May 27th 1984

posted in: The way back | 0

Spaced-out Steve + I both got bawled out at some impossible hour for sleeping on the settee in the TV lounge.  It was choice on his part, more or less necessity on mine, for when I had finally decided to go to my mattress on the floor, I had discovered, like Baby Bear, that someone was sleeping on it.  When Val shook me awake a couple of hours later, we went off once more to sample the delights of the Hong Kong supermarket, + returned laden with goodies for a fine breakfast (tho’, unforgivably, we forgot the Corn Flakes.)  Then, after a more than leisurely meal, we set out to buy a small radio-cassette player.  We knew the model we wanted, + more or less the price we would have to pay, so when we found one in a shop just off a side-street, we bought it, along with a pair of headphones.  It was a small Sony, which, along with the cassette, had 5 SW bands, an FM, and a MW.  We immediately went to a shady spot near the waterfront, + were delighted to pick up an English folk music programme, broadcast from Britain on the Forces’ network.  After killing some time pleasantly in this way, we went over to the nearest telephone office – Hong Kong has many – to try once again to ring Mum – we reckoned a Sunday morning would be a good time.  Phoning from here would have the additional advantage of my being able to reverse the charges, impossible from Nepal.  I thought that Mum wouldn’t mind, + that it could be part of my birthday present.  They were remarkably efficient, + within about 15 mins I was talking to her.  It was a very short call, + we said little.  The telephone, especially over a long distance, is a fairly useless means of communication, I find, except to transmit the basic information.  “I am alive and well now!”  Mum did sound well, + not really at all surprised to hear me.  I’m glad we finally managed to speak to her – the next call, presumably, will be from somewhere in England.

For the rest of the afternoon, we sat in the hostel, reading + listening to the BBC, before we indulged in the total luxury of a home-cooked meal – steak, potatoes, + brussels.  Wonderful.  Come the evening, I slumped in front of the telly once again, + once again the evening degenerated into a long night, sitting + talking + smoking.  Once again, there was Steve the Freak, me, plus an English girl with a big mouth + not much sense called Alison, + an American.  We were joined late by 2 young Scandinavian guys, a Dane + a Norwegian, quite drunk + soon quite stoned too.  The conversation was alright, but time-wasting, leading  nowhere.  Not that I was prompted to go to bed – for some reason, the same thing hits me whenever I’m in HK.  Finally crawled to my bunk as the sky was beginning to lighten.

It is most assuredly a good thing that we decided not to attempt to stay in Hong Kong, for it seemed to produce an instant lassitude. But, at long last, the radio was a most welcome distraction, carrying us instantly back to Blighty…

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