Greatest Love Stories

I remember a past governor in the District told me once – when I had no idea that I would be a governor one day – that the District’s Ball season normally began with the anniversary celebration of the Rotary Club of Shatin. It could have been, but now some clubs have got into the very laudable practice of joint balls, while others have grown out of the habit of sending invites to every single past governor, which may not be a bad thing in itself, but which means that I don’t always get to know which clubs are doing what.

I attended many club balls alone when I was Governor. It was not exactly a pleasant thing to do, but by going to all the ones I could go and sharing the happiness of the members there, it did provide me some relief, and looking back, I had a great time. Now that Rosita is much more mobile than before, I won’t go to Rotary balls without her, even though I would still go to some work-related evening parties and black tie events by myself. As it happened, the Shatin Ball was indeed the first we attended this season; and yesterday, we went to the 15th Anniversary Ball of Tolo Harbour. We had a great time, even though we did not win any prizes. Jenny – Johnson’s better half – won two; so did a president of my year. I would not name him to save him the embarrassment, but those who were there would register.

Talking of the presidents of my year, they are a sweet lot and I hope they stay that way for a very long time. Many of them have continued to be active in the District, holding key offices and ever ready to help when called upon. Last week, we had a reunion dinner. We also bade farewell to one of them. There were about two dozens present and each one took turn to say nice things about the departing friend and each other, not for the sake of saying niceties, but because they meant what they said and because they felt very much for each other.

Good friends and pleasant company are indeed soothing alternatives to the awful news we are getting these days. It is somewhat ironic that the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize Award for the year would take place on the same day bombs exploded outside holiday resorts in otherwise peaceful and tranquil Bali of Indonesia, killing nearly 200 and wounding a lot more. Such terrorist acts are no less sickening and revolting than those related to the 911 attacks. Our hearts of course go out to the friends and families of the dead and wounded, including those of the nine missing Rugby players from Hong Kong.

It is interesting but not surprising that nominees for this year’s Nobel Prize include a few related to the 911 attacks. Among them were Rudy Giuliani, the man of the hour at Ground Zero, George Bush and Tony Blair who campaigned tirelessly to the world why it would be right to take out Iraq and the regime operating in the country, and Hamid Karzai who administered Afghanistan after the fall of the Teleban and who almost got killed. Others included United States Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar who had worked on a 10-year project to make safe the nuclear wastes of the former Soviet Union, and Bono, leader of the Irish rock band U2 who created awareness of the plight of the real poor and helpless, and of course, former United States President Jimmy Carter to whom the award goes. In accepting the award, Carter denounced the Congress for authorizing President Bush to strike Iraq, but would not comment on Nobel Committee Chairman Gunnar Berge’s remarks about Bush or Bush’s policy on Iraq. I wonder what Carter has to say about the Bali carnage; China has since denounced the attack.

In bad times, it is always useful to recall better and happier ones. I recall a TV programme a few weeks ago which listed 100 great love stories in the last 100 years on films, or more accurately, on American films. I hope our local TV stations would run the show again. The film clips and commentaries were rather heart warming and uplifting, even though they were dyed-in-the-wool American stuff. I do not have the full list, but I recall a few names and I jotted down the top ten greatest stories. They included Funny Girl, Sleepless in Seattle, Titanic, King and I, An Officer and a Gentleman, The Sound of Music, When Harry met Sally, King Kong, Pretty Woman, From Here to Eternity, Ghost, Vertigo, and so on. And the top ten awards go to, in descending order, City Light (1931), Love Story (1970), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Way We Were (1973), An Affair to Remember (1957), Roman Holiday (1953), West Side Story (1961), Gone with the Wind (1939), and Casablanca (1942). Yes, the black and white Casablanca is the winner of winners; and I won’t disagree.

I can recall the time and times I first saw many of these films. These films have brought me many hours of bliss. I hope you too have loved some of these great love stories.

Talk to you again soon. I hope.

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