Monday, February 19, 2007


This part of February appears to be passing in flurry of Penguins blog action, and this post a few days ago got me thinking about some of my earliest memories.

Valerie & patroclus expressed an interest in knowing more about why I have been chased by monkeys. As this is one of my earliest memories it got me thinking about some of the others, so...

In my early years my Dad was in the army and for reasons that (at least to me) lie buried in the mists of time, he was posted in Hong Kong for two years. I was about 3 when we arrived, blinking furiously in the sun and heat, and the majority of my most vivid early memories come from that time in Hong Kong. So for your delectation, here are the most vivid four (as 4 is my favourite number today) in reverse order:

4: At that time, the main airport in Hong Kong was not outside the city as it is now, so the block of flats where we lived was on the main flight path. Planes would often fly very low over the most densely populated areas of Kowloon City. It was very loud but very spectacular, particularly at night. I remember that we used to sit on the balcony of the flat (I vaguely remember it being near the top of the block) and watch these huge planes roar overhead. We used to play a game where we we would try and guess what airline the plane was before it came close enough to see the livery. This video will show you just how low they used to fly.

3: My favourite drink was apple juice and I vividly remember that the cartons had unfeasibly bright and colourful apples on them.* I remember sitting at the table in the flat with my Mum drinking apple juice and painting with those paint kits that have hard tablets of paint (a bit like this). While I was painting, my Mum would usually chase around the flat after my little brother as he climbed all over everything, periodically breaking things with a little mischievous grin on his face.

2: While living in Hong Kong we went on a holiday to Malaysia. My younger brother was perhaps 1 or 2 years old and at the time of the holiday was rather ill and cried a lot. One morning my Dad took me out very early to escape the caterwauling. We walked down to the beach and sat on a big rock at the end of it and watched the sun rise and the fishing boats making their way back in after a night's fishing.

1: Finally, the most vivid memory of all. In Malaysia, we had a trip to a park where a colony of wild monkeys could be fed by gullible tourists and their stupid children (me). You bought a bag of peanuts and then could fling them at unsuspecting monkeys. I remember feeling a bit nervous about these fuzzy potential killing machines. However, I spied a small cute one at the base of a tree and trundled over to feed it a peanut. What happened next is hazy as it appears to have been blocked out by the gut-wrenching terror. It would appear that the mother of said small cute monkey took exception to me and proceeded to chase me away from her young. Looking back it felt like I was being chased by a pack of slavering bloodthirsty monsters all infinitely more terrifying than King Kong. The reality is probably somewhat more mundane, but these are my memories and I will please myself thank you very much...

I saw an exhibition on Saturday at Urbis marking the 10 year anniversary of Hong Kong's handover to China. Its worth checking out. But it reminded of two more things that I remember about Hong Kong.

The Star Ferries and the cable cars:

I'd be interested to hear about other people's earliest memories. Particularly if they involve conflict with animals...

edited for some shocking spelling. I am most ashamed.
* 22/02 - I am reliably informed by my Dad that the juice I was so fond of was in fact Mango juice, not apple. Well, all I can say is that pictures of mangoes and apples look similar to a 3/4 year old. So there.


daz said...

Hey Bro,

Great post, I dont remember much about it although I remember a chinese woman who lived downstairs who used to get peeved cos I used to fling my toys off the balcony into the pool!!! and also generally being mischeivous! so what happened with your unreasonable fear of bee's then lee? Another run in I tink? I seem to remember you me and mum and dad out in a beer garden and a bee came close and you ran screaming to the car!! lol! you were about 14 at the time. very funny.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Hey daz,

Oh yes! I'd forgotten about your penchant for dispatching your toys off the balcony! Ha Ha!

As I recall, it wasn't bees, but wasps and it wasn't one, but several. But you are right, I did run to the car. Where I proceeded to close the windows tightly and sit rocking back and forth whimpering to myself.

Oh the shame...

Fat Roland said...

Good post. Here, have a biscuit.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Thank you very much.

What type of biscuit?

Valerie said...

What cool first memories!

Mine are so much less exciting. I remember waking up in what felt like the middle of the night (probably 9 pm!) and going into the kitchen for water, and my mother giving it to me in a plastic cup with sparkles in the plastic. Those details (that particular kitchen and the sparkle cups, which we had when I was very small) allow me to know I was about 2 or 3. I remember walking on snow and the scary feeling when you pop through a thin frozen layer into the powder underneath, and it goes up to your thigh.

Hmm, that might be it for very early memories... :-/

Valerie said...

Hey, I want some biscuits.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Thanks for those memories Valerie.

That snow feeling is a bit scary, but I also remember that it was rather exciting as well!

Here have some Hob Nobs:

Kevin Stilley said...

When I read your post I laughed because one of my earliest memories is fleeing in terror from a turkey. A turkey isn't quite as glamourous as a monkey, but I was in Missouri not Malaysia.

9/10ths Full of Penguins said...

Welcome Kevin,

Thanks for your memory, turkeys are nasty buggers. I feel your terror!

I appear to have had bad luck with wildlife in my younger years as I also have early memories of being threatened by a goose in a park in London.