My 2021 Year Ender

Helen and Herbert’s Year Ender arrived last week, which prompted me to start composing mine. These days, fewer people are writing or sending out year enders, which used to be chronicles of their travels and updates on their children and grandchildren, complete with colourful and rather interesting photos. Covid-19 and the pandemic which followed had kept everyone home so that there was no traveling tale to report; but life still goes on, one hopes.

Indeed, Su and I had not left Hong Kong since mid-March 2020 when we rushed back, separately, from Whistler, which was close to two years by now. I reported in my 2020 Year Ender that I had spent the lockdown in 2020 putting together my first autobiography which was going to the printer towards the end of last year. The book appeared in print, complete with ISBN and a glossy cover – but with no pictures inside – and I took delivery of the product on 12 January 2021. It bears the title: The Middle Child – A First Memoir. I was rather pleased with the printed work, which turned out to be a 567-page book in ten chapters with more than 160,000 words. I also had Forewords written by five very good friends whose names and writings could create more interest than what I had written in my book. The problem is, I am not a good salesman and I am too modest to push my own work. But Su was very firm in not giving the books away free; not all of them anyway; and she singlehandedly sent round messages to friends – mine and hers – on Facebook and through emails in the first weeks of January which helped to generate traffic and interest. Now, my nephew and his wife ran a florist shop at Admiralty; and they set up a corner in the shop to enable me to sell and distribute the book for more than a week. In addition, Paul Wan, the friend who a year ago had taken some photos of me, one of which he allowed me to use for the book cover, made a video of me talking about the book, through film clips taken at the florist, at my home and in the Lai Chi Kok Pak, which he uploaded on YouTube thereby generating more noises. I also went to a few Rotary Clubs to talk about the making of the book. The upshot was that we had managed to generate some cashflow to cover most of the direct costs for the printing of the book. It was hard work, but very much worth it. Above all, both Su and me had enjoyed the process, through which we had also learnt how to use Shun Fung Express to deliver the books in Hong Kong and Macau on the one hand, and the Hongkong Post to deliver them to friends overseas. That was my landmark and top story for 2021.

In 2021, meetings and gatherings related to Rotary and Freemasonry could not be held in the first three months, and I found myself attending more zoom meetings which tended to take longer and were not as productive at times.

We picked up hiking with friends in the cooler months and followed through some trails even after it got warmer. We discovered sites at Hoi Ha and Wu Kau Tang and had organized picnics with friends, carrying sufficient food and bubblies all the way; and we would not hesitate to walk for two hours one way for a good meal at Green Villa off Sam A Tsuen, just between the two of us.  Motivated partly by the high cost of running my gas guzzler to these far away places and partly to preserve our Planet Earth, I had my good old Lexus scrapped for a brand-new electric car, taking advantage of the almost HK$200K government subsidy. The last time I bought a firsthand new car was around 1980, and that would be another story, maybe for my second memoir.

On the health side, we are most thankful, to God and to one another, that we have both enjoyed reasonably good health. We have not been ill or unwell for longer than a day or two, and we have not seen the need to consult any medical doctor or health personnel all these months except for the regular medical check-ups and the Covid-vaccinations, of which we both had three jabs already. My blood test readings have been uneventful, except that I am borderline for cholesterol levels, and we both knew how that had come by. We had continued to indulge in wagyu beef and iberico ham, amongst other good food.

Indeed, Su has continued to refine and improve on her culinary skills; and of late, has stocked up our wine collection. Here, I need to go back a bit to the time when we were about to publish my memoir. It was late 2020. Most restaurants and eateries were not fully operational. The regime was two a table initially and later, four. It would mean that we couldn’t have a decent book launch as such, which we never had in the end anyway. Su’s plan was to organize small-scale dinner parties at home with reasonably good wine and bubblies, which was why she began to fortify our cellars since and had not stopped afterwards. And she had only just bought a wine cellar this month that can hold 140 bottles.

We did hold more than a few dinner parties of between six to eight people at a time, often indulging in Norwegian king crabs or hairy crabs when in season, home-made sashimi fish, shrimps and lobsters, and her home-made and cured yellow-cow beef. Su has also taken to drinking fine sake; and has acquired an ice-dispenser and plenty of hand-made wine glasses for the purpose.

Still on the health side, I have been trying hard to keep up my gym routines after the gyms have opened. When they were closed, we did rope-skipping in the park at Mei Foo. Su was rather good, and I was trying hard to follow suit, but nowhere near. We have yet to resume our Latin dance classes though, but at a recent anniversary dinner of a Rotary club, we found that we still retained enough muscle memories to make a few swings for the cameras. Talking of cameras, Su had enrolled in a photography course run by a Mr Tony Ho whom we had met some ten years before on a trip to Korea to look at the cherry blossoms.  The six-session course had just ended, but she had bought herself at least two camera bodies, albeit second-hand, and on Winter Solstice she bought a dehumidifier box to house he equipment, which she placed in space she commandeered from my personal studies.

On the spiritual front, I have tried to continue my morning Mass at Ricci Hall, but we have stopped our Sunday routines and turned to watching Father Ng on YouTube, primarily because the Sunday congregation had become rather crowded.

On the family side, my two children are still in the States. Both have remained single. They are both very well otherwise. Su’s parents are both 89. Both have had all their jabs and are keeping well.

I wish all of you out there, wherever you maybe, good health and happiness. And may 2022 and the Year of the Tiger bring you continuing prosperity, agility, celerity, sagacity and peace of mind. In short, I wish you all well.

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