Friday, 14 February 2014

Passport for Kwinana

When the S.S. Darius was built in 1892 by Doxfords of Sunderland for the Melbourne Shipping Company little did it know that under a new identity it would give its name to a town in Western Australia for the ship was later purchased by the Western Australia State Shipping Service and renamed, S.S. Kwinana, which is Aboriginal for 'pretty maiden'. It made a profit on its first voyage which was to carry coal from Newcastle to Freemantle.

However, in 1922 it was damaged by fire and whist awaiting repair it was blown from its moorings and wrecked on the beach near Rockingham. The owners decided that it was not worth repair and stripped and abandoned it. The hull was filled with limestone and covered with concrete and the Kwinana became a landing stage. The area became known as 'Kwinana Beach' by the locals and when British Petroleum arrived in the 1950s to construct an oil refinery there, they naturally used this name to identify their refinery and the workers' village which they built nearby. The village grew into a town and so this otherwise unremarkable ship gave its name to a settlement of 40,000 souls -- Kwinana.

What a lovely smile!
Sharni, the library assistant at Kwinana
library holding up their copy of my book.

My cousin Jeremy took me to Kwinana Library where we found library assistant Sharni who showed us their copy of The Passport, one of the three to be found on the catalogue of Perth Libraries Western Australia.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The Passport in Hong Kong

From  my hotel window I could see the new Central Library in Hong Kong so after breakfast I walked across Victoria Park, past the Chinese groups practising their Tai Chi, and visited it. 
Hong Kong Central Library is the cream coloured
building in the centre of the picture.

Lady reading in library

The building extends over nine or ten floors in a series of mezzanines arranged around a central atrium up one side of which climb the, popular in Hong Kong, all-glass lifts. Having ascertained that I could consult the library catalogue on the computer terminals, I was all set up to do so when I realised that they had no keyboards which made typing in an entry rather problematic. 
Man reading in library

Finding another bank of terminals on a different floor I negotiated the Chinese/English dual keyboard to discover that the library owned two copies of the first edition, first impression of my book The Passport. How pleasant!

This is my first visit to Hong Kong and having seen only what must be a small and highly unrepresentative section of the city, my impression can be summed up as: motorways, malls and monosodium glutamate.

Motorways ; There is one bicycle in HK. I saw it. It was a Brompton folding bike ridden by a European. I hope he is still alive.

Malls: If you like shopping, this is the place for you. I hate shopping.

Monosodium Glutamate: The smell of this appetite-inducing chemical lingers in the street outside every restaurant.

The day that I arrived a construction company working in the inappropriately named Happy Valley district of the territory unearthed a 2,000lb. World War 2 bomb, one of only eleven that had been dropped by the US Air Force in 1945 in an attempt to encourage the departure of the Japanese. The area has been evacuated with the residents moved to a luxury hotel. Not my hotel.

And in my hotel, when resting on the bed, I nearly reproduced a disaster that had befallen me in Brussels many years ago when I had recklessly flicked through the TV menu on the remote control without bothering to put on my spectacles and had selected the porn movie instead of my on-screen hotel bill. (Yes, I know, everybody uses that excuse.) The five seconds of frantic fumbling (by me, not by those on the screen) needed to escape the heaving pink had cost me twelve pounds. Now, as I lazily repeat the mistake of unbespectacled viewing, I am horrified to discover that I have logged in to Orgasm TV. I quickly snatch up my spectacles. Don't panic. It's Dragon TV not Orgasm TV. What a relief.

What a disappointment.