Saturday, February 24, 2007


She changed my life, the way I look, everything. Apart from one disasterous occassion, I have remained faithful to her since I arrived in Hong Kong, and this is how she repays me! Leaving me without a folical crutch. That's right Amy, my hair "stylist" is quitting. I am so demorallised. It was Amy who encouraged me to grow my hair longer, it was Amy who always made my trip to have my hair cut an enjoyable one.
My hair had started to look a bit scruffy again just before the Spring Festival, and knowing how hard it would be to get an appointment, I left it until yesterday, by which time my hair looked like something adorning the head of Medusa. Having sat down, Amy broke the news to me, she was leaving in a fortnight, going back to Australia for a holiday, then going back into accountancy. She seemed sceptical that ccounting was a sexy career. But still the long and the short of it is that I need someone else to trim my tresses, manage my main and look after my locks. Good luck, Amy. thank you for your dilligent service, close attention to detail, and genuine artistic skill. Not to mention your unforgettable (and often quite naughty) sense-of-humor. I will miss you.
Later on I decided to hit Wanchai, and ended up in Neptune II. All the usual misfits were ther, but the place wasn't too crowded.
Spike had let himself out of rehab for the night and was out giving the Jack and Coke a good seeing to. I didn't stay too long, as I paired up with a delightful young lady who seems to have left her ear rings in my apartment.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

"Insane" mountain trip?

British newspapers are gleefully reporting how a 14 month old baby has been rescued off England’s highest hill Scafell Pike (they don’t have proper mountain’s in England, they leave that for the Scots and the Welsh).

It seems that Mr. Mrs. Naylor, from Cornwall, decided to climb the hill with their 5 year old son and 14 month old baby. On the way back down they got lost in low cloud. Someone spotted that their car hadn’t moved, after sunset, and advised the authorities.

A full blown mountain rescue team was set up with over 40 volunteers and dog handlers, combing the area. The family was found cold and wet at about 4 a.m., but they were unharmed.

Quite naturally the press is full of praise for the rescuers, and I have no issue with that; but of course the parents are receiving the brunt of the bad press with comments such as: “insane", “incredibly irresponsible” and “sheer madness”.

But, what I find refreshing is the families attitude – they gave it a go. Britain needs more parents with that spirit. The weather and the forecast were mild, the baby was in a waterproof papoose, the family were most unlikely to die, — and what an adventure! That little boy will never forget his rescue from Scafell Pike. How much better than the parents who plonk children in front of a television in an overheated lounge and tell them on no account to play outside. I wish my parents had taken me on dangerous climbs. Whewn I was a child, if you couldn't drive there Dad didn’t want to go. Far from being a casualty of parental capriciousness, young Master Naylor is a lucky boy.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The path to true love

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, and thanks be that it is over for another year. This annual fest of commercialisation of romance has me fed up to the back teeth.

The romantic meal in the restaurant, just the two of you, gazing into each others eyes and saying nothing, but thinking how much you would rather be with a bunch of friends, when ordering another bottle of wine would be a magnanimous gesture, instead of sharing a bottle of wine, after you have toasted each other with a glass of champagne. Oh, yes the romantic gesture – card, flowers or a gift, but, how romantic is it, when you are expected to do it, because some commercial wizard decided to make money out of some Roman priest, who decided to keep on marrying couples, against the emporor’s wishes, and ended up falling in love with the jailor’s daughter? And as these gestures are judged by ladies against the gestures made to their friends/colleagues, if you don’t measure up to meet her requirements for one upmanship, you will very soon end up in the dog house.

Andrew Marshall, who is a psychologist with 20 years experience specialising in couple counselling, gives the following adv ice: don’t listen to soppy dedications on the radio, don’t buy a huge bouquet of expensive flowers, don’t book a table at a romantic candlelit restaurant, do embrace love in all its complications, do open a joint bank account, do confess some painful secret from your childhood, and do allow yourself to be vulnerable. Well, apart from the bit about the flowers and the restaurant, what a load of bollox!

I always have a good laugh at those stupid valentines day messages: “snookums pookie, I love it when you curl your toes – your snuggle bunny”. Who actually talks like that – its hilarious! Embrace love with all its complications – what the hell is that supposed to mean, anyway? Joint bank account? Not a chance – what is mine, is my own! Painful secrets from my childhood – they are painful, I don’t want to revisit how traumatised I became by being forced to model knitting patterns in Womens Magazine, when I was a three year old. I’ve got over it, buried, forgotten, leave it alone. Allow myself to be vulnerable – ha- fat chance.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Did Rolex pay for product placement in Casino Royale?

Fumier asked in a comment to my last post whether Rolex paid to be named in the film Casino Royale. The Bond girl asks if the watch he is wearing is a Rolex, and he replies that its an Omega.

Up until about the mid-nineties Bond wore a Rolex, even in the books by Ian Flemming, he wore that brand. As an interesting aside, when the first Bond movie was made, the producers wanted to make sure that everything 007 wore and used was authentic to the character. Unfortunately, Rolex wouldn’t provide them with a watch, and the film budget couldn’t stretch to it, so Chubby Broccoli took his Rolex off and lent it to the film crew.

After the Rolex, Bond switched to a Seiko, for a bit, before Omega, became the brand of Bond. Personally speaking I would always associate Bond with Rolex, it’s the sort of watch he would wear, the same watch that was used by Sir Edmund Hilary when he conquered mount Everest.

Omega just doesn’t cut the mustard for me. OK I am impressed by the fact that the Omega was worn on the lunar missions carried out by NASA, but how in the hell do you justify this piece of promotion from Omega: “Will his impenetrable demeanour and tactical moves be enough to break the concentration of his notorious opponent 'Le Chiffre' and beat him at the poker table? As the intrigue unfolds James Bond knows that apart from his instinct, his only ally on this arduous assignment he can trust implicitly, is the precision and accuracy of his Seamaster Professional 300 M complete with the exclusive OMEGA Co-Axial movement.” ?

For me, I think that the watch with the best luxury brand perception is Rolex, and Omega have realized that they haven’t quite reached that level yet; so, they used this opportunity to say that an Omega is really just as good as a Rolex. So, I don’t think Rolex paid for this comment, and I don’t think it has done them any harm either.

James Bond has changed so much over the years, that he hardly resembles the original character. In the latest film we see him driving a Ford Mondeo. Now, its not a bad car, but its hardly a Bond car, is it? And what’s all this about Bond becoming more atuned to women’s feelings. In Casino Royale he even puts his arms around a lady to comfort her when she is crying. Ten years ago he would have carried her out of the shower and to the bed. Also there is the bit where Bond emerges from the sea like Ursula Andres – come on – it’s the girls we want to see wearing skin tight, wet, clinging, swimwear emerging from the water. And there is far too much product placement in the movie, its much to much like an advert for the Sony Viao for my liking. I am just wondering if Adobe paid for Bond to say that he photoshopped that picture?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Material World

Firstly, I would like to share this photograph I took from my balcony, yesterday evening. We were blessed with an uncharecteristically clear evening.

Spike said something in his comments yesterday about people judging you on your appearance, and I want to come back to that in a later post; but, it made me think that buying a watch is not going to be as straight forward as it seems, and that I need to do some research into what to buy.

Forest Gump said, "Momma always says there's an awful lot you could tell about a person by their shoes. Where they're going. Where they've been." The question is: can the same be said for a watch?

Well it seems there is. According to a leather strap "is a sign of your taste for delicate art, while a metal band indicates your boldness and taste for life, especially if you wear it loose around your wrist. A watch designed for deep sea diving establishes you as an adventurer while a sporty Omega would certainly associate you to the likes of 007 as it's James Bond's timepiece of choice."

Ebay advises "Your wristwatch says a lot about you. This is one item of jewelry that you will see on men and women, young and old, and you will notice that each person expresses his or her true style with these timepieces. You can see buttoned-up bankers sporting flashy titanium pieces and elegant ladies wearing chunky sport watches."

Anastasia, in an article on the website, suggests that a dress watch is worn by a person who is easily captured by refined items and is quite sociable, but is punctual and pedantic in his work life. An expensive watch is worn by a person who knows how to organise his own time, and values his personal time as well as time of people around. Watches with complicated features usually win the hearts of easy-going individuals who enjoy owning everything new and unconventional. They are sure the world belongs to such exploring natures as theirs. Watches with roman numerals are worn by people who prefer owning classically styled things, and keep things tidy; they are inclined to a classical lifestyle, where as people who wear watches with normal numbers support realistic ideas and avoid pipedreams, a watch without numbers is favoured by people who are inquisitive and forthright., also say "The brand is quite important ... A Rolex will set you among the elite while a TAG Heuer will speak of your taste for the technological innovation. On the other hand, a Timex or a Swatch will be a signal that you don't waste your energy on such triviality."

Watch branding seems to be a big industry at the moment. Stroll through anywhere with advertising posters to see famous celebrities sporting a certain brand. Of course Patek Philippe eschews nouveau riche celebrity endorsements altogether. The slogan for their men's line goes, "You never actually own a Patek Philippe. You merely look after it for the next generation." Ha! I should bloody well hope so; have you seen their prices? And what their slogan fails to tell you is that a Patek's movement is so fragile that it may be knocked off kilter by the g-force of the average golf swing.

Rolex pioneered celebrity endorsements for watches when Mercedes Gleitz wore one as she swam the English Channel in 1927. But now on celluloid, Bond has given up Rolex for an Omega Seamaster, and this is the way we think of him: The icy eyes of the new 007, Daniel Craig, glimmering from the ads of Omega — a watchmaker that has the Hollywood endorsement thing down pat. Other watchmakers are catching on fast; Baume & Mercier has Meg Ryan for women, Kiefer Sutherland (as well as Sinise) for men. Rolexes are endorsed by seven tennis pros, 24 golfers, four equestrians, three yachtsmen, one skier (Hermann Maier), two race-car drivers and a polo player. The assumption is, we will choose the celebrity we most admire, and then pick their watch. Unfortunately, I can find no rhyme to the reason why Rado picked Nobu Matsuhisa, the sushi chef, to represent its watches, while Longines chose both Harry Connick Jr. and the Chinese men's gymnastics team.

So which is the best designed watch TagHeuer have just been awarded the the iF product design award for 2007, for their Monaco Calibre 360 LS (Linear Second) Concept Chronograph. Right I do like Tags, but do I need accuracy to a 1/1000th of a second?

I am going to the airport this afternoon and may check out some watches there

Monday, February 05, 2007

The sniper in the brain, regurgitating drain

After many years of faithful service, my watch has gone wrong. It has decided to work to rule, and only show the correct time twice each day, which, speaking as the world’s most punctual person is a nuisance. Especially, as I shall now have to go to a shop to buy a replacement.
Yes, I know I could send it to be repaired but, because I really am the most punctual person in the world, what am I supposed to do while it’s away? Use the moon? For me, going around without a watch is worse than going around without my trousers.
So it is lucky that I am in Hong Kong, acknowledged as the leading market place for watches in asia, but this brings another problem; there’s a world of choice out there but everything is unbelievably expensive and fitted with a whole host of features that no one could possibly ever need. I mean FFS why do I need an altimeter, so I can tell everyone that the office is 62 metres above sea level, or that when the pilot says we are flying at 10,000 metres altitude, I can advise to climb another three hundred feet? More importantly, I want to know how much longer I have to suffer sitting in an aluminium tube, which could crash and scatter my bodily remains all over the countryside. At least with a proper watch, the crash site investigators would know what time I died. So its simple really; I don’t want my new watch to open bottles. I don’t want it to double up as a laser or a garrotte. I just want something that tells the time, not in Bangkok or Los Angeles, but here, now, clearly, robustly and with no fuss.
But, of course, it isn’t that simple, is it? You see, someone has decided that the wristwatch says something about the man. And that having the right timepiece is just as important as having the right hair, or the right names for your children, or the right car. I read somewhere recently, that a man should have seven watches, one for each day of the week, and that the owner should choose a watch appropriate to what he will do that day. I have even seen in Lane Crawford a display case where a gent can keep his watches, rather like a ladies jewelry box.
So, I don’t need seven watches, I need one. I could go out and by a watch that would have everyone cooing and nodding, there are watches out there that cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And I can’t see why. Timex can sell you a reliable watch that has a back light for the hard of seeing, a compass, a stopwatch and a tool for restarting stricken jumbo jets, all for two hundred Hong Kong Dollars. And that’s because the badge says Timex. Which is another way of saying that you have no style and no sense of cool.
To justify the enormous prices charged these days, watchmakers all have idiotic names, like Jaeger-LeCoultre, and they all claim to make timepieces for fighter pilots and space shuttle commanders and people who parachute from atomic bombs into power boats for a living. What’s more, all of them claim to have been doing this, in sheds in remote Swiss villages, for the last millenium. How many craftsmen are there in the mountains I wonder? Millions, by the sound of it. Breitling even bangs on about how it made the instruments for various historically important planes. So what? The Swiss also stored a lot of historically important gold teeth. It means nothing when I’m lying in bed trying to work out whether it’s the middle of the night or time to get up. Whatever, these watch companies give you all this active lifestyle guff and show you pictures of Swiss pensioners in brown store coats painstakingly assembling the inner workings with tweezers, and then they try to flog you something that is more complicated than a slide rule and is made from uranium. Or which is bigger and heavier than Fort Knox and would look stupid on even Puff Diddly.
Now, where can I buy that Timex?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Saturday photoshoot Western District

Following last Saturday's day out taking photos ,I decided to repeat the exercise this weekend. Lots of people take photos in this part of Hong Kong, but this time I wanted to be more creative, if I could and get some different ideas and angles. I started off at Western Market, quite early in the morning, before the sun had risen up above the buildings, so the light was not that brilliant.

These two shots are from behind Western Market, in both of them I was trying to capture the three dimensional aspect. I liked the second shot, of the dancers, because it is not something I associate with that area.

Then I moved along to an old style chinese tea houseo n Connaught Road. In these shots, I was concentrating on the Chinese lettering, and then someone pointed out the name of the shop cut into the steel shutters. Apparently this is the old style of indicating the shop's name.

Then I cut down an alleyway, where I came across this bright orange building, with a blue canopy. I liked the contrast of the orange and blue, but also the upper part of the building is built at an angle to the lower part. That is not a trick of the cameraa, it is actually built like that!

I really like the deep red colour of these seeds. I wanted to capture more reflection off the scoop, but that didn't work out.

I took this photo, because of the conttrast on the left of selling flowers for Valentines Day, and, on the right, selling papers for a funeral.

There were a whole row of shops selling paper decorations for Chinese New Year.

After a bite to eat I wandered up the hill to Hollywood Road, and above. I took this shot at the first YMCA to be built in Hong Kong - again I was trying to capture the relief on the stone.

A bit further on I found the Hong Kong Museum of Medical Science. A really nice old building.

Then I joined the throngs of tourists in the immensely smokey interior of the Man Mo Temple. I want to go back here some time, as I wasn't too happy with these shots.

And after all that it was time to head off and get myself a beer or three.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A friend passes on

Phuket, Thailand is the emerald jewel of the Andaman Sea. The Island is a blend of the beautiful and bizarre, the surreal and sublime. "Half moon in a fallen sky, seven seas as time goes by....." Janis Joplin could have been writing about Phuket when she breathed life into these words in her famously inimitable manner. Every year I holiday in Phuket, and let the breath of the Andaman Sea sooth my weary soul.
The sheer sun-worshiping hedonism that sweats through the lush landscape of white sandy beaches and azure waters during the day gives way in the evening to buttock-slapping, beer-swilling debauchery and buccaneer carousing in the hundreds of Go-Go bars and beer-bars that characterize Patong. This is the place the dissolute and profligate Errol Flynn may have retired to if he had lived today.

One of the many things that endears me to this Island of Sirens is the many characters that can be found in Patong, from the old lady who sells chewing gum to earn a living by a couple of baht profit she makes on each packet, the old man who stands still like a statue demonstrating his dancing Coke bottles, or other pieces of trashy, animated toys that he sells at three times their cost. There are many such characters that make up the diverse panorama, that is Patong Beach.

Several years ago, I spotted another such character - an obese man dressed in shorts and singlet with a shaved head (looking like an old Marlon Brando as the insane and renegade Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now) who always carried three small size polystyrene containers with him everywhere he went. I wondered what they contained … body parts for human experimentation, or something more bizarre?

One evening whilst I was propping up my selected watering hole for that evening, he approached me and revealed the secret of the white boxes – pies and pasties. He told me, "I've travelled the world and Patong is the best place I've visited". He had settled down there and eked out his livelihood by selling his culinary delights. In addition to wandering the bars and selling pasties to inebriated tourists, he also sold pies to various bars that they could put on their menus.

He was a nice, unassuming kind of guy, who was always willing to stop and have a chat. He never seemed concerned if you bought pies from him or not. I heard that he also had a stash of little blue diamonds with him, that he would sell to people who needed this kind of chemical assistance to enjoy their night of passion.

A few years ago he was knocked off his moped by a drunken Thai, driving a car. Dave ended up with a broken arm and couldn’t make his pies anymore, and he lost all his contracts to supply the bars. Even during this time, he would wander the bars chatting to locals and tourists alike. He never seemed bitter about his mishap; it was just the kind of mischance that happens to people who live in Phuket.

Last year, he had a run in with a katoey, who attacked him with a rock, and fractured his skull. He recovered from this injury but suffered with blurred vision in one eye thereafter. Even this did not put him off his walkabouts and he carried on selling pies.

I learned last night that Dave has passed on, following a heart attack. He was a true gent, and I will miss my chats with him. I am sure he is selling pies to the angels in that giant Pearl of the Andaman in the sky.