Once upon a time and served on a saucerful of secrets were the Sixties. For a while, it was the Age Of Camelot. There might not have been Merlin, but it was a time full of magic- magic in the form of music the world had never heard before that took listeners on various journeys of discovery and where they might have found themselves or else lost their way and ended up in Itchycoo Park or the Dark Side Of The Moon.
There were wise men who had dreams to bring the world together…and did. The four horsemen of the apocalypse galloped into lives with messages some understood then and whose words only resonate now. Words that asked about all the lonely people and where do they all come from. Words about that Nowhere Man making all his nowhere plans for nobody.
Pulverising the senses with non-stop clutter. That’s how a friend describes it. Life in today’s social media mad driven would where, try as one might to escape the tsunami of information and misinformation and information overload that we certainly don’t even need, it catches up with you. And it’s getting worse. It’s the great plague of our time. It’s what negatively affects us with everything. Yet, many keep going to that well… To the abyss.
Left Facebook and Instagram. Updating both accounts had taken over. Taken over from trying to make my real life relationship with someone go somewhere. It was my compulsive personality running the show. She tried to wean me off it. Go cold turkey. Get out more. Exercise. Sexercise. Cook. But it didn’t work. She walked.
Less is more. Or less was more. And maybe this is where Hong Kong has gone wrong. It’s become Mr Creosote.
Gluttony has taken hold of the city. Perhaps not gluttony so much, but because of not knowing what people want, throwing everything against the kitchen sink and see what sticks. Usually, nothing. It’s just another buffet of odds and sods. Fusion cuisine where confusion reigns as no one is really sure of anything. It’s Dabblers Anonymous.
When first arriving in Hong Kong from what was then Ceylon, there suddenly appeared the…lunch box. It was a brilliant concept. Lunch in a box. For a nine year old, the highlight was a Saturday. Mum would have a half day from work and would bring home a lunch box- either chicken curry and rice or baked pork chop and rice from what was probably the first fast food outlet in Hong Kong: Ong Lok Yuen.
It’s signalling the end of an era. It’s heralding something new about to happen. Some of us are wondering what’s in store next.
Some of us are facing our own mortality. And though trying to live life to the full in the allocated time given and move forward, there’s the nagging feeling that the race has been run and it’s time to coast. And so you wait for things to happen. The answer is on Netflix because it’s hipper than Facebook. Really?
It’s actually on the snack menu. Meant to be enjoyed with a glass of wine or a glass of champagne. But have an order around 7pm and that’s dinner for the night. It’s on the menu of the Champagne Bar at the Grand Hyatt and comes in six pieces- basically, lobster salad with celery and a little kicker which can be eaten as a spread on toast (HK$350) Goes down a treat.
After that it was probably 9 or 10pm, the resident singer and friend Maricel was singing (except on Sundays), and the once popular 5-star bar, hardly the meeting place that it was, plodded on. Where is anything like what it was when Hong Kong today is bulging with choices? Where things get wobbly is that none of these choices are much good. But if at the Champagne Bar without any great expectations, like one of the regulars- an extremely attractive female lawyer who just wants to chill out, not be bothered by inebriated desperados, and take in the music- it’s a safe, pleasant night out. Expensive to many, but when in any five star venue of a five-star restaurant does one not expect to pay five-star prices? This isn’t McDonald’s.
You’re judged by the company you keep. My parents drummed this into me and I kept along this path for years until ego got the better of me and it became an adult version of being with the cool kids. But when swept along by enablers feeding off wherever you can take them, the company become strays and false friendships are formed and last long past their Use By date. And in this day and age of “engaging” on social media, “followers” become “friends” until you reach that point where you’re hit with a large dose of reality and jolted into the land of common sense.
It’s about taking stock of your life and prioritising those who really matter. It’s not about taking in strays and for reasons that make no sense undertaking various acts of kindness other than feeling pity. Are these ever repaid? Of course not. They’re taken for granted and always detonate along the way. There are of course also those acts of kindness that can take one into some extremely perilous and dysfunctional relationships.
If looking back on the friendships made after a career in advertising, journalism and music, there would be less than ten people I would consider friends- those one can trust and who’ll be there for you. Really be there and not just the false promises. The rest? Acquaintances at the most and really not very important ones.
Having reasonably recently been involved in the horse racing industry- involved as opposed to being in the thick of it- there are probably two and a half individuals who would be considered friends. Again, plenty of acquaintances, but where there’s no trust, and no engaging in the real world, and too many cliques and click baits, even with all its problems, there cannot ever be the chance of a friendship. No one even passes Old Kent Road.
As for social media, there are zero friends. One might enjoy the company of a few people actually met in “real time”, but the rest are only names with nothing else there. It’s like online dating. A few acquaintances have jumped headfirst onto online dating sites where some have even married those found there whereas others show photos of the new someone in their lives even though they’re still to actually meet.
One such person has been seeing the same girl for eight years. They’re still to meet. She’s a single mother in Kiev and he’s penniless in Paris.
A couple of girlfriends I once dated are with men they’ve met on online dating sites and who have become marriages of convenience. They have bailed them outta financial problems and offered them security. These are sugar daddies. It’s no different to being a highly paid escort.
It is what it is and it works for both sexes as the male of the species who’s down on their luck is also looking for that emotional and financial security. So what you have is this fake world of make believe and with everyone carefully keeping up pretences.
Whatever happened to meeting someone, eyes meet and where one knew from holding hands that this was meant to be and that there couldn’t be a day that went by without being with each other? Those days are gone because romance is gone. Romance is gone because honesty has been replaced by games and pettiness.
Once upon a love, there was someone in my life who would say, “Romance me.” The feeling was there, but that simple action was put on Hold. I always thought it could wait. It couldn’t and that time together faded to black.
It’s still about believing in romance, however, and how much music plays in this dance of life. The problem is that it takes two to tango but the right partner is becoming someone almost impossible to find as, again, technology and sites and social media platforms have ripped out that much-needed emotional quotient. The heart of the matter.
It’s become all about the challenge and the conquest rather than working to make sure it works with the right one. About remembering where the first one went wrong and not bludgeoning the same mistake to death.
Like collecting online “friends”, we’ve stopped being choosy or are so locked into whatever happened when you pressed Enter that’s become the rest of your life.
Our parents had it right. We’ve been lousy students. We’ve also been childish adults. Shame on us.
It’s about sheeple. Gawd knows where we took the wrong turn, but we did and all individuality and independent thinking has gone out the window.
It’s now all about conforming, but this new “conforming” has to do with aimlessly following some invisible Pied Piper of Hamlyn who’s taking us everywhere and nowhere. It’s like an old Jeff Beck hit called “Hi Ho Silver Lining.” “You’re everywhere and nowhere, baby, where did you go?” I really don’t know.
It’s become a chore to find people one wants to be around, let alone work with to create The New. Everywhere, and no matter where one travels, it’s listening to those who say they “get you”- but they don’t- and others who blabber on while you order another drink and try to numb the pain of listening to, well, stuff. Irrelevant stuff. But it’s the only stuff around.
We said our final goodbyes to our great friend Big Kev on Thursday- barrister, raconteur, and man for all seasons and reasons in Kevin Egan. In attendance were many from Hong Kong’s legal community, politicians, some from the horse racing community- a pastime he embraced with great passion- many from the constabulary, a few who successfully straddle both sides of the law, and longtime friends who were part of his circle of life.
There were two eulogies where we heard what some of us knew and a few things we didn’t. Big Kev played cricket? And the clarinet?
More seriously, we heard the toll the ICAC case against him and when, after almost four years of being relentlessly pursued before finally being acquitted, impacted his life. How here was this larger than life character who knew everybody and pretty much everything about everyone whereas we knew so little about our friend. That’s how he wanted it. No tea and sympathy for Kev.
While toasting him after the funeral, and remembering as much as he allowed us to know him, a mutual friend showed us a text about Kevin insisting that he had won his battle against what he described as “Spanish” cancer. How to assemble the troops together for a celebratory drink. This never happened.
Some of us never knew about this final fight and which wasn’t held in any courtroom. He fought it alone. In hospital. All he’d tell us would be how he would be out of town for a few weeks to see his brother. And then he’d be back, call every race day and say, “So who’s going to win us the Six Up?” It’s the only bet he was interested in. There’ll be no more calls on race day. There’ll be no Kev on our side with free advice. To say, “Mate, give him my private number. Let me see what I can do.”
As “Danny Boy” was sung and Big Kev left the building, minds were filled with great memories of a great friend who left us quietly and without wishing to burden us, but taught us so much without working at it. Without lecturing us.
By just listening to Kevin, we learned so much. He’s left us with a great gift- the gift of life and how nothing is quite what it seems but the good always trumps the bad.
RIP, Kev. We’ll still text you our thoughts for the Six Up just in case you want to have a bet.
The problem with today is that everything is so immediate that nothing really matters. There’s no lasting power. It’s a dangerous time to be alive because not many appreciate being alive. Life has become a buffet- sampling everything but still being hungry for more when often there’s nothing more. And it’s this hunger to be constantly fed clutter that has made so many lose sense of priorities and in the process left feeling lost and restless.
When minds snap through feeling lost and restless, they go hunting for anything to feed this addiction. We read everyday what this voracious appetite to feel something leads to and the mad aftermath of it all. But by then, it’s too late.
It was my last girlfriend who tried to wean me off it- Twitter. Though pointing out that it was taking over my life and, without me even realising it, detonating any chance of trying to make our relationship work, I refused to listen. I was lost to the clutter of 140 words or less. Instead of there being one less bell to answer, it was adding another empty online junkie’s lament dressed and disguised as some bluebird of happiness. Progress has created some dangerous addictions. It might explain much about a world having lost its way. Lost with no direction of home. Refusing to recognise the tell tale signs.