Christmas Day. A beautiful sunny, balmy day in Hong Kong. In these times of turmoil, a rarity to be grateful for. As we left our lunch venue the pavements were crowded with domestic helpers partying on their day off. We argue about which table is the best, they fight over which stretch of pavement they can camp on for the day.
2019 has been a very sad year. We lost my wonderful godson, taken in his sleep aged only 30. You never truly recover from sudden bereavement. Last Sunday Mrs H and I sat in the Club enjoying afternoon tea and listening to carols. Without warning the tears welled up and I thought of how much my father would have enjoyed the singing. Thirty-three years since he died but the music he loved still moves me today.
I notice the quickening pace of obituaries, which fall into the category ‘surely he/she can’t have been that old’ and then I realise I am not much younger. But there are rewards too. Our granddaughter is now one year old and she brings joy to our life each day. She is starting to walk, her vocabulary grows by the day, she laughs all the time and we treasure each moment with her. Somehow the aches and pains of ageing melt away when she is with us. Personal contentment is a blessing.
I have been working hard this year. An accident. I took on a small role that has grown like Topsy. It leaves me less time for my traditional reading but has taken me into areas I thought were beyond me. A different path for the curiosity that has always driven my life.
The other sadness this year has been the descent of Hong Kong into chaos. It is hard not to take sides and of course I have my own views on where the blame lies. The irony is that we have been largely untouched and suffer no more than minor inconvenience. Just once the tear gas drifted along the street where I work. The eyes and throat stung and inhaling was unpleasant. For some however the fight is one of life and death, for freedom and democracy, for a future for the young and generations to come.
In the financial world the bulls have routed the bears and the pessimists are depressed that they have wasted so much angst on things that never happened. Then they smile a wry smile and hope for war, plague, pestilence and a 50% fall in stock prices that would make them truly happy. For many people if not most the stock market is an abstract concept at best. They may vaguely be aware that their pension has some linkage to stocks and bonds but otherwise the principal goal in life is to make ends meet. Fortunate are we that can do a little for others.
At some point I suppose I have to confront the closest we have come to war, plague and pestilence and that is of course Brexit. Perhaps in a few years time we will have to admit that Brexit was verily a good thing and saved us all from drowning when the good ship EU went down with few survivors. Or perhaps the Leavers will come to realise that the only thing they left was their senses. Scotland may be cast adrift somewhere in the North Sea, gradually sinking under the weight of refugees from the south. PM Johnson, now conducting parliamentary affairs (a speciality of his) in Latin will stand up in an empty House and proclaim Romanes eunt domus. Of course, not only the Romans but everybody else will have long since gone home. I mean, what did the EU ever do for us?
The one constant in my life, family aside, is my camera. Any camera in fact. I walk, usually without a particular goal and photograph whatever crosses my path. Birds and moths still command a special place. The streets of Hong Kong are always interesting as they change with the times. Whether Britain leaves or remains, Hong Kong stays free or not, whether the stock market goes up or down I can still find satisfaction in my wanderings with a camera. I have few needs and wants today beyond decent health for me, my family and friends. If I had a wish list it would be for more tolerance, more honesty, less pollution and a lot more humour in the world.
I wish all my remaining followers a healthy, peaceful and prosperous 2020.
The only ‘smoke’ bombs we enjoyed seeing this year. Party time in Amsterdam.
All the Rembrandts – another Dutch delight.
Hong Kong in 2019
And the side of Hong Kong of which I shall never tire: