Saturday, 1 August 2020
Follow Your Sign . . .
WE all need guidelines in life. An old pal and former Royal Navy Leading Seaman used to reminisce about his favourite port of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong (pictured below).
"We just followed the sign for San Miguel on the waterfront," he told me (often), with a fond twinkle in his eye. Old salt Jack, who sadly passed away the other week (see Column and Poem pages), meant their night-time guideline when going ashore after they had anchored or docked at HMS Tamar in the harbour.
My own guiding sign, when I lived in the now troubled former crown colony back in the '80s, wasn't far off Jack's mark - in distance anyway.
It was a Christain cross on a strange triangular, colonial building just as you emerged from Central District into busy and very 'local' Wanchai.
This was also the colourful waterfront area made famous in Richard Mason's inspirational romantic novel and William Holden and Nancy Kwan's worldwide hit film in the early '60s, 'The World Of Suzy Wong'. It was where sailors headed, for clubs and bars, but also full of good ethnic restaurants and, in my first years there, my shared flat on busy Hennessy Road.
That odd building, with its sign of spiritual hope and universal kindness, was the quirky Solders & Sailors Home, once a well-meaning colonial welfare institution but, by my time, a place for cheap meals, accommodation and quiet rest used mainly by local students and travellers.
I was drawn by its nearby accessibility and colonial menu, which included Sunday-type roast dinners. My hopes of rekindling some atmosphere of home life through such a dinner at the weekend were sadly dashed (you can find out why in my memoir of newspaper and travel years, 'Only The Good News'), but it has since appeared in my novels (see also 'The Last Ghosts' and, most recently, 'The Lost Hero').
As we slowly begin to emerge from the Covid pandemic, this non-profit-making, light-literary website - started by retired journalists tired of all the bad news - hopes to be relaxing and inspirational too, while full of uplifting guidelines for life and a better future.
Readers from around the globe are invited to catch up with our latest efforts on the Chapter/Story page, or our Books, Poem or weekly updated Column/Memoir pages.
We hope you, too, find what you're looking for!