Friday, 28 November 2008

Silly English Laws

I feel quite at home living in England for many reasons. One particular reason is that it is a wacky place to live with some incredible (and stupid) laws. My beloved country has existed for centuries; we have been overrun by Romans, Normans and Vikings, ruled by mad Kings and Queens and even crazier politicians. The result of all this insanity is the country I live in now, which sadly is much more sensible than it used to be.

However, fear not. There are some ridiculous laws that still exist in this green and pleasant land, laws that time has forgotten.

I swear that the following laws are true (to the best of my knowledge).

Let me first say that I have unwittingly committed an act of treason. I didn’t mean to, and to be honest, nobody told me not to. The treasonous law I have broken is the following:

It is an act of treason to put a stamp bearing the head of the monarch upside down on an envelope.

There are several laws involving the Houses of Parliament, the seat of our beloved (?) government. First of all:

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.

Oh dear! I must remember to leave my suit of armour behind when I next visit the capital. Should I do so, and should I decide to visit the Houses of Parliament:

It is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

I’d better go next week then just to make sure that the authorities don’t send me to prison for dropping dead in the chamber in my old age. Still with London, you may have heard the reputations taxi drivers have. Some can be very irritating. But you can threaten them because I know for a fact that each of them is breaking the law:

London taxi cabs must carry a bale of hay at all times.

How many taxi drivers in London have you seen with a bale of hay strapped to the roof? Exactly! Next time you hail a cab in London, ask the driver if he has a bale of hay in his boot. I guarantee there will be a look of incredulity and terror on his face. And here’s another reason to keep an eye on London cabbies:

It is illegal for a cab in the City of London to carry rabid dogs or corpses.

Mind you, there is a remote danger that you yourself could break the law because:

It is illegal to flag down a London cab if you have the plague.

Don't get a cab to the hospital then if you are suddenly brought down by a dose of Black Death. Call 999 instead.

Still with London, I regard Chelsea Pensioners as a little odd (please don’t tell them that), so odd in fact that it is very tempting to dress up as one for a fancy dress party. However, I am in trouble if I want to do that because:

It is illegal to impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner.

Damn! Another dream fades and dies. Perhaps I will drown my sorrows in a pub. Oh dear – I can’t even do that because:

It is illegal to be drunk on Licensed Premises (in a pub or bar).

That's another law I may have broken. Worse still:

All men over the age of 14 must carry out at least two hours of longbow practice a week, supervised by the local vicar.

Will they throw the book at me when they discover that I don’t even own a longbow? Perhaps I should buy one and go to Hereford:

In Hereford, it is legal to shoot a Welshman all day, but only on a Sunday, with a longbow in the Cathedral Close.

Now I don’t want to antagonise the Welsh as I have some very good friends who come from there but I will have to warn them that if they visit Chester then they must be wrapped up and in bed by midnight because:

It is perfectly legal to shoot a Welshman with a bow and arrow inside the walls of Chester after midnight.

Similarly, in York:

It is perfectly legal to shoot a Scotsman with a bow and arrow inside the walls of York unless it is Sunday.

Chester, York and Hereford sound a bit extreme. I think I’ll go back to my favourite tropical fish store in Liverpool and visit my favourite clerk:

In Liverpool it is illegal for a woman to be topless unless she is a clerk in a tropical fish store.

I’d better be careful not to kiss her though because:

A woman may bite off a man’s nose if he kisses here against her will.

A bit harsh, that one, I think.

Finally, with Christmas around the corner, I’m sure you will be looking forward to tucking into several mince pies on Christmas Day. If you do, though, you will be breaking the law because Oliver Cromwell passed the law:

It is illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day.

Oh well, perhaps that will help my diet. Please don't tell anybody I have broken the law, otherwise I'll send you a letter, put the stamp on upside down and tell the police that you made me do it.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Guys - Grow Old Gracefully

Does the fountain of youth exist? Is there a way for a man of my age to take a liquid of some kind and use it to rejuvenate myself?

Allow me to let you into a secret. I have discovered such a substance. And I didn’t have to trek to the deepest and most dangerous parts of the Amazon to do it. I merely switched on my TV set.

The miraculous product is readily available and is in fact advertised on the TV regularly. Yes, that’s right – it is actually available to buy in the shops for a mere £4.99.

You may have seen the advert yourself. It is heart-warming and creates a buzz inside that almost brings a tear to the eye. Picture the scene:

Two little girls stumble tentatively into a living room whispering to each other. One of them says “Dad?”. They are holding hands, clearly nervous. The music in the background is the kind you would expect to hear on a True Movie where somebody has overcome a major trauma to make them a better person. ”It’s time,” says the girl.

The camera moves to the settee where a man lowers a newspaper stares at the girls in puzzlement.

“You’d be a really nice catch for somebody,” says the other cute girl with a grin and then shows us the miracle. They lift up a box of “Just For Men” and offer it to the man imploringly saying “Please?”

After briefly explaining how this miracle works, we suddenly move to a restaurant where the man is now with a lovely woman. He takes a photo of the two of them and says “For my girls”.

Now at this point in the commercial I did three things. First I stared open-mouthed as I took in the message accompanying the advert. Then I threw up in disgust. Finally I erupted into a major (and I mean major) rant. The man in the commercial had one or two grey hairs and apart from that was perfectly normal. To me, he looked no different when he had applied the miracle cure. Furthermore, what kind of man would want a woman who only went out with him because of his youthful hair? Even worse, what would she do when she discovered the “Just For Men” in the bathroom cupboard? Can you imagine the scene?

Woman: You’ve been in the bathroom for ages. Are you alright?

Man: Er er er er – I’m fine. Don’t come in.

Woman barges in because man has forgotten to lock the door.

Woman: What’s in your hand?

Man: Noth..noth..noth..nothing dear.

Woman: Let me see …. AAARRRGGHHHH!!!! It’s “Just For Men”. It’s over, you grey-haired old fogey. How could you do this to me?????

I don’t think I would want a woman like that.

The commercial is, without doubt, one of the worst I have ever seen in my life. And believe me, I have seen many dreadful adverts (usually for products just like “Just For Men”). You can even get “Just For Men” for your beard! Here’s what I say – shave the bloody thing off.

I mean, come on. Do the people who make this really believe that eliminating one or two grey hairs on man’s head turns him into some kind magnet for gorgeous women? It makes me sick. As we grow older, men are being exploited by companies like this who prey on our fears. The same has, of course, been happening to women but I would like to focus on men (mainly because that's what I am and I don't understand the female psyche sadly).

I have a question to ask. Why can’t we, as men, just grow old gracefully?

I have monitored the effects of age on myself and to be honest I haven’t done a single thing to change them. True, I’ve been lucky in a sense because I have a full head of hair, none of which is grey. But I do suffer from the other signs of age; there are wrinkles appearing all over the place; my stomach is getting bigger; various parts of my body that used to be fine and upstanding are now drooping slightly. Losing weight is more and more difficult. My eyesight is getting worse. I'm starting to get pains in parts of my body that I never knew existed.

I don’t really care to be perfectly honest. The only thing I really want to do is to lose weight in order to be fit and to live longer. And also because I'm too tight-fisted to keep shelling out on new clothes.

As for the signs of ageing, I can guarantee that:

When I go bald, I shall not grow the hair on either side of my head longer and then comb it over the bald spot, nor will I glue it there. I will look ridiculous. More people laugh at those who wear comb-overs than anything.

When I go bald, I shall not even consider wearing a wig or toupee of any kind. I do not want to be called “Wiggy” by any of my mates.

When I go bald, I will not spray the bald patch with gunk that “hides” the spot. I’ve seen this in action and it looks absurd.

When I go grey, I will not use “Just For Men” on what is left of my hair. The chances of a man pulling a gorgeous woman simply because he has hidden a few grey hairs are, in my opinion, remote. Does any man who has a touch of grey really think that he will become an irresistable adonis if he rids himself of them?

When the wrinkles on my face become prevalent I will not use any L’Oreal product “because I’m worth it”. I will not inject myself with anything that puffs out my wrinkles and I will certainly not have any surgery that puts a permanent stupid grin on my face or stops me from opening my mouth wide.

I would urge men to grow old gracefully; embrace the signs of ageing. By all means, look good but don’t look ridiculous. You can’t fight it – why bother? We should be proud that we’re getting older, even though things do change.

I have one final thought on the subject of “Just For Men”. What happens if a woman uses it? Furthermore, what happens if you use “Just For Men” for a beard on your head by mistake (something that could easily be done with fading eyesight)? Does your hair fall out?

Maybe I’ll buy some, to satisfy my inquisitive mind. Maybe I’ll use it on one of the cats. I just hope that Mrs PM doesn’t catch me in the act.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Smile - With Two Doses Of Lemonade

The abstract title of this post may make you think – “Has Plastic Mancunian been at the cheese again?”

Fear not! I am limiting my intake of cheese (for now!); my therapist is pleased with my progress (as long as I keep away from cheddar).

Anyway, the point of the post is to let you know that I have been nominated for the Lemonade Award (twice) and the Smile Award.

I would like to thank Holly from Earth To Holly for the first Lemonade Award. I am delighted with this and would encourage you to pop along for a visit.

I would also like to thank Patricia at Communication Exchange for the other Lemonade Award and the Smile Award. Again I would encourage you to drop by there too.

Now this is where it gets tricky. The rules state that I have to nominate at least ten blogs for the Lemonade Award and five for the Smile Award. I read so many amusing and inspiring blogs that I am struggling to mention just ten. Apparently the rules for these awards are:

Lemonade Award:

1) Put the logo on your blog or post
2) Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude,
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post,
4) Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.,
5) Link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

The qualifications for the Smile Award are:

1) Display a cheerful attitude,
2) Love one another,
3) Make mistakes,
4) Learn from others,
5) Be a positive contributor to the blog world,
6) Love life,
7) Love kids.

The rules for the Smile Award are:

1) Please link back
2) Post the rules
3) Choose 5 people to give it to (Like Patricia at Communication Exchange I cheated here and am giving this award to ten people)
4) Recipients must fill the characteristics above
5) Create a post to share this
6) Thank the winners.

I will endeavour to make my nominations in due course, so I won't post the awards themselves just yet. I hope that's OK.

In the meantime, where’s that lump of cheddar?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Impossible Questions

As a child, I was a real pain in the arse (no change there then), particularly to my granddad. As an inquisitive, five year old, I used to ask him questions like “What’s the biggest number?” and “Why is the sky blue?”

Being an intelligent bloke, he did his best to satisfy my curiosity by answering such questions as best he could. Sadly, for certain particularly stupid questions he was unable to give me a satisfactory reply. For my sixth birthday he bought me a book called something like “Every Child’s Answer Book” which contained very simple answers to the crazy questions I asked. I loved it and read it from cover to cover. It even had the answer to “What is the biggest number?” – though when I discovered that there wasn’t one I was very disappointed - perhaps that’s why I studied Maths and Computer Science at university.

Unfortunately, as I have grown older, I am still curious about things. With the birth of the internet I can satisfy this crazed curiosity with my mate, Mr Google. However, there are some questions where the answer still eludes me. And what great questions they are. Feast your eyes on these:

What happens when an immoveable object meets an unstoppable force?

What is the exact value of pi?

What happens when you die?

What happened before the Big Bang?

Is time travel possible and if so, how can I travel through time?

Is humanity alone?

If space is constantly expanding, what is it expanding into?

Have we been visited by time travellers from the future?

Who was the first human being?

How many stars are there?
How many planets are there?

Now I realise that with some of the questions above, I am heading dangerously towards the subject of philosophy, a subject that is in the realm of the pseudo-intellectual and something I have previously spent time laughing at for its absurdity. However, in my defence, I believe that the answers to the questions above are scientific only and not a complete loads of conjectural clap-trap from the minds of people who talk pure piffle. My theory is that if you ask an impossible question to a philosopher today and ask the same question to the same philosopher in a year’s time, you will get two different answers.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh – judge for yourself. Here are some impossible philosophical questions:

What is it like to be a rock?

What is the opposite of a duck?

What is the answer to this question?

For how long is “now” here?

Would this question still say anything if nobody could read?

Do Martians like ice cream?

Is there a planet exactly the same as Earth but populated only by unicorns?

What colour is the number six?

What does purple smell like?

Is this a trick question?

Is an apple alive when you eat it?

If I am wrong then I apologise to all philosophers for my views on their subject. I don’t think I am wrong. What kind of question is "Do Martians like ice cream?" and what kind of person asks such a bizarre question? I’d be interested for any philosophers to answer that or any of the philosophy questions above – and then answer them again in a year’s time.

Me? I think I’ll stick with the scientific questions and ponder what would happen if I were to meet my future self – or is that too philosophical?

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Politics - I Wish It Were Really All Over

First of all I would like to congratulate Barack Obama for winning the U.S. Presidential election and I would also like to congratulate the American people for doing the right thing this time.

Now, finally, it is all over and there is nobody in the world happier than I am. I was in Hong Kong when the result was announced and it was all over every single TV channel out there. Barack Obama’s face was plastered over every newspaper, every single TV screen and there were even pictures of him in the street. Why should any Hong Kong residents care?

At least now I can now settle in front of the TV and watch news that doesn’t include the media circus that has surrounded this election for the past year. I will never see the face of Joe the Plumber again. I don’t even care who the man is. I will no longer have to hear Barack Obama and John McCain telling me that America is the greatest country on the planet. I was at the point where I was going to throw my bowl of cereal at the TV if I heard the phrase “God Bless America” again.

Of course, we all have to have elections. There is one due in the UK in 2010. The difference is that we will only have to endure the endless and relentless canvassing for a month or so. We will know who the candidates will be and we will have to endure lie after lie from each of them as they try to worm their way into Number 10. I will hate it and I will be sick of it by the end. But you can guarantee that there will be no rallies and no Hollywood style razzamatazz (can you imagine Gordon Brown trying to be a messiah to a sceptical UK audience?). We will not hear David Cameron, Gordon Brown or Nick Clegg refer to Britain as the best country on earth or that God should somehow single out our islands in preference to any other country. In fact, if one of the leaders finished off his rousing speech with “Britain is the greatest country on earth. God bless Great Britain”, it would almost certainly result in most of us voting for one of the other two guys.

I will hate our election in 2010. I will almost certainly write vitriolic posts about how awful the candidates are. I rant about them now. I yell “liar” at the TV whenever they appear. I scream “Just answer the bloody question, you arse” when an interviewer asks a question and they evade the point like an eel covered in oil. Below is an example of a politician, in this case Michael Howard, not answering the simple question - "Did you threaten to overrule him?":

A simple “yes” or “no” would have sufficed. And how about this from Boris Johnson (don’t get me started on this buffoon), the current Mayor of London?

It makes me wonder why we vote for any of these people.

So, the US election is all over and we have around a year or so to wait until it’s our turn. I have read numerous blogs from Americans supporting one candidate or the other and now, hopefully, many of the authors of those blogs will settle down and write posts about something else. it may take a while - those bloggers who love Obama are gloating while those who hate him are crying on their keyboards. I'm not a fan of posts or blogs that dwell on politics but I love to read posts about political gaffes so I will continue to pursue such nuggets of satire relentlessly. There is nothing better than a politician, of any party or nationality, that makes a huge and hilarious mistake.

I will finish with more from our very own Boris Johnson, a man who is lampooned mercilessly by satirists here in the UK. Americans have George W Bush, we have Boris Johnson, the Conservative mayor of London and touted, by some crazy people, as a future Prime Minister - I swear I will leave the UK if that ever happens.

Here are some of his quotes:

(On using a mobile phone while driving) - "I don't believe that is necessarily any more dangerous than the many other risky things that people do with their free hands while driving - nose-picking, reading the paper, studying the A-Z, beating the children, and so on."

(On ever becoming Prime Minister) - "My chances of being PM are about as good as the chances of finding Elvis on Mars, or my being reincarnated as an olive."

(On being sacked) - "My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters."

(On voting Conservative – his party) - "Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3."

(On drugs) - "I think I was once given cocaine but I sneezed so it didn't go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar."

(More on drugs) - “I can't remember what my line on drugs is. What's my line on drugs?”

(On Portsmouth) - "Too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs."

“Look, the point is ... er, what is the point? It is a tough job but somebody has got to do it.”

And finally, here is what the Governer of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger - the Terminator himself - thinks of bumbling Boris.

I’m sure he was elected Mayor of London as a joke. If the population of London can elect this idiot as mayor then there is no hope. Thank heavens I live in Manchester.

That’s why I despair when it comes to politics. I really do wish that we didn't have to endure this nonsense. I will not post on politics again until 2010 – unless George W Bush, Sarah Palin or Boris Johnson make any other gaffes of course, in which case I shall enjoy telling the world.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Cat Camera

Have you ever wondered what your moggy is up to when he's not following you around the house like a lost sheep begging for food? Are you even mildly curious about what your feline companion does after he has disappeared through the cat flap? Well, wonder no more for I have discovered a great way for you to find out.

I read a fabulous article in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago about people who have actually bought cameras for their cats. These cameras are attached to your moggy's collar and periodically take snapshots as he goes about his daily business.

What a fantastic idea! And what’s more, I’m disappointed that I didn’t think of it myself.

I want one. No, that’s not true – I want three – one for each of our cats.

Cats fascinate me. If you have read any of my posts before (here and here), you will be aware that we have three cats; two of our own plus a third, Spike, who is really owned by a near neighbour. We first became aware that Spike was not a stray cat when he ambled into our house wearing a collar and name tag with the name “Hamish” and a phone number engraved on it. Of course, I had to phone the number and discover who really owned him. Having done so, I visited the owner and discovered that she thought Spike/Hamish had simply gone missing. She told me that she had even tried to follow him, having to give up when he crawled through a small hole in the fence.

If only she had had a cat camera. She would have discovered a whole new world of information. She would have seen photos of:

(1) My ugly mug as Spike sits on my knee begging for food
(2) My sleeping ugly mug as Spike sits on my sleeping form begging for food shortly before giving up and lying across my face.
(3) My semi-naked body as I emerge, bleary eyed from the bedroom first thing in the morning searching for the bathroom.

You may agree, these things are not pretty sights.

The other thing Spike’s real owner told me was that some of the old ladies in her street feed a huge black cat whom they lovingly call George. This cat is so fat that he can barely crowbar his bulk through holes in fences. Does this post (here) give you a clue as to the real identity of that enormous black fat lump of feline blubber? Yes - I think so too.

That’s why I am tempted to buy three of these cameras. I’m deadly serious.

For Spike, I want to know if he distributes his time between his real owner and us or whether in fact he is “owned” by more neighbours. I also want to know whether he has more aliases other than Spike or Hamish

For Poppy, the cat who is scared of her own tail, I want to know if she has a dynamic feline alter-ego where she fights feline crime in neighbours’ gardens and is the scourge of the mice in the area. Is she Poppy, the mild mannered scaredy cat by day and SpiderCat the terror of birds, mice and other tiny woodland creatures by night?

For Jasper, I want to know just how much he is eating and whether we should confine him to the house for the duration of his diet (and yes, he is on a strict diet at the moment – and losing a little weight too). If old ladies are pandering to his gluttonous requirements I need to know about it.

As brilliant an idea as it sounds, there are a couple of things making me think twice about cat cameras.

First, Mrs PM thinks that the cats are her babies. She thinks that the cats love her and are one hundred percent committed to us. I know about cats. I know for a fact that you do not own a cat – the cat owns you. You are merely a source of mild amusement and a slave that feeds them. I know my place; all three of them treat me with contempt and only show me any attention when they are hungry. Jasper only sits near to me when he wants to steal some of my body heat to keep him warm. Spike sits on my knee only when he needs a cushion or when he wants a little bit of my dinner. Poppy only ventures out of her hiding place when her tummy is rumbling. But sadly, to Mrs P, they are like children. Even when they deposit the remains of a half eaten bird in her lap, she is unaware of the true nature of the feline.

Second, there may be a problem with the photos produced. I can imagine that Spike’s owner may call the police if she discovers a photo of me staggering out of the shower first thing in the morning. Worse still, she may see the camera around Spike’s neck and consider me to be a colossal pervert using Spike as an unwitting accomplice.

Maybe its not such a good idea after all, but if you are interested (or amused by the idea) simply follow this link.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

One Night In Wan Chai

Waking up with a hangover is a very unpleasant experience. I been afflicted by hangovers quite a few times in my life and have come to realise that the older you get, the more powerful the effects. In my youth, I would wake up with a headache and a feeling of nausea. The headache would feel like a lazy woodpecker tapping a rhythm in time with my heartbeat – annoying but nothing more – and would be easily curable with an aspirin. The nausea would be overwhelmed by a good old full English breakfast. By lunchtime I would be human again.

Now, in my mid-forties, hangovers are dreadful. The woodpecker has been replaced by an army of maniacs with road drills; the nausea is now a tsunami of gut-wrenching mayhem. The cures are the same but the effects last longer.

Why am I telling you this? Because on our third day of our recent holiday to Hong Kong I woke up with a hangover. Combined with my age and the effects of jet lag, the hangover took on a life of its own, beating me up relentlessly and mercilessly. Mrs PM and I had planned to spend the day roaming around the wonderful city. The excesses of the night before put paid to that, not least because we had slept until one o’clock in the afternoon. The only consolation was that Mrs PM (who is incidentally seven years younger than me) was just as bad.

How did this come to pass? How did a supposedly sensible and mature man like me allow myself to get so horribly drunk? I made a mistake – I allowed the teenager in me to take control.

It all started off so innocently. We had vowed to attempt to beat the jet lag and stick to our rough plan. Ten years ago, during a three month stint working in Hong Kong, we used to visit numerous restaurants and bars in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai. Our plan was to have a dignified meal in Causeway Bay and pop to Wan Chai to visit the Old China Hand and perhaps have a beer or two in another bar somewhere before retiring sensibly to bed at a reasonable hour.

It all started so well …

The meal was very lovely, a nice steak in a restaurant in Times Square in Causeway Bay. Mrs PM and I chatted about old times in this wonderful city, remembering favourite restaurants that had disappeared, others that were still there and reminisced about our first few weeks together.

After the meal, I noticed that it was getting late (around ten o’clock) so I suggested paying a visit to one of my favourite old haunts in Wan Chai, an Australian bar called Carnegie’s, for a night cap. Mrs PM concurred and later we found ourselves stepping out of the MTR station on Lockhart Road. To my delight, Carnegie’s was still there and still rocking as it used to. What’s more, they had a promotion on vodka, which proved to be very appealing to Mrs PM and to me too, since alcohol prices in Hong Kong aren’t cheap.

I had a beer and Mrs PM had vodka and cranberry juice. The rock music was loud, the atmosphere was vibrant and the clientele had started dancing on the bar and generally having a good time. I remembered good times from my time there and was captivated and consumed by the atmosphere. Before I knew it I had ordered another beer, then another.

Eventually we ran out of cash and, led astray by the alcohol, I volunteered to find an ATM, leaving Mrs PM to enjoy her drink.

For those of you who don’t know, Wan Chai is a very lively area and also full of strip clubs and girly bars. I was a solitary male, walking around on my own, searching for an ATM. To the women trying to attract men into the strip clubs and girly bars, I was prey. I walked past one such bar with an old woman sitting outside persuading men to come in. When she saw me, she leapt off her seat, grabbed my arm and tried to haul me into her club. Waiting at the door was a voluptuous young Chinese women with open arms waiting to ensnare me and drag me into her web of debauchery. I panicked and tore my arm away from the old woman screeching apologetic excuses. I managed to get away but before I had walked five yards, another old woman from another girly bar had launched herself in my direction. Somehow I managed to stumble away from her before she grabbed my arm. I’m sure that never used to happen in Wan Chai ten years ago.

Eventually I found an ATM and returned to the safety of Carnegie’s where I related the tale of my narrow escape to Mrs PM who, in deep sympathy, laughed her head off. At this point I encountered a drunk Australian who walked up to me, clapped me on the back and said “Jimmy! What are you doing here?”

“My name’s not Jimmy,” I replied.

“Bloody hell,” he slurred. “You look just like Jimmy. Are you sure you’re not Jimmy?”

“Positive,” I replied with a smile.

“You look just like a bouncer I know called Jimmy,” he continued. “Are you sure you’re not Jimmy?”

His mates joined in, trying to convince me that I was indeed an Australian bouncer called Jimmy. Eventually I returned to Mrs PM and she laughed at my expense for the second time that night. I can see her point; I do not possess any of the qualities that a bouncer requires, such as build, aggression, height and strength, plus, despite evidence to the contrary, I do have a personality. I could possibly be a bouncer but only at a club for children under ten – and even then I might struggle if one or two ate too much sugar.

Back in Wan Chai, we were having such a good time, that we decided to visit another old haunt, an Irish pub called Delanie’s, where we had another quiet drink. Across the road from there was a lively bar called Amazonia, featuring a live band covering hits by the Beatles. This was too enticing to walk past. As we settled down with yet another beer, a new band appeared playing classic rock hits. I was struck by the number of men in the bar, my age or older, who were cavorting with young Chinese women – it looked ridiculous so we decided to return to Carnegie’s for the infamous “one for the road”.

I have no idea how many more we had or what time we left. I do have hazy memories of being in a taxi and listening to the driver ranting about how terrible it is to be a taxi driver in Hong Kong.

As we left the taxi, the teenager within retired for the night leaving the mature person back in charge, giving me the opportunity to buy two bottles of water from the 7-11 next to the hotel. I knew we had had far too much to drink and would benefit from quaffing a large quantity of water. Thank goodness there was a sensible part of my addled alcohol-soaked brain still working.

The following morning (afternoon), as I prised my tongue from the roof of my mouth with my toothbrush, stared at the creature in the mirror with wild hair and bloodshot eyes and fought the hangover with every weapon at my disposal (water, aspirin, self-pity), I began to regret my over-indulgence. Mrs PM was also feeling very sorry for herself.

United in pain we faced our hangovers and ventured out of the hotel to Lan Kwai Fong where we found a pub that served English breakfasts all day. Armed with bacon, eggs, sausage, toast, gallons of orange juice and coffee, we did battle and eventually won. We were able to face the day as human beings – or in reality, two aliens pretending to be human beings. Our hangovers dissipated and we reflected on our night in Wan Chai.

We both agreed that we had overdone it. That teenager inside me has a lot to answer for. But, I tell you what – Mrs PM and I both agree - we had had a fabulous night.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

A Trip To Hong Kong

Tomorrow, I am returning to one of my favourite places on the planet; the wonderful city of Hong Kong.

I first visited the place on business around thirteen years ago and returned many times in the next six years, culminating in a three month stint there. Apart from being a wonderful place, Hong Kong has a special place in my heart, because it is where Mrs PM and myself got together ten years ago. We are returning for our anniversary before heading off to Thailand for some relaxation.

I can’t wait. I have such vivid and fabulous memories of the city. Whether it’s enjoying the breathtaking views from Victoria Peak, riding the Star Ferry to Kowloon to marvel at the unbelievable skyline, venturing into an authentic Chinese restaurant, partying in Wan Chai or Lan Kwai Fong, walking around Aberdeen, bartering at Stanley Market, shopping in Causeway Bay or simply wandering around the metropolis breathing in the atmosphere, I simply cannot fault it. We last visited in 2005 on the way to Australia but our time there was short. This time we are there for longer and can savour our time there.

We have a plan of sorts. The problem is that there is so much we want to do, we are going to struggle to fit it in the three or four days we are there and will not have time to relax. To be honest I don’t want to relax too much; I want to embrace the whole place like a long lost friend; I want to take it for a meal and chat about old times.

Suffice it to say, I will be armed with a camera and will almost certainly bore the arse of any readers of this blog with our exploits upon our return. I don’t care, really. Those of you who have been there will know what I mean when I describe the place as brilliant; those who haven’t will hopefully be intrigued enough to pay the city a visit yourself.

You won’t regret it.

To finish off, I have some interesting fact about the city:

( 1) Hong Kong is the city with the most Rolls Royce cars per capita in the world.
( 2) Human sewage is one of Hong Kong’s major exports. This “natural” product is sold to China to fertilize farmlands.
( 3) Hong Kong is made up of more than 200 islands.
( 4) Hong Kong has 25 of the 50 busiest McDonald’s restaurants in the world.
( 5) Hong Kong is home to the world’s longest escalator.
( 6) Gambling is illegal in Hong Kong, except for horse racing.
( 7) The bronze Buddha at Po Lin Monastery on Lantau island is the largest sitting Buddha in the world, standing 24 metres high and weighing 250 tons.
( 8) Hong Kong means “fragrant harbour” (not so fragrant now).
( 9) Kowloon means “Nine Dragons”.
(10) Lifts in Hong Kong generally do not have a floor 4, 14, 24 etc. because 4 sounds like the Chinese word for “death”.

See you in two weeks or so.