This is how dining used to be in Old Hong Kong: chaotic, crowded, fast-paced and delicious. Those preferring plush seats, waiters fluent in English and a table to oneself should best dine in the large hotels.
The Lin Heung Tea House stands on the corner of Aberdeen and Wellington St, in the that part of Hong Kong Island called either Central, Western or Lan Kwai Fong, depending upon which guide-book or map you use. It is a five minute (uphill) walk from Central MTR, and is opposite the Hotel Lan Kwai Fong.
Despite the name, the Lin Heung Tea House is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For a first timer to the Fragrant Isle, the place can be overwhelming, but is well worth the effort. In traditional style, plates and cups are rinsed before use in a bowl of hot water sitting on the table. Tables are communal, and at busy times it is often easiest and quickest to find your own seat. (Locals will often wave you over to join them). Continue Reading →
Under the skilful hand of Graeme Greene, the tone of The Quiet American changes with
each reading. The soft voice of Fowler contrasts with the violence of the world around him.
After dinner I sat and waited for Pyle in my room over the Catinat
So opens the novel. Not until the novel’s ending do we realise Fowler knows Pyle to be dead, although he pretends to himself Pyle may have escaped the doom Fowler himself helped arrange, if only by proxy. What exactly drives Fowler to this – for he knows what will come of Pyle should Fowler simply stand by a window, reading. Although he pretends otherwise, Fowler himself does not really understand his motives. Despair in the false foundations of Pyle’s good intentions; the hypocrisy which sees innocents die to impress the politicians of home good cause; jealously; fear of being alone; justice – all these play a role, yet even Fowler never knows the predominant emotion. What angers him most is Pyle’s blindness to the hypocrisy and faults of his beliefs, yet anger is an emotion the repressed Fowler can not express. Continue Reading →
All happy families resemble one another, but an unhappy family is unhappy after in its own way.
So opens Anna Karenina, begun by Count Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy in 1873, and widely regarded as the pinnacle of realistic fiction.
Tolstoy believed a novel should start in media res – in the middle of things. Anna Karenina begins with the Oblonsky household in chaos, following the discovery of Stephen’s affair with the governess. From this opening, the characters in Anna Karenina search for their own meaning in the themes of love, marriage, fidelity, jealousy, questions of faith, all against the backdrop of changing contemporary Russian life. Continue Reading →
The Via Dei Servi leads from the Duomo to the Piazza Santissima Annunziata, a pedestrian-only piazza which has always held special importance for Florentines. With its distinctive arcades it remains one of the city’s most picturesque squares. The Grand Duke Ferdinand astride his horse between a pair of fountains decorated with monkeys spitting water at sea-slugs. Up until the end of the 18th C, the Florentine New Year began on the Feast of The Annunciation (March 25th), and each year the feast is marked with a huge festival and a fair which fills the piazza and over-flows into the side streets.
The Piazza Santissima Annunziata was designed by Brunelleschi, who also designed the two main buildings, the Spedale degli Innocenti (Hospital of the Innocents) and the Bascilica della Santissima Annunziata.
The Basilica is the mother church of the Servite order, (hence the Via Dei Servi) often known as the Servi di Maria (Servants of Mary). This order was founded in 1234 by seven Florentine aristocrats collectively termed the Seven Holy Founders, who, on seeing a vision of the Virgin, retired from Florence to a hermitage in the wilds of Monte Senario. The church was founded in 1250, and originally known as the Oratory of Cafaggio. Continue Reading →
First published Italy Magazine, reproduced with permission
Well, my window
meets San Trovaso
things have ends and beginnings
Ezra Pound Cantos
When Ezra Pound arrived in Venice, he took rooms near a walled garden on the Rio San Trovaso, opposite a squero (or gondola building yard). Only a few squeri now remain in Venice, although at the height of her powers some ten thousand gondolas served the city. The gondoliers’ knowledge of the canals is legendary, and legend holds they are born with webbed feet, to help them walk on water. Continue Reading →
I speak French to my ambassadors, English to my accountants, Italian to my mistress, Latin to my God and German to my horse.
Frederick the Great of Prussia
Kneeappears by 900AD, coming from the Old English cneo, or cneow. These words derive from the Proto-Germanic knewan, from the Proto-Indo-European geneu (an ancestral language of the Indo-European family, dated to roughly 5,500 years ago). From geneu arises the Latin genu, giving words such as genuflect (1630) and geniculate.
Curiously, knee-cap (the noun, not the verb associated with gangsters) doesn’t appear until around 1870, yet knee-high to a grasshopper was first recorded in 1851. The term the bee’s knees became popular in the early 1920’s, as did the bee’s nuts and the flea’s eyebrows.
On the 28th March, 1814, Lord Byron penned in his diary:
Yesterday, dined tête-à-tête at the Cocoa with Scrope Davies… drank between us one bottle of champagne and six of claret, neither of which wines ever affect me. Scrope…was tipsy and pious and I was obliged to leave him on his knees praying to I know not what purpose or good.
Praying, of course, can lead to Parson’s knees. The term Wii knee was first used in 2007 for injuries caused by exuberant playing of Wii games. Wii wrist, Wii elbow and Wii hip soon followed.