Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Once you depart, the rules change

Tai Long1997. Hong Kong had been returned to China. The Mainland called it ”The Handover,” and the Britons referred to it as ”The Take Over.” We were on a barge, the skies wept, Prince Charles was there, Chris Patten, his three daughters, I cursed the seasickness and wished fervently I’d stayed at home and watched the whole drama on BBC.

On the ferry, in that same year, Clive, my banker friend, a British expat who also resided on Lamma Island, said, not unkindly: ”You see only obstacles.”

We were discussing a plan I was brewing but what plan I do not recall.

Clearly I was sabotaging it, Clive cut through all the static.

One more time.

”You see only obstacles.”

In the same way that Hong Kong was returned or grabbed, it surrendered or it was seized, that sleight of phrase says a great deal.

Obstacles or openings.

Doors, bridges, walls or dams.

Opportunities or hurdles.

Mental turbulence. It’s a given on the brink of a new story.
Mental stories are cursed or blessed, doors or bridges. Choose wisely.

PS: One of Chris Patten’s three daughters flew into Hong Kong some time after the handover. As she stood at the Immigration Desk, she was asked for the exit stamp in her passport. There was none. Because, of course, she, her siblings, mom and dad had sailed out of Hong Kong, not flown. You see, once you depart, the rules change and you can’t return to your old life. The passport has no stamp.


google images of tai long wan beach & the handover ceremony 



Please register or log in to comment