There are those days when you feel you’re in the middle of one of those trailers for a black and white movie where a manly voiceover would scream out things like, “MORE FEARFUL THAN FEAR ITSELF!” and “A CITY UNDER SIEGE!” and “WHERE IS BATMAN?”
What Hong Kong has been going through for over a year is its own rocky and wobblyhobby horror show- peaceful demonstrations that morphed into violence and split a city apart.
This is where I arrived by ship from Colombo at nine, was a stranger in a strange land called Hongkong, and thought nothing of living in a shoebox in North Point on the 27th floor with my parents, my aunt, uncle, cousin and grandmother.
This is where I took a Shaukiwan tram to Quarry Bay School, possibly the first “East Asian” to be accepted.
This is where I first faced racism- and beat that devil at his own game by being a good pupil- academically and in sports- if you call Rounders a sport.
We were having dinner with a few cricketers over the weekend. Not just any cricketers. World class cricketers. Guys with whom I was and still are in awe. But heroes rarely last forever. Most eventually disappoint.
These cricketers were talking about their complete disinterest playing in a five day Test match, let alone a series. How much discipline was needed. Being kept under lock and key. Every move being scrutinised. But with there being the 20/20 game, One Day Tests, it was all very much about big money for almost nothing and plenty of models, actresses and groupies for free. It was a Dire Straits song.
Some people just can’t help being LOUD. And at the Champagne Bar of the Grand Hyatt, it was where many LOUD people congregated during HKIR week. Many from overseas. It was tough to take.
On Sunday, after the last race at Sha Tin had been run and horse racing’s “Woodstock Generation” was heading home came a booming voice how Hong Kong racing had “found its mojo again.” Maybe it had. Maybe it was just hiding. Often, it’s all about timing. Whatever.
New horse races, bigger prize money, being disruptive to be competitive, bringing in more and more elitism to horse racing, playing another round of Game Of Thrones, fine. It’s your gig. Doesn’t bother me either way. But when you prattle on about “younger people” and horse racing…
“Younger people” is not some alien race, Pete. They’ve been around since the world was round.
All of us were once “younger people”- inquisitive, difficult, belligerent, demanding change, making change happen. And then we grew up. And as grown ups, it was felt there was a need to act like grown ups. Most failed miserably. Look around.
How long is a ball of string? It’s always something going through my head when around experienced creative types with proven track records and being challenged to think differently. Come up with ideas. It forces one to be at the top of their game. It’s not the time to play a hand with Jack high and pray to hell it’s high enough.
It happened last weekend in Sentosa at a Think Tank session comprising a couple of people in music, a few from technology, others in marketing aka “social media”, and sports and sponsorship marketing and management. No HR people needed. No need for those who have a new idea every nanu second and hope something sticks.
Of course, we’re creatures who are riddled with quirks- like petty annoyances that have to do with, well, stupidity. A particular peeve is hearing someone say, “it’s raining outside”. Of course, it must be raining “outside”. When does it ever rain inside? Anyway, it’s been raining outside most of the day. More rain is forecast. For outside. On, by the way, what would have been Bruce Lee’s 78th birthday. Maybe the sky’s crying for Bruce and Brandon.
Today’s also a Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley racecourse. Some enjoy hanging out at the Beer Garden and singing and dancing in the rain. Everyone has their own bouts of weirdness. Maybe some will still be celebrating what would have yesterday been the 76th birthday of Jimi Hendrix. We sure don’t consume music like we used to when music kept that long train running. That’s for sure. That long train has been derailed. Even The Marathon Man has stopped running. Still, great music by great musicians live on. It keeps us honest. To ourselves.
It’s like music festivals. There are so many around these days that music fans are spoilt for choice. There’s also a pecking order attached. The bigger the flapjacks appearing on the bill, the greater the magnet to be there. Very often just to say that you were there. An Instagram moment.
Glastonbury, Ibiza, Roskilde- it’s about the music and the vibes and the people and the location. And in what is a downturn in the economy, it’s also about value and who provides music fans with more bangs for their buck. More of everything, please, but without that price tag to attend ever becoming exorbitant. Pricing out the good times.
Before returning to Sydney for family reasons, Tye Angland was seen by many as being a future champion Hong Kong jockey.
A surprise choice to many in Australia to receive a license to ride here- the doubters thought he was too young, an unknown, and wasn’t ready to cope with the goldfish bowl world of Hong Kong racing and the sharks and tadpoles swimming around the seaweed- the real surprise was how quickly the tall former rodeo rider adapted to everything going around him.
Hong Kong racing and the speed in which the city moves, like it’s done to many in every industry who have moved to Hong Kong over the decades, force people to grow up. Leave the innocence of country life behind and become more “international”. It’s kinda like being a Gloria Gaynor song. Change and learn to play the game or be prepared to be thrown under the bus.