Preparing a Sequel

It is almost a month since Government has instituted no eating out after 6pm and we have been told that the various measures to reduce or prevent the spread of the pandemic would continue up to at least 17 February. At the same time, we have been advised to reduce family visiting to the minimum during the Chinese New Year season and to avoid large crowds. I am actually not too much bordered with not being in large crowds as such, for we don’t often join crowds of late anyway, but I do miss going to morning Mass at Ricci Hall. Now it looks unlikely that we can go to Mass on Lunar New Year Day, which would be a pity, for we have been doing that for many years at Ricci Hall.

Omicron has certainly been spreading fast and wide. A few blocks in Mei Foo were subject to mandatory testing overnight and residents in Mei Foo and Sham Shui Po were advised to take voluntary tests which Su and I did in Yaumatei first through phone booking. The tests were extremely efficient and free after we mentioned that we lived in Mei Foo. We were informed early next morning on our phones that the results were negative. No drama. We informed our dear and near; and at the same time booked tests for the following week in preparation for the Chinese New Year.

In the meantime, we continue to eat mainly at home, while in between I took Su to places where she thinks she can practice or improve her photographic skills. A friend had already suggested that maybe some of the photos Su had been taking would find their way into the sequel to my memoir, if ever there would be one.

Yes, during the lock down, I began to think about what I would put in the sequel. Friends are asking when they can expect to see it, if at all; as I had said before, we all knew what friends were like; and my first line response has been, maybe in 2025, to give myself some leeway. I have also been reading what other people put in theirs. There are no fixed patterns, but by and large, people write whatever they like, and most of them, for themselves.

Nevertheless, and regardless, I would probably do at least a sequel. I like to put down on paper for posterity what I think my thoughts were at a time I think I can still think. I found out recently that my favourite Greek philosopher Socrates never wrote anything at all, even though the internet has copious references to his quotations, including one I adopted in my first memoir on marriage. The purported conversations with eminent scholars or sophists of the day were probably derived from Plato’s dialogues which had been passed down the ages. But never mind. Socrates in any case was forced to take poison derived from hemlock, after when his disciples including Plato went into hiding. Plato founded the Academy in Athens in 387 BC and was its head until he died in 347 BC. His most prominent student Aristotle, born in Macedonia in 384 BC spent 20 years in the Academy, even though the two men did not agree on many things. Aristotle wrote profusely and published many books. More importantly, he had the fortune of having Alexander the Great as his pupil. This pupil came to him rather young – he didn’t live long anyway – and volunteered as one of his research assistants so that he would send back to Aristotle reports during his various sojourns and conquests, including biological samples, mostly plants and insects to enable Aristotle to name and classify. It was a typical example of organized knowledge or an early science which the Greeks called episteme which we now call epistemology.

Alexander the Great of course was a phenomenal human being in history despite his short stay on the planet. He was only 32 when he died in 323 BC at Babylon, but he had conquered three empires, Egyptian, Persian and Indian, having done ten thousand miles in about ten years, and reputedly named after him some 70 cities – they were all called Alexandria – and at least one in present day Pakistan after his favourite horse Bucephalus which was fatally wounded during a battle.  It would be some time before the Romans came into prominence and dominated the world at the time; and it would take even longer to chronicle the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Edward Gibbon wrote the famous “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” in which he cited barbarism and religion as the two main reasons for the fall of this very famous and historical civilization. Barbarism referred to the invaders mainly from the north which would be rather obvious, while religion primarily meant Christianity. Now, Constantine the Great (AD 280 – 337) had reigned the Roman Empire for 25 years by the time he died such that Christianity had become the dominant culture and religion of the time, when previously Christians had been routinely and thoroughly persecuted in Rome. Constantine’s successors had tried to bring back paganism, but with not much success, so that by the time the barbarians sacked Rome the first time in AD 410, the Roman Empire was a Christian country. When I was in Wah Yan, Mr John Fung categorically warned us not to read that Gibbon’s book, adding that the Catholic Church had banned “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” because it contained plenty of untruths. I bought the entire volume after my retirement – when I could afford it – but I had yet to study it seriously. They are still sitting prettily on the book shelves.

I can’t help feeling that some friends who have acquired my first memoir could be leaving the book on their book shelf for various reasons, but I won’t blame them. Indeed, I thank them all the same and wish them a splendid Year of the Tiger ahead when perhaps they would find time to read at least a few pages.  

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