Mark began to organize a party around Winter Solstice of 2021, based on a list used by Alice for a party of six a few months before. He fixed a date for 16 January 2022 at a new restaurant in HKJC. Things were looking good until there was a kerfuffle which saw many top officials and politicians sent to Penny’s Bay, followed by more stringent social distancing rules being introduced. “Let’s wait,” Mark cautioned and we agreed. One thing led to another, as rules were further tightened, which effectively made partying impractical if not impossible. The fifth wave struck in full force and the City appeared dead in the next few months. No more partying. That was when Su decided to go on staycation.
Thing began to ease off in May, and by early June, friends began to meet, somewhat in vengeance at times. Mark booked the Derby Bar for 5 June and was on stand by for a late dinner, he hadn’t been able to book any table earlier. Now, although we could then eat with eight at a table, the rules for bars were such that each table could only sit four. There were five of us, so we had to take up two adjacent tables. That won’t inhibit our drinking spirit, even though Su was a bit soaked up with champagne from an earlier party in Mei Foo. We had a great dinner, despite Su’s condition; and Mark took us home. The next day, we had lunch in Central with Stanley and others, followed by another session in the same club with Terence, Kenny and Andrew, eating and drinking in earnest. Weather then became unsettled and wild all week. We had our staycation during which Su bought batches of caviar approaching their expiry dates, at a great discount; and we held a party last Sunday in Mei Foo, with Mark, Joann, Andrew and Charmaine, finishing off so much food and champagne and wine that I was too modest to disclose, and of course all the caviar. But we made sure that everyone had their RAT tests, which all proved negative, before we had our first drinks. The last guests left after 2 am, I think.
Which brings us to this week, which began again with thunderstorm and more unsettled weather. I had lunch with Kenny at Zetland Hall, then went for my gym session at CCC, before returning again to Zetland Hall where I changed for the evening meeting. It was then I learnt that a few brethren had reported earlier that morning that they had been tested positive for Covid-19 over the weekend. These brethren had attended meetings which spanned from Tuesday to Saturday, including the Friday curry luncheon. Fortuitously I was not at any of these meetings – I was on staycation for three days to start with and I narrowly missed the lunch on Friday. But I was somewhat concerned, so I ran an RAT test as soon as I got back to Mei Foo. There was no drama. I did another RAT the next morning, because I was meeting another group of friends. By then, words were circulating that Zetland Hall was about to be or had already undergone deep cleansing, even though none of the staff was tested positive.
For the record, Zetland Hall management and the chiefs of all three constitutions had always reminded brethren that each individual and each unit should take individual and independent decisions regarding whether any of their meetings are to be held or whether an individual should attend any meeting at Zetland Hall, subject to the Government rules and regulations in force. As such, we had been wearing masks at all meetings and all social distancing rules had been studiously followed.
Amidst all the excitement, Su had been taking photos in parks and gardens, and I tried to cooperate as required. Meanwhile, the number of local infected cases continued to rise steadily and some experts were saying that the sixth wave was around the corner if not already here. In the same breath these experts also advised that as long as people continued to observe personal hygiene and social distancing protocols, and most important to get vaccinated, Hong Kong should be ready to face the next outbreak.
The dilemma is whether to continue to go to parties while we still can, or whether to stay home or in small groups. Already, some clubs of which I am a member, were reporting more members being infected, which naturally created inconvenience. In the meantime, Su and I continued to eat and drink, either at home or outside as situations presented themselves. Partying could take many forms; and we refused to be deterred. Yesterday, for example, we had an impromptu post M+ late lunch; and it was more than a full meal, so that we skipped dinner and slept in until this morning, which saw us having RAT tests, in preparation for the next party. To prepare ourselves walking into bars, Su had placed a bag of government-issue RAT kits in my gym bag, to prevent disappointment.