Clockenflap 2011 (2/3)

Thursday 22 December 2011, 11.00pm HKT


(Continued from Part 1)

SOMETHING ABOUT Clockenflap that could throw you off-balance a bit:

  • Four-fifths of the festival-goers (expats and locals alike) spoke perfect English and seemed completely Westernised.
  • One-fifth were merely people from non-English-speaking countries, so they spoke with funny but adorable accents.

Now, because of that, you’d probably think this was primarily a ‘gweilo’ event. You’d be wrong — it was pretty chockful of our locals there.

(‘Gweilo’ or ‘gwailo’ (rhymes with ‘high-low’) is Cantonese for ‘devil-person/fellow’ and means ‘foreigner,’ usually white-skinned. Rather like the Mandarin ‘laowai’ — literally ‘old outsider’ — to mean the same. Mostly, ‘gweilo’ or ‘laowai’ are not hostile or racist terms, but a lot depends on the context and intent. It’s like ‘Yankee’ — it depends.)

Which sort of confirms my own observations down through the years and across different continents that when a person speaks fairly solid English (or any other European language), his or her musical tastes tend to broaden considerably.

Trust me, the best parts are now a-coming. It contains insights about people in general that aren’t necessarily about this crowd, but only using it as a springboard.

* * *

The Crowd

The nice thing about Clockenflap was that there was an even balance of ages — from toddlers to grannies. It’s much more enjoyable like that than having a crowd skewed to one age level. Most ‘local’ musical events tend to be age-skewed — either all-young, all middle-aged or all-geriatric. But then again, most Chinese tend to clump together like that.

*

INSIGHT #4

  • It isn’t actually how old you are.
  • It’s how you come across at your age that gets you through to others.
  • Presence and young-at-heart are most important, especially if your physical features are on the oldish side.
  • Youth is always desirable, especially in the old.
  • If (as the British would say) you’re a well-turned-out 60 year old, with a glimmer in the eye and a partiality for nice, cool, young-at-heart stuff appropriate for your actual age, then you’re always ‘young’ in other people’s mind’s eye, be you 40, 50, 60 or 70.
  • It is easier to be young-at-heart than it is to pretend to be.
*

The girls knew they’re being checked out, and they made sure we had ample space and time to check them out.

Be sociable! If you (male or female) aren’t being checked out, you are not sociable enough.

*

INSIGHT #5

The first thing you’ll notice when you have expats and locals coming together in large numbers is how much better the expats and semi-expats (overseas-raised locals) tend to look after their appearance.

(It sort of helps to be able to afford fashion magazines priced two or three times the magazines’ cover price.)

I’m not talking about the expensiveness or cost of their clothes — if anything, it’s the locals whose clothes are often pricier. I’m not even talking about how well they look after their health or bodies either.

I’m just talking about their outward appearance — you know, how they kit themselves out. Expats and semi-expats also tend to know the ‘correct’ garb to wear for occasions like this one — no high heels or shimmy dresses or great big massive Siberian overcoats.

*

The Belvedere vodka stand. When the temperature started falling to 9°C (48°F) by early evening, the vodka wasn’t booze anymore. It became essential survival equipment.

(Strictly speaking, alcohol won’t keep you warm. But what the hell, most people don’t care for survival facts anyway.)

No, the vodka wasn’t free, but it did come in teacup-sized shots.

No, nobody got drunk. We tried, but it didn’t work with the cold and the wind blowing up our, err — let’s just say pantaloons.

Note the skyscapers (the J.W. Marriott hotel complex) as backdrop. You’ll never get this in an American or European music festival.

*

I called this area The Circus. It’s just a circular piece of grass around the medium stage that people just started sitting on. Quietly. Yes, I mean quietly.

This was the area where high concentrations of emo kids and other ‘difficult’ types clump together. Birds of a feather, I suppose.

By the way, somebody earlier had pulled out all the “Do not sit on the grass” signs from The Circus, and then handed them over to the nearest security guard station, explaining that the sharp stakes could injure the toddlers around. You could see the orz look on the guards’ faces.

SCENARIO

Emo chick sulking away in typical passive-aggressive fashion for having been brought here by parents.

Mother was getting pissed off at emo daughter’s non-response whether she felt chilly or hungry or thirsty or something. Emo chick continued sulking, saying nothing, turning her back on everything.

Young chappie around emo chick’s age butted in, and tells the mother to stop nagging her daughter:

“You’re doing it wrong. Give me her hotdog and I’ll take care of it for you with her.”

(Emo chick was extremely well-cleavaged, so we can assume young chappie had a vested interest in wanting to get to know her.)

Young chappie trundled off towards some nearby random sitters there, and gestured them to pass on the hotdog and the bottle of water to emo chick. Emo chick took them from the go-betweens and ate the lot without a murmur.

Quality of life just improved for the mother knowing that:

“No, you can’t do it directly with people like her. You have to do it sideways.”

*

INSIGHT #6

Difficult types have an in-built mechanism for recognising other difficult types. They also have a congenital radar to detect what is wanted of them — just that they refuse to ‘do it.’ The more you want them to go one way, the more they go the other. It isn’t rebellion. They’re just being difficult. They don’t want the attention, but can’t stand the isolation either.

The young chappie’s got it right. Just pass the ‘message’ on to the least difficult character you can find, let that character pass on the ‘message’ to the emo, and everything will be fine. Birds of a feather. Irregulars accept only from fellow irregulars.

*

Nightfall a-pace. Temperature dropping suddenly, the breeze picking up, and all manners of cattle started clumping together for warmth — and the long lines for the latrines.

*

Local bird. Look at her bum and you’ll know she’s Westernised. I found out she’s got some connection with Australia.

(Trust me, I know a lot about this bum-to-Westernisation correlation business.)

*

INSIGHT #7

Locals who speak a foreign language (like English) rather well tend to be friendlier and easier-going than locals who don’t. Reading ability doesn’t count.

*

Expat bird. Yes, the bum/Westernisation correlation works! This American chick came to Hong Kong when she was a baby.

*

INSIGHT #8

Expats and semi-expats who’ve lived in two or more other countries before are far, far more approachable than the same who’ve lived in just one place.

*

Euro bird. Well, a Brit MILF, if memory serves. What can I say? They’re bonkers. This one had these lovely, adorable freckles on her back.

It’s true: British bums are different from the rest.

Frenchwomen have nice, old-fashioned derrieres — I reckon mainly because of the fresh food they tend to eat.

Italian women have nice love-handles. Enough said.

Sorry, Americans. Your chicks usually stop having bums after the age of 21. They have ‘things’ that are nominally asses. Your chicks need to exercise more and do less camwhoring.

*

INSIGHT #9

  • Girls with big, flabby bums end up with luser guys.
  • Girls with rounder, smaller, firmer bums — nearly always with winner guys.
  • I don’t know why — just what I noticed.
  • Your mileage may vary in your locale.

*

INSIGHT #10

Homegrown Hong Kong Chinese birds are loud and picky with a litany of aversions, disinclinations and overconsiderations.

Local expat girls are stuck up and mean (unless they also speak Chinese, in which case they’re merely stuck up).

ABC birds (from the States) are loud and stuck up.

BBC birds (from the UK) are bonkers + stuck up + trying hard to be ‘English.’ Especially funny if they’re from Doncaster, Stockton or the Tyne and Wear region. BBC birds from London are more like New York City chicks than from London.

‘Broccolis’ (British-raised local Chinese) are evenly divided between the calculating types and those who are whiter than ‘a whiter shade of pale’ and still stuck in the 1970s.

Aussie Chinese birds are friendly, all good poledancers, but they know what you have got in mind — and they’re not letting you have it. And they have flippin’ strong grips too.

Singaporean birds are weird control-freaks who think they are unique but actually more like a more cosmopolitan version of Hongkongers with a hybrid ANZ-American-Britspeak accent with the wrong syllable stresses.

French and francophone Chinese birds are insufferable because they are 100% friendly and 100% capable of spinning you around like a top, and you don’t know whether you’re hot or cold with them. They’re French and you’re fried.

Newly arrived expats start off pretty nice but soon become less friendly to Chinese faces — but, then again, most new expats here aren’t as friendly as the homeys in their home countries anyway. Remember F.I.L.T.H.? (‘Failed In London, Try Hong Hong.’)

Broadly speaking, broadly speaking.

*

INSIGHT #11

  • Observation, actually
  • PRC girls (chicks and MILFs from mainland China) mostly wear skintight jeans
  • Mostly in the Italian style that you see in fashion magazines
  • You can tell the skintightness is copycat
  • But they do copy quite well

* * *

The Antifreeze Tent

Offically called Side Flap and next to the main stage (?), I dubbed this The Antifreeze Tent. This was where people took refuge from the wonderfully enjoyable crap weather by dinnertime.

“Shit! They’re all from London here! Let’s go somewhere else with real people in it.”
— Woman with a north of England accent

*

INSIGHT #12

Londoners are most anxious among the British/English about being recognised as Londoners. The others (other English) don’t much care; a simple ‘British’ will do just fine, thank you very much.

For the Scottish, yoo’ve gott to be deeeaf nott to hearrr thah accent in the firrrst plaece.

The Welsh: “We’re not Londoners and we’re not Cockney. We’re Welsh. Like Duffy. You accidentally right into that one, didnt’cha?” (Note the Welsh habit of skipping verbs at random points.)

The Irish, however, want you to know they’re Irish solely because they don’t want to be mistaken as English — which they are not, even if they speak perfectly unaccented ‘English’ English. They’re also good-natured if you get it wrong, and state matter-of-factly that, “Weer dif’rent peep’l. Weer terrorists when weer sober. That’s why we hef Guinness all day long.”

The Americans wonder how the heck practically everyone in an ex-British colony like Hong Kong speaks with an americanised accent.

The Canadians are long used to being confused for Americans, especially confused Americans.

The Euronals don’t care because they can see you’re totally hypnotised with their funny and adorable accents.

Aussies and New Zealanders pretend to be each other just for kicks, and the two countries have a binding treaty for that.

The South Africans (‘Suf-efrikens’) snigger that you just can’t identify their accent.

*

INSIGHT #13

The Eurasians (people of Asian and European parentage) are far more Asian/Chinese than they think they are, and much less ‘white’ than they imagine.

*

INSIGHT #14

Two quality-of-life-changing protips here for enhancing your approachability for others (and vice versa):

For women:

  • Dead easy.
  • Just speeek wis a leettle Fren’ch accent.
  • Just some words; doesn’t ’ave to be a’ll.
  • Zer tri’ck iss zer soft Fren’ch ‘r’ (non-rhotic to the linguists). Zer Fren’ch “aah’r’uh.”
  • Zer subtle sh’rug an’d ewpen palms at bu(r)st level are compulsory gestures.
  • Persuasive looks: Square glasses, red lip-steee’k, coloured tights, pointy shoes and hat.

For men:

  • Trickier to do.
  • Speak a Germanic accent.
  • The German accent is an acceptable and authorised English accent.
  • The best German accent is the it’s-there-but-not-annoying one just like from actor Jürgen Prochnow or the even fainter accent of Matthias Schweighöfer.
  • Robotic: Arnold “I’ll Be Back” Schwarzenegger Austrian accent.
  • Verboten: B-movie Panzer Division Stalag Luft Nr. 31 Jawohl-Herr-General German accent — it just sounds too psycho.
  • Eminently sexy: The Dutch accent of the eminently sexy actor Rutger Hauer.
  • Avuncular: The upper-class Swedish accent of Max von Sydow.
  • Rutger Hauer’s accent is especially appealing to women because they can’t tell if it’s French, Dutch or German (as I’ve been reliably informed by various kinds of chicks).
  • Persuasive looks: Titanium-rimmed square glasses, soft tan-coloured suede jacket, charcoal-grey jeans, black ankle dress boots.

For men (in front of American women):

  • Ditch the Germanics.
  • Go for gold with the French accent.
  • Not Pink Panther Inspector Clouseau French accent (that’s an Englishman’s French accent).
  • Not François Truffaut’s (too challenging).
  • Speak like Alain Delon (romantic) or Jean Reno (manly).
  • Jean Reno’s is easier.

This insight clearly is worth its weight in gold. The invoice is in the mail.

* * *

‘She’s not sleeping!’

“Jesus Christ! You can’t do that!” yelled the mother.

The platinum blond(e) toddler had just kicked that woman slumped over there in the shins.

She’s the one cowed in foetal position with the red handbag, next to the expat kids fagged out from playing the swings all day.

“Mum! She’s not sleeping!” the toddler cried.

That instant, we all realised something was wrong. The medics came and fetched her away. Turned out that the woman, a local Chinese, was suffering from overexposure, what with the cold drinks, lack of food, the harbourfront cold and all.

We all thought she’d just passed out from the booze or something.

Yes, folks, cold exposure comes on suddenly. Just like heatstroke, there are no warning signs in the practical sense.

Please check on fellow partygoers occasionally, even if you don’t know them personally.

That toddler probably saved that woman’s life.

* * *

UP NEXT IN PART 3 — The other stuff

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog. All images by me.

2 Responses to “Clockenflap 2011 (2/3)”

  1. greg said

    ‘that toddler saved the womans life’ . i like that.

    Like

Comments are closed.

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