Moon Cake Typhoon

Wild celebrations may have been on the cards at French Connection after a broker forecast it would break even in the financial year of 2019.

It says much about the state of the high street in Britain when breakeven is a cause for optimism.

Here in Hong Kong we don’t have much of a high street left after the visit of super typhoon Mangkhut.

Mangkhut was by far the worst typhoon I have experienced since I arrived here in the 1990s.

The SAR’s infrastructure has been badly damaged. Public transport was disrupted and a conservative estimate put the loss of trees at 15,000.

(I suspect it is far higher.)

When I scrambled around my usual hiking route on Tuesday no road or path was clear.  

The clean-up is going to take a while. Beaches have been closed as sewage plants have been damaged and are discharging partially-treated sewage into our seas.

In fact, many low-lying areas have been flooded. Remarkably I have seen only one report of a fatality.

The noise of the wind was deafening all day. In some of the exposed areas gusts exceeded 240kph. We were fortunate that it was at its worst during the day so we could do constant checks for leaks.

Much of the clear up work is being done by volunteers.

As I walked back down the hill on Tuesday the invariably cheerful local road sweeper seemed about to break down. He is not in the first flush of youth and the road was difficult to negotiate even for the fitter walkers.

Quite what he was supposed to do on his own I can’t imagine. His fatigue was painful to see. I gave him a bottle of mineral water and suggested he take a break. These workers probably get the minimum wage and work in extreme heat and humidity and what to them is bitter cold. I always give them a decent lai see at lunar New Year.


Men Only

Yesterday I ventured into my club and spent a happy hour or so in the Reading Room. Gentlemen only. No mobile phones permitted.

A real refuge of peace.

Many magazines are on subscription so no need to forego Country Life, Private Eye or Ferret Fanciers Monthly.

There is however a modest delay in their arrival. This means that I can read something like MoneyWeek a couple of weeks after its publication.

It is always interesting to see how much of the content remains relevant after such a short time. I then ventured into the bar for lunch. A gunner is my usual lunchtime tipple.

I chose my lunch and was asked if I would like extra vegetables.  I nodded a trifle reluctantly whereupon two large pork sausages were added to my plate.

Sausages; my favourite vegetable. 


Crisis? What Crisis…?

Try as I might I have struggled to find a new crisis this week.

Nobody seems much interested in Trump’s new tariffs. Turkey has not yet cooked its goose. China agreed to invest US$5bn in Venezuela. Stock markets continued to climb the wall of worry and hit new all time highs in the States. The EU and Britain continued to play chicken over Brexit.

On the contrary, it seemed to be a week of good news.  Michael O’Leary is considering stepping down within 5 years, cannabis stocks have been on a high and police have revealed that The Croydon Cat Killer is probably a fox and not Mrs. McFarlane from number 27.  

The biggest shock of the week was the pound’s meteoric rise to 10.38 against the honkie (at the time of writing).


The Ball in Their Court

Apart from Mangkhut Hong Kong has been glued to the TV this week waiting for the verdict on the yoga ball murder.  

A Malaysian professor, a specialist in anaesthesiology, put a leaking inflatable ball containing carbon monoxide in the boot of a Mini Cooper driven by his wife.

She and their 16-year-old daughter died from inhaling the gas. The professor had claimed he intended the gas-filled ball to be used for killing rats.

Not surprisingly the jury thought there must be easier ways of killing rats and found him guilty. It didn’t help that the domestic helper told the court she had not seen a rat in six months.

The professor is now starting a life sentence. I can see no possible reason for coming into contact with a yoga ball. It smacks of exercise.

I am happy to conclude therefore that my own chances of being poisoned in such a way are low.


Moon Cakes

And finally, next week we celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong. This is a time for family gatherings and much celebration, usually including the giving and receiving of moon cakes.

Tradition has it that much joy is demonstrated on each side before the moon cakes are carefully put to one side as a display of the giver’s generosity.

After a suitable interval they may then be consigned to the recycling bin.

As a foodstuff they (just about) compare favourably with a set of Michelin tyres.

Or am I thinking of abalone?  

As the poet says: “May we live long and share the beauty of the moon together, even if we are hundreds of miles apart.”  

A very happy Mid-Autumn Festival to you all.


Hu Ziss in Hong Kong
This letter is the personal view of Mr Hu, and is not necessarily the view of Alan Steel Asset Management.