Romani ite domum

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.

Smoke on the Water

All the Rembrandts – another Dutch delight.

Alle Rembrandts

Hong Kong in 2019

Cry for Freedom

And the side of Hong Kong of which I shall never tire:

Inside the Man Mo temple





18 thoughts on “Romani ite domum

  1. A Happier New Year to you, Andrew, and all your family. I am sorry about your godson, and know well how the shock lingers alongside the sadness of a young death.

    We have just parted from our 9 month-old granddaughter and a few days ago from our 13 month-old grandson. They hold our heartstrings and they do indeed provide a counter weight to the chaos of the outer world. Re obituaries, as my not-so-well brother quoted – they are now picking from our pen – so we had better get used to the idea.

  2. At our age, we must expect loss but it is supposed to be of contemporaries, not someone less than half our years. My condolences to you and Mrs H. The Venn diagrams of our respective 2019s have considerable overlap. I lost close friends on consecutive days and two beloved (and self-confessed ancient) aunts leaving us (almost) the senior representatives of the family…but gained a grandson and a daughter-in-law. I don’t carry my camera as much as you (or as I used to) but I have a dog who makes each wander philosophically and aesthetically worthwhile. Belated Christmas cheer and all good wishes for 2020.

  3. Thanks for the post, Andrew. Well constructed thoughts as always. Wishing you, Shirley and the family, including Lulu, a very happy 2020.

  4. It is good to have one of your always well-written posts to read again, Andrew. Although there is sadness contained in some of the paragraphs, there is also your wit which is always enjoyable. Age takes its toll on us all and time does also when we lose those we love. Clinging to the memories is the best salve we have in dealing with those feelings.
    I echo Yvonne’s sentiments that maybe you will start to post some of your images, whether birds, insects, or street.
    I am glad you have such a delightful granddaughter to bring you cheer and hope for all the best for you and Shirley and the family for the coming year.

    • Leia is a constant joy, Steve. She is with us as I write this and will stay overnight. We can look forward as well as back and with happiness as well as sadness. Perhaps the best for us all is to live for today. Best wishes to you and Mary Beth for the coming year.

  5. It surely has been quite a year, in so many ways for so many people.

    Thank you for your usual thoughtful words, and the photos.

    Your godson’s parents must feel like their hearts have been torn from them.

    I wonder what 2020 has in store?

    • Yes Yvonne, Tom’s parents are still coming to terms with the loss. Every anniversary is painful. I try not to think too far ahead but it does feel like it is make or break year in so many ways.

  6. Thank you, Andrew for taking the time to write this post and to include some photos. I think I like the last photo in the series- it is beautiful.

    Memories of ones parent/s indeed will often bring tears and I must say that the tears are not those of happiness. I also, think of my parents, at odd times of the year but it seems that Christmas is the one time that we probably think of our parents the most. I have a feeling that you favored your father a great deal.

    I know your granddaughter brings much enjoyment to your home when she is visiting. The little ones are just too cute with their ever changing growth. Life is so simple for the infants who delight in all manner of discoveries.

    Last but not least I am glad to know that you continue to photograph the birds and I will always identify you with the beautiful bird photos that you used to post. Maybe one day you will once again find inspiration and time to post some now and then.

    • I will post some bird photos Yvonne. I do less these days but I do have a few half decent ones I can share without embarrassment. My father never photographed birds but he loved watching them. We used to go for long walks in the woods looking for birds and deer. Happy memories.

  7. I am saddened to hear of your loss. What a tragedy when a life us cut so short. Like you, I’m beginning to see the obituaries pile up, and some people I hold dear are even now facing death.
    There are so many losses too out in the nature I love, with far fewer creatures sharing the field and forest with me than before. I confess I’m struggling with this, this year. I suppose it is like reducing a sauce, isn’t it? One finds that what is left is the more precious.

    • Thank you Melissa. The world does not seem to be going in a very good direction. My only hope is that we turn it around before the tipping point is passed. We have had crises before and survived them. Mortality is inevitable of course but no less painful nonetheless when the lost one is so young and talented.

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