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THOUGHTS FROM A FRIEND’S ARTICLE

Bernadette Tsui sat on the front row at the Sam and Tam Concert last night, had a great time and had Part One of her Sam and Tam and Carrie article published this morning in her column in Economic Journal. She also sat on the front rows at Slava’s Snowshow last week at Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and wrote at least two articles afterwards. Good for her. I’d like to be able to do what she does – I don’t know how she does it – to write regularly and have what she has written published and read. I think she must be a rather disciplined person; and I believe she must be carrying her writing kit all the time.

I was very close to being a disciplined writer when I was the editor for my Rotary Club bulletin which published weekly, on Mondays, on two A4 pages, sometimes more. Every Sunday I would write an editorial and the leading article which normally centred on the programme of the previous week, using the software Microsoft Publisher, and I would then fill up the rest of the two pages with whatever I could lay my hands on. Sometimes I worked up to rather late, particularly if I had an evening dinner. Looking back, it was hard work; but who in my Club now would still remember what I did some 20 years ago or thank me for that.

My personal website shows that it was two months since I had my last upload – so much about my quiet desire that I would try to write more frequently or regularly. But I was not exactly idle; at least that was how I felt. I seemed to be going from meetings to meetings; attending dinners after dinners, and parties after parties; having pictures taken and uploaded on various websites; and I even went to Beijing for a few days in June to see a good friend receiving his PhD. In the meantime, our new Hong Kong Chief Executive has been in office for six weeks, as more drama unfolded in Legislative Council and elsewhere, notably around Trump, whom the CNN Fareed Zakaria referred to as someone who had perfected “the art of the bluff.”

It has been rather hot these days; and the body and mind tend to be sluggish and lazy. I didn’t even visit the annual book fair which I tried to go every year. Su went and bought me Rosemarie Jarski’s “The Funniest Thing You Never Said” with the subtitle “The ultimate collection of humorous quotations.” This is the sort of book I would resort to when I was out of materials for my weekly bulletin in those days. I wonder what Su was thinking when she bought it – either she thinks I like funny stuff or that I am not funny enough. Still on books and writing, I posted on Facebook that I would start writing my memoir if I get 200 likes. What did I get? I got about 100 and some encouraging words, with one pretty lady urging me to start writing anyway and to publish it when I get 200 likes.

Facebook, or for that matter the internet and the social media, can be a rather funny thing. A very good friend passed away in April, and would have been 76 years old today. Facebook sent round early in the morning a reminder to send him birthday wishes today. Then, in a playful mood, I published some pictures of the three brothers with me in the middle cutting a small cake celebrating jointly our coming of age – reaching seventy. Su even added a caption suggesting that all three were born in the same year. Lo and behold, I received loads of birthday wishes from so many friends, even after I tried to clarify that this was meant to be our birthday year.

True indeed, and rather sadly, people increasingly seem not so much interested in facts as they are in opinions, and more sadly, the opinions of themselves and of those they choose to listen to. Bill Maher, an American comedian, political commentator and television host best known for the HBO political talk show Real Time with Bill Maher since 2003 and for a similar late-night show called Politically Incorrect on ABC, blamed millennials’ political correctness on bad parenting, adding that present day journalism had a role in the process. He is hopeful that, in the same way that each generation would bash and then replace the one which begets them, such as Generation Y replacing Generation X, the millennials will inevitably be replaced by the next generations. He is very critical of Trump’s idolism on strong and despotic world leaders such as Putin, adding that Trump wishes that he could be Putin and be able to do everything he wishes with the least restraints, as opposed to being able only to say what he wants, such as building a wall, recognizing Taiwan, punishing China, putting Hillary behind bars, cancelling Obamacare, and so on.

Closer to home, we continue to be bombarded by political rhetoric from third rate and amateur politicians, but that is the inevitable consequence of a community intent on following the world trend of being more interested in opinions than in facts. There is a quote which ran like this, “There is nothing as inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is going on.”  It has stuck in my mind since the undergrad days, and I can’t recall the source or bibliography, but it does seem that many people have opted to take the seemingly easier route of taking an opinion they like instead of finding out what the facts and truths are. Just when many people in Hong Kong are pondering why the 21 staples were on Mr. Lam’s legs, a friend was circulating on the internet a video showing how a young man, having obtained 100,000 subscribers, took on the 100 Staples Challenge gleefully and not-that-painfully and apparently without shedding blood. He took on 104 staples from his friend on both arms, and on the face and forehead, and was laughing all the time and thanking his subscribers.

Back to the beginning where I said that Bernadette Tsui had a great time last night with Sam and Tam whom she accorded superstar and celebrity status. She was all praises for their music and lyrics, and linked their songs with the Spirit of Hong Kong. She asked at the end whether Carrie will protect, nurture and rekindle the Spirit of Hong Kong with all her might. Sam and Tam have no doubt brought happiness and fond memories to many in Hong Kong through their music and works while at the same time enjoying their fruits of success, fame and fortune. I ask how many in the capacity crowd would stand up for the core values enshrined implicitly in the works of the two artistes. I look forward to reading her Part Two tomorrow.

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