November 07, 2003

You Asked, Simon Answers

Simon has graciously risked public humiliation to answer your questions!

For those of you who have not met Simon, he is an Australian...but he lives in Hong Kong. Now is your chance to find out why.

Plus you can learn why he refuses to hang out in a cave with me (and most of the rest of you people) by clicking below.

Are you nervous?

Umm, is this microphone on? Is my tie straight? Did I put pants on this morning? It's really hot in here. Can I get some water please.

How did an Aussie end up in Hong Kong?

It's your usual story. Boy slogs guts out at university. Boy gets job at multinational corporation. Multinational corporation sees opportunity to exploit proletariat by shipping cheap labour to Hong Kong. Said corporation discovers such cheap labour in Australia and ships it (well, we flew, but you know what I mean) over. Sort of ironic, what with 1.2 billion Chinese next door.

What are three things that you love about living in Hong Kong and three things you wish you could change?

Three things I love about living in HK:
1) the Government will throw taxpayers money at just about anything
2) the tax rate is lower than Pamela Anderson's cleavage.
3) it is a fascinating mix of cultures, a Western city right in the middle of the most dynamic and varied region in the world.

Three things I wish I could change:
1) the attitude of the people, just introduce them to some Western ideas of personal space and courtesy.
2) the weather. Summer is 3 months of 90% humidity and 33 degrees Centigrade daily (look it up, my non-metric friends). And at night it only dips to the mid 20s and still is 90% humidity. I miss the cold.
3) the slightly smug superiority complex Aussie expat bloggers in Hong Kong seem to exhibit. That really gets me.

Translate the following into Chinese: I would gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.

The quesiton shows an appalling lack of understanding. There is no one Chinese language. There are many dialects, with Mandarin the main language, but Cantonese the language of Hong Kong and the one I am grappling with. Neverthless, I will try to translate:

"Hey, Giles, it's your shout for lunch, McDonald's is across the road."

Do JC and PB speak Chinese?

JC speaks English. She can say Barbie pretty well. PB I think speaks Chinese because I'm not really sure what else it is. Disturbingly Misti the dog seems to understand her best.

Marmite-friend or foe?

Like all good Australians, Marmite is nothing to me. However Vegemite is one my essential five food groups, the others being (in order) pizza, chocolate, alcohol (it can be a food if you try) and fried.

Why are you so crap at backyard cricket?

Ah, I see my brother has entered the arena. For those not blessed with an understanding of this game, try this. Now like all little brothers, mine could never win unless I let him. This remains the case. So if I am "crap" at this game, I dread to think what words describe his performance.

Given my little brother has no blog nor right of reply, I have realised how I can release years of repressed anger...

How did you react when you broke a window playing indoor cricket?

It was a windy day, that day, my friends. The storm was blowing in from the west and a wicked wind 'twas it. 'Twas it the ball or an errant branch from a tree? Can we ever "know" anything? What is truth? Have I thrown out enough red herrings to distract you yet? Look over there! Quick.

What was your favorite childhood toy?

My little brother. He bounced. He rolled. He lost a lot. But somehow he learnt how to talk and fight back. I still can't get the store to take him back.

Why did you write a constitution for a made up country when you were 8 years old?

It was destined to become Munuviana so it was all worth it. Plus if you knew my brother you'd understand.

Why did you start a blog?

Someone at work first put me onto Gweilo Diaries and that got me into the whole world of blogging. Next I dabbled via Blogger but thought it was too much effort. Then I came back to it and realised it doesn't take a lot to get a blog going. Plus it makes communicating with the family back home much easier. Instead of Mrs M writing a weekly email to family and friends, I do the blog (hence the weekend updates). Then I can fill in the rest with all my random thoughts and observations. There seem to be enough.

I just realised none of that was funny or intersting. I'd better put something mildly amusing in the next answer or I'm toast.

Which bloggers influence your writing?

Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Jesus. They've all had an impact. Actually given there's already Allah and now Yahweh Jesus might have one next anyway. (phew)

Seriously I wouldn't be able to put a finger on any one blogger that influences my writing. I think everytime I read another blog I like a little bit of that blogger's writing and technique stays with me. You call it plagarism. I call it influence.

Heh. Indeed.

You have to spend the rest of your life in an underground cave with one Munuvian. Who is it and why?

This is tough. Munuvia is so full of intelligent, good looking and interesting people that picking just one would be hard. Helen is an obvious one but I'm not sure we could deal with all those issues. She would bare her soul and I would make pithy sarcastic unrelated remarks. And no doubt Jim and Don would be after us with their cows and Objectivism. Pixy would be fretting about his crashed computer. If it was Jen I'd learn way more trivia that I need. Don't even get me started if it was Kang A. Roo.

The truth is there is only ever one Munuvian I could spend the rest of my life with in a cave. Luuk the Everyday Bear.

Tell us about your troubled past. Specifically that mess with Madonna and Britney. How is it that you've escaped the paparazzi on this one?

I am tempted to walk out of here right now. I said to those two that if they want to do for the world what they did for me nightly for 3 years in private then the whole threesome thing is off. I'm not selling out for anyone. Well, at least not until the last question.

As for the paparazzi, if you saw how many photos Mrs M takes of me you'd understand how used to the attention I am. The whole thing paparazzi thing is so 1998 anyway. It's all about blogging now, duh.

Why is carrying hot coffee between your legs while driving not a good idea?

It's just not. Ok. Trust me.

That Steve Irwin guy is insane, right? Not all Australians are like that, are they? Just the crazy ones?

No, all Australians think Steve Irwin is normal. Actually most Aussies have never heard of Steve Irwin.

Personally I think he's a wuss. Wrestling crocodiles is nothing compared to taking on two little girls and a dog all at the same time.

If you could travel back in time and change one thing that happened to you, what would it be?

The easy answer to say something damning about my brother. So here it is: I would make change my brother's personality so he was my personal slave. Otherwise I would go back about 5 years, hunt down Evil Glenn and prevent him from becoming whatever it is he has become.

You get three wishes. What are they? (And ix-nay on the wishing for more wishes.)

1. Bill Gates realises he should give US$5 billion to an Aussie expat blogger in Hong Kong so he can blog full-time.
2. He decides it should be me.
3. This interview was over.

Ummm, is that it? Is that camera off now? (Phew) Well that went pretty well Jen, didn't it? I don't those little SoBs suspected a thing. Heheheheh. Indeed. (Bhuwhahahahahahahaha)

(Insert men in white coats here.)

PS: this is all off the record, right? No one will ever really read this? Right? that case, hi Mum.

Posted by Jennifer at November 7, 2003 12:00 AM


Great job, Simon! But you should have picked me for the underground cave--I've got that flamethrower I use for tackling my templates...

Posted by: Susie at November 7, 2003 01:40 AM

I would have LOVED the pithy and sarcastic remarks.

Luuk loves you, though.

And must confess-the "translate into Chinese" question was mine, but my fingers were faster than my brain-I swear I meant to write "translate into Cantonese", since I did know (honest!) that Cantonese is the language of HK.

My bad. Sorry. Still, I thought it was a funny question and an even funnier response.

Well done on the whole thing!

Posted by: Helen at November 7, 2003 02:04 AM

Thanks Susie and Helen. With you both and Jen, that now makes three people who've read this!

The Munuvian question was tough, one of those typical no-win kind of questions. Much like when a woman asks a man if she looks big in something.

H - I figured the Chinese question was you...I was testing you on the pithy/sarcastic thing.

Maybe I should spend a night with each of you in the cave and just see how it goes...a one night stand ;-)

Posted by: Simon at November 7, 2003 03:25 AM

Actually, the computers are working fine, it's just that my disk drives keep dying. Little bastards. Next one who tries that gets the blowtorch, you hear me!

Thank G-d for RAID-5.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at November 7, 2003 05:57 AM

Hey, I thought R-1 was better for disk access times.

Good interview, Simon. This is like 5 people who've read it now. And I'll make sure Luuk gets a look at it when he arrives.

Posted by: Jim at November 7, 2003 11:22 AM

Make that 6. Next time I go to Park n shop in Park View I will be on the look out for you and you will pay heavily for not plugging me!!! Everyone plugs the damn gweilo. Grrrr.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2003 03:17 PM

Make that 6. Next time I go to Park n shop in Park View I will be on the look out for you and you will pay heavily for not plugging me!!! Everyone plugs the damn gweilo. Grrrr.

Posted by: Phil at November 7, 2003 03:18 PM

"...nothing compared to taking on two little girls and a dog all at the same time."

- - -Uh.

I'm assuming that doesn't mean what I assume it means.

Posted by: Jon Henke at November 7, 2003 06:38 PM

Phil: if I ever see you at Park n Shop at Disneyland i'll get JC to scream out "It's Dr. Evil". You've been warned... ;-)

Posted by: Simon at November 7, 2003 09:01 PM

I guess this is 7. Just wanted to add that I've been to Hong Kong twice (Go Navy!) and have to agree on the positives. Such an odd cultural mix, but quite delightful.

But the lack of personal space... not their fault, really, (lots of people, not much real estate) but it made an American like me feel slightly claustrophobic everywhere I went.

Posted by: Harvey at November 8, 2003 11:33 AM

8. My turns coming... I hope i measure up to all the bloggers that have gone before me!

Posted by: The Bartender at November 11, 2003 11:31 PM

Very inspiring, thankyou! Good luck to you in the future. :)

Posted by: Ready Clean at January 5, 2004 08:13 AM

Am I too late?

I enjoyed this interview - just use this as your about Simon :-)

Posted by: Ozguru at May 5, 2004 12:31 AM