Thursday, 31 March 2011

I can only howl at fate and cry Why?

Horse racing? I just don't get it. So I've used all my keen intelligence to avoid this place. Anticipating the signs, I've looked straight ahead, and breathed quietly. I've driven by ten thousand times, in both directions, and never said a word to Tiger. Once passed safely by, in my head I've punched the air and thought, today I got away with it.

But I know I'm on borrowed time. It has to happen. It's like meeting a fate you know is there. I will have to give in. Fate will come at me, armed with all the powers of the universe, while I try and fight it back with a piece of string I stole from Squirrel's handbag.

And now it took a step closer. Months ago, Tiger, always gripped by horse love, saw the signs. She asked. I looked out the window and pretended to be deaf. She in turn ignored me, and stared at every passing moment to this sister museum, while I counted my breaths, and she insisted, Mummy, I said I want to go there. Eventually, I made up reasons why not, but I knew they would never be enough.

Today, I had to yield. I can't fight fate with a bottle top and biro, and so here we are. I am bewildered, unknowing, made speechless. The Hong Kong Racing Museum.

I have no words. Only photographs. And a knowledge that is perfectly formed. Shortly you will find me in Newmarket.

You see? I can explain nothing. But here is a picture of turf.
Tiger tells me it matters, if you are a horse.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Drop a dress size with these simple phrases!

Consider this change! Grit arrived in Hong Kong last year, firmly middle-rolled and plump bummed. But those comfort handles are gone! How was this done?

Try grit's no-effort diet!

All you have to do is repeat these obsessions, phobias, fears, general anxieties and depressive statements each day, and a shrunk arse can be yours within the month!

1. We are not going to the supermarket. They are trying to steal my handbag.

But this is true. Present any checkout in Hong Kong with one baguette and a pot of kid's jam and you feel as if your life savings have been mugged by Bernard Madoff. The up-market Waitrose-lookalike, for example, City Super. Charging $278 for six strawberries?! And how much are they asking for a pot of jam? HOW MUCH? Right. That does it. Take my advice, hold onto your handbag and refuse to buy any food ever again. (Lose 7lb immediately!)

2. Where are all the cows?

Grit is not a farm girl. But even she has to wonder where those eggs and dairies come from. Not Hong Kong, that's for sure. Chickens are banned and you can't stick a cow on a mountain. There is only one answer. Mainland China. I'm betting animals living there are skipping joyfully in pampered, free-range luxury. Shudder and go vegan. (Lose another half stone, although moral righteousness weighs quite a bit, so put back on 5lb.)

3. I cannot eat that. It is pewk.

Say this every morning while staring at yellow mush called bread! Over here in land of noodle, you can take one mouthful of this vile crap, spit it out over the unfortunate Shark and declare all bread in Hong Kong disgustingvilepewk ughughugh noteatingthat everagain EVER EVER EVER. (Fussy eating loses 4lb instantly!)

4. China is trying to poison me.

Yes, they bloody well are. E-numbers, pesticides, chemicals, everything. Any nation that sprinkles melamine onto its baby food and dumps corn syrup and antibiotics in its honey needs watching, let's face it. The Grit response is to prowl the foodstuffs twitching and staring, scrutinising every label and every potato nobble and then refusing to eat any of it. (See? 5lb straight off!)

5. I'm sorry. Only hand-made, artisan sorbets can touch my lips now.

Hong Kong, the land of Cartier and Choo, has its benefits. Join the cult of artisan sorbet worship! Refuse to eat anything else all day long, then gorge your superior, upmarket taste buds with sensation perfection. While hanging out for the strawberry and basil decoction from I Scream you are sure to stop cramming your face with processed sugar-laden lardy junk! (But add 4lb thanks to three visits a week.)

6. Shut up. We are bloody well walking.

The perfect weight loss statement! Too poor from the ice cream and too mean to pay the taxi fares, you must walk everywhere including all Hong Kong serious hills, for hours. Has an educational benefit as you can justify petty meanness by claiming the kids need the exercise! (No weight loss but very firm thighs.)

7. Er, is there anywhere to buy food?

Live on an outlying island with two veg shops, an assortment of dried fish skin outlets, a butchery and an old man who sits by the concrete path selling beetroot. By the end of an hour you've exhausted the main street and emerged with something that you hope is a handful of dried noodles and not a nouveau pan scrubber. (Lose the will to live.)

8. Oh no, we have to pass the Hong Kong seafood restaurants.

Yes, one glance to those tanks is almost guaranteed to have you vowing that you'll never eat again. You can pick your live food item - the crayfish clawing its way out the tank in despair, the sad crab sitting there in a death sentence with a bamboo ribbon tied round its claws, or the half-dead fish with no space to twitch a tail - and your hunger can shrivel to nothing. Say, things have got better though! Under the British I couldn't tell the difference between the pet shop and the steakhouse! (Lose 4lb but head back to the sorbet counter to comfort eat.)

9. I don't want anything to eat. I am depressed.

This is a great line! Gets you out of all cooking, shopping, food preparation, every meal, daily! Keep it up for several weeks! Shark, who can run the family without anyone, can take your purse and scavenge lunch at Mrs Chang the Cake Lady. Apparently she makes excellent coconut buns, not that you can eat them because they might have been near a condemned cow. Anyway, you're far too busy lying foetal in bed and crying, self piteously, at all ordinary life traumas, so have no appetite at all till next Wednesday! (Weight loss? Who cares when everything is pointless anyway?!)

10. Now, all you ladies (and gentlemen) looking to drop a dress size, you too can follow grit's fantastic diet by chanting this simple phrase!

Be mean, be sad, be phobic!

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

What? You mean it's already 2010?

There's no logic to this, absolutely none, but I have to finish what I started over there.

(Resolution made with fingers crossed behind back: I shall complete this steadily and slowly over the next couple of weeks!)

But shut up about the date thing. I know I am updating last year. Lalala not listening. I have an issue with time. It works outside of me and we rarely meet in the middle.

And the completeness of a single year in pictures with smug arsed caption is probably about my psychology, so shut up about that as well. It's just some weird thing I need to do to make the year complete, then I can leave it. Better I need to do that, than creepy things in parks late at night with chickens, so just be grateful.

Worse, the other day I peeked at the stats, and felt awful guilty. People still go there. They still join it and find stuff! It's sort of embarrassing. What is it that you need? Motivational home ed statements? Surely no-one's going to tell me they ever doubt this choice of educational bliss!

Then I said to Ditta that I'd finish it, so that's as good as a promise. I even borrowed her cards to remind me why I should bother. No you can't borrow them. Go and buy your own.

The only other thing I want to say about it all, is don't take me as any proclaimer, ambassador, follower, leader, spokesperson, or much of a competent person on anyone's side, group, or camp. I make my own decisions. I answer to me and the kids (and to Dig, for how I'm burning his money). If the site is in any way supportive for you, then I'm simply glad.

And you're welcome.

Monday, 28 March 2011

How one thing can lead to another

The Survivors is a place to start for an average educating day, is it not? Tiger's had a strange sniffle and I say let's run for the hills.

We follow a delightful path through our post-apocalyptic world while Tiger whines a pathetic weedy noise showing her pampered background, like why can't there be trains and people serving hot chocolate and ice cream etc. etc. So I enjoy the time by making her answer questions about how she could survive and build a community from scratch when no-one has railway tracks or servants.

We pass through a deserted village where I am sure the mysterious disease has already swept the population away.

But we pick up Ditta and The Pitcher and find some very satisfying steps.

To reach them we must enter what looks like someone's yard, where Tiger keeps whispering Are we allowed? Are we allowed? in a fretful tone which suggests she is not getting this idea of building a revolutionary community from scratch at all, but that she has spent her short life being oppressed, under constant surveillance, and urged not to do anything interesting, illegal, or in pursuit of anarcho-syndicalist government.

Incidentally, listening to Are we allowed? Are we allowed? is extremely irritating and I can definitely say that the oft-repeated idea that 'children reflect how they are treated' is sodding well not true.

However, I try and bring her round by telling her how we merely have to break through a few social barriers if we are to live in a commune with some smelly hippies and goats in a post-pandemic world where WI-type fetes and skill-swap groups might be the only means of survival.

Then we cross over these planks of wood because we are very brave and it's the only route to the beach, for which we have now walked six miles.

Once we arrive at the beach I say Right! That's it! End of the Survivors and political theories routine! I'm staying here and chatting to Ditta while you play your own survival mini saga over there.

I think I've given them enough to go on. Secretly I wish there was a Starbucks, because someone serving me with a coffee and a slice of chocolate cake would be very welcome after that trek.

Unfortunately, after an hour or so, the cast of the Survivors come to get me and Ditta off the rocks where we are perched, because the offspring are very proud to have built a sort of functioning community, which is indeed over there.

Over there involves climbing the perilous sea edge where Grit is going to fall and be bashed about the rocks horribly, and her broken body will be dead dead dead, and that is not a price I want to pay to reenact a dodgy 1970s drama filmed in Wales thank you very much, so I say Stuff the commune. I'm not going.

Shark says Being old is no excuse not to join in the great enterprise, then she fetches Squirrel who makes me come over the rocks by threatening to take pictures of my bottom and putting them on the Internet.

Here is Squirrel, swinging her fish bag.

Yet, I soften a little. I say it is quite a good bay all things considered. The rocks are very pretty and there are pink shells! Very pink! Very lovely. I covertly pour hundreds of them into my handbag because I'm nicking them from mother earth and putting them in my private collection on the kitchen work surface where I can look at them admiringly.

The survivors then demonstrate interesting accomplishments of the sort you can do in a new construction rising from a bleak and damaged world, like skip over rocks, make tools to haul boats out of sea ponds, and build a boat from beachwash, called Floating Wreck II. (Apparently, Floating Wreck I sank.)

So the whole day was spent on political theory, environmentalism, discussions of a 1970s TV series, rock climbing, design and technology, plus another six-mile trek home.

I maintain it was extremely achievement-filled, despite the runny nose and the absence of Starbucks. Indeed, when we arrive home, we watch this. Gratifyingly, everyone laughs. Then I say, That reminds me of some home ed groups. And we start the whole discussion over again.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Probably back to normal

A geological time period of a day in which many small things happen, but very slowly, and with no visible reward. As in the following:

I did three hours typesetting work, then lost it all thanks to inexplicable forces taking up residence in my monitor. Result: zero.

Shark went to the beach brandishing pencils, papers and rulers to 'measure waves'. I remained behind, rapt in wonder, sure she had made a great leap forward in her mathematical brain functioning; I assumed she really had been swotting up hard in her bedroom late at night, and not, as it merely appeared, playing endless Dad's Army DVDs. She was back two hours later. I asked how measuring waves had gone, to which she answered, 'I couldn't do it. The water kept moving'. Result: zero.

Squirrel spent the day flat across an armchair reading fairy trash despite being reminded several times that there are hundreds of authors out there worth reading, many of whom would give her a lollipop if she increased their library circulation and, what's more, I would buy her an ice cream. Result: zero.

Tiger instigated a game called Unicorns Fighting to the Death, involving a household broom, a stick and a lot of running about on the roof making a noise that sounded like gagagahhh. I said it was a bad idea. Result: one broken broom. (Less than zero.)

But it has not all been ordinary family misery of a normal Sunday variety. There are always bright moments to cheer us on our ways to the dark, dark night, falling coffin black about our ears.

Dig has been off again, flying about the planet, burning your oxygen and destroying your forests. But we can all feel good because Royal Jordanian Airlines forgot to give him his dinner. Apparently there were only six of them in the cabin, so it was doubly unforgivable. After being prompted, the stewardess brought him a menu card and told him they didn't have much left now because the five other passengers had already eaten what was on it. Result: satisfying.

I looked out from the top floor of the house to see the loose wandering dog (who I think belongs to the neighbours) just about to deposit his innards on our scrubby bit of soil left by the Abandoned Women Therapy Group (see yesterday). I quickly filled Squirrel's water pistol and let him have it, just above the tail. The dog jumped up and shot off in horror. He was clearly far too stupid to look up and clock me. Thus I both gave him the hebejebes and I got away with it, scot free. Result: Warm feeling of oneupmanship and superiority over a dog.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Neither can I hear any dogs, barking in the night

All week long in the early morning we have been roused from our beds by the sound of cackling laughter, accompanied by the scraping of shovels on rocky earth.

When we have plucked up courage to peer out of the window, we have watched four or five middle-aged ladies in coolie hats and aprons wielding pickaxes in the land right next to our house.

No-one liked to say anything, but we all observed what was there. That the holes dug so neatly were perfectly shallow and grave shaped. But strange, each night, the ladies filled them in again and quickly left the scene.

Each day this odd business has been repeated, broken only by Wednesday, when a man in a yellow anorak came and looked between the graves and a clipboard.

We have all been too wary to ask what exactly is going on. Dig has suggested that they are examining the ground before building a new house. Tiger says the graves are for us and we are all going to die. I say nonsense! Nonsense to both of you. It is much more likely that here is the Abandoned Women Therapy Group out on a weekly exercise where they dig graves for their absent and undevoted husbands, bury their memories, then shovel in the soil again while laughing hysterically, and my guess is, they will undoubtedly feel much better.

However, I am not totally convinced by my explanation. All is not right, and strange things are happening. Like this photo I find on my camera.

I have no recollection of taking this photo, I have no knowledge of these people, and I can only deduce that someone has broken into the house, and put this picture on my phone as evidence in some dastardly deed about to be committed upon us.

I might just double lock the door in case Tiger is right after all.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Walk beyond Central

Walk towards Hollywood Road from Central, up the hill through the side streets and the narrow passageways, and you're in an area of Hong Kong that I love.

Noisy, crowded, street markets busy with people trading, sitting, talking. The produce spreads out wide along the pavements, piling up to the blue and white striped plastic canopies, lit by the swinging red lamps, sending us passers by spilling into the roads. I buy perfectly ripe purple plums, half a dozen at a great price, and leave the pineapples, strawberries, apples and grapes, regretfully. If only I had stronger arms to carry home bags bulging with fruit. When I walked through the door with the market stall best bursting from my shopping bags, Tiger would clap her hands and laugh in perfect joy.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Fantastic fantasy

Thank goodness for Momix. This physical dance-theatre was solely needed to energise my spirits. Birds, flowers, fish, humans, defying physical laws and exploring illusions and dreamscapes. Sensual, erotic, boundary breaking, beautiful. See. Sigh.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The good point? I wasn't charged an entrance fee

Don't go to the Correctional Services Museum in Hong Kong. Take my word for it, just don't go.

I'm submitting it to a list of pointless museums around the world, which is saying something, because normally I'm there, pathetically pleading their defence. Really, there's always something of value! Even your local-local museum, open one half-hour a week when Doreen is resurrected from the dead and propped up against the souvenir counter.

Such is my devotion, I have sought out your crap museum, the one that has fought off lack of interest from all the world, and given it a damn good recommendation.

On my soap box now, for go, you must, to one of my treasured finds, the Iceni Museum in Norfolk. Here (unless they've finally got rid of them), you can stare speechless and puzzled at the Top Shop dummies dressed in tartan. Maybe they are leftover Bay City Roller fans cooking something up over a cauldron, who knows?

But go, because here is Demonstration of England. It captures the spirit of let's do our best... oh well never mind in the face of hopeless, crushing failure and brutal reality; it is a world where a nice cup of tea is a sensible response to the horror, and the point at which you are grateful for an experience of crushing futility because at least it is something and better than a rope in the woods.

But here at the Correctional Services Museum you won't find anything culturally Chinese charming. Not at all, unless it is the gallows or the pictures of the beheaded. It is simply a two-storey public information exercise for the local schools to tour and the careers teacher to ask whether anyone would now like to consider a job locking up crims.

For us hapless tourists, the main point of this prison museum is merely to remind us just what thugs are the Vietnamese. Look! They make machetes from tables just because they are locked up in detention centres after escaping certain death in their homeland! How unfair is that?

Verdict? Crap crap crap and I wish we'd never bothered.

However, this is Grit. While I am an advocate for non-conventional education, I know there may be passers-by from conventional worlds interested in how education out of school is doing. Then for you my eduspeak is thus:

The museum provides a valuable contribution to discussions about citizenship, procedures of the legal system, and the history of punishment and rehabilitation in a specific local context such as Hong Kong. Further ideas can be raised here about security of national borders, migrant people and what is the point of a museum curator.*

Bits of prison wall. Shark says she could climb them.
The information panel tells us they have cut the wall into small chunks.
This defeats the object but it all now fits under the shed roof.

An average Vietnamese person.
(This is what they look like only if you lock them up.)

All made by the Vietnamese out of household furniture!

A George at Asda reject, regretting his evil ways.

Alternative pursuit: sit outside and binge drink E-numbers until the bus comes.

*Go on, say the obvious. If I had thought for one moment before we set out, what would I seriously expect from a museum curator employed by the prison service in Hong Kong, colony of China?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Turtles, mostly

Return to the ever fascinating Wong Tai Sin temple. Here are too many strange practices for me to understand or explain anything, so I offer photos of turtles from the garden of good wishes instead. I have about 200. Turtles, that is. I say only one wish in the garden, the one I keep harboured in my heart while my face pulls an expression of irritation, my mouth tuts, and the bit of my brain that hoards distant memory can replay the voice of my mother saying if wishes were horses, beggars would ride. So that's done, reality's checked, and here are the turtles.

By the way, this last one is Squirrel, asking the turtle if it approves of her drawing.
Don't say anything. You weren't there the night we had to leave out a pencil for the possum to complete the word search.

Monday, 21 March 2011

I'm old. Modesty has become a good idea.

There's stuff I'm not looking forward to in England. Like a stinking mouldy green cellar and a car repair bill. Stuff like that.

There's also stuff of culture I'm not looking forward to. Like, the way young women are portrayed on TV, in newspapers and ads, print to film, wall to ceiling.

Do I sound old? I am, too. I'm also surrounded by a different culture in Hong Kong, China. Sex, drugs, rock and roll - they're not really used to sell me shampoo. On the streets, around town, there are fewer images to model women against - I don't see routine images of half-naked girls, celebration of anorexic female skeletons, suggestive photographs of female body parts, or drug-chic photography. The Asians are more modest. Public rule-breaking is not a good idea. There are limits on how much flesh you should show.

The shopping malls are, of course, where you find this particular brand of western output. (Looking at these images dropped into a pool of Asia, should I be surprised that some people in this culture and across the sub-continent have the idea that Western women have loose morals and easy virtues?)

One ad, in particular, deserves a Gritty spray can. There's one enormous image that my daughters must pass on their route through the shopping mall. We cannot choose but to walk by a huge, dead-eyed woman, looking hanged by the neck, photographed for an enormous head and a tiny, flattened out body. She connotes spaced out, unalive, pre-pubescent doll. Worth it, apparently, to flog us a patterned frock.

Is it like this in England? I'll console myself. I'll tell myself that the stream of women you can see in the newspapers and scrolling as if for choice down my monitor - beachwear-dressed, falling out of nightclubs, half-clothed, drugged out, drunk - are part of a long tradition. Jordan is merely the televised version of the bawdy Gill postcard and I am the clapped out wife with a handbag and headscarf.

But it's not much consolation. I'm still worried. That in moving from Asian to Western, one of the things my daughters will see is the presentation of what it is to be female. Beachwear-dressed, falling out of nightclubs, half-clothed, drugged out, drunk; suggesting sex, the promise, before, after, because it can better sell an ice cream, a car, a shampoo. Are these images everywhere - bus stops, newspapers, magazines, film, TV? How can I choose not to see, and to have my daughters growing up without this representation of their kind?

Sunday, 20 March 2011

One day there will be fluffy bunnies everywhere too

Spent the day working, typesetting, and not doing a very good job of copyediting because I began to read those academic pages instead.

After I pressed send on one paper, I saw that I didn't correct the speech marks. Sorry about that. I'd like to think someone else will pick them up, but it's unlikely. The process has cut down on people who take time and trouble. It's not rewarded. Everyone wants fast output and minimum cost, so all down the line people can only glance, say okay, and press send. Whatever state your paper's in then, it goes to the printers and we can all tick the box and say next.

Anyway, I began reading this particular paper (sorry about the capitalisation as well) and I see that the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) will turn into the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Then I began to feel sorry for you academics. The RAE was a bit crap, like having to weigh your research to measure worthiness, but this one's even worse. I read how you social scientists now have to produce research which is all about 'Maximizing Impact' (and sorry about the s/z inconsistency).

That will totally mess up some of your research won't it? To get the funding in the first place you'll have to pretend that your three-year study into the language used round the office coffee machine is going to 'deliver' immediate benefit to society, government policy, the economy, and maybe bring about world peace as well. Of course it won't. It's just something interesting and people-worthy to do.

But I think that is how things should be. I like to think folks can spend their time footling on stuff that doesn't seem to be of any immediate benefit, value, or even practical purpose. I am raising children that way! I cannot imagine what economic, social or political benefit there is for Squirrel to stitch together 42 plastic bags (which is what she seems to be doing these days all over the front room). But she likes it, and something interesting might come of it yet.

So I wanted to say, sorry about the % per cent confusion and, when I am in charge of academic funding, be assured the system will change. You won't have to spend hours thinking up evidence that will prove how your work delivers maximum economic impact, when we all know studying how old folk talk to their pet budgies is something you wanted to do because you thought it would be interesting and maybe one day help people like your grandma. With the Grit-ESRC* bank, no problem. Have the money, and say hello to gran.

* Economic and Social Research Council. Sorry about that as well.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Nothing good

Globally, it's been a terrible time, hasn't it? Earthquakes, tsunamis. You could cry a thousand times for those. Open mouthed, we've watched the videos, held our breath, put our fingers to our eyes and hugged the children that little bit tighter.

Locally, it's been a horrible time too, what with the murder.

I can barely believe I use the words murder and Lamma Island in the same sentence. Believe me, these words are as far apart as you can get.

Lamma and crime? I've seen that. I've seen expat kids, four in the afternoon, pelt across the fresh dug field. The old Chinese farmer screamed at them in blasphemy Cantonese. Then I heard how someone rattled doors after dark on the other hill, sending shivers down the valley. And there was the oven. Someone unloaded an oven from the boat; the next thing, it wasn't there. Signs went up. Have you see this oven?

The talk between the expats is just the same. I found a timid dog. Yesterday a strange man knocked at the door. I lost my earphones on the ferry last Thursday. Anyone pick them up?

So here we are in Lamma Island and an elderly English lady is murdered. No, it isn't from a TV drama. She's visiting family, just like our travelling aunty visited us too. Elderly spinster travelling ladies, touring outlying Hong Kong islands, enjoying the subtropics winter weather, walking the volcanic mountains, cuddling nieces on knees, rising early to read newspapers, making coffee, shopping for sweet treats in the village.

At first she's reported as missing. We listened to the helicopters circling the island. We imagined her stumbled and, with so many people climbing and combing the mountains, told ourselves she'd soon be found. But then we watched the search and rescue teams return to the village with folded stretchers strapped to their backs, boxes of equipment unused, medical aid still packed up, dogs pulling at their handlers to go home.

We agreed between ourselves that on these mountains, better not to walk alone. They're huge granite peaks, clothed with sharp scrub and tough waxed leaves, slipping tracks and falling stones. If you tumble into a hollow by the steepest paths to the furthest village, then it's possible not to be found while night comes on. You can watch Hong Kong Island's skyscraper lights twinkling over dusk, but there on the mountain you're sure to be unseen.

Then, two or three nights on, it rained, hard. Me and Dig looked at each other, said nothing to the children, but knew this story couldn't have a happy ending. There could have been an accident, but let's hope for an inexplicable amnesia, a falling out and a slammed door. She might return in a day or two, still glowering. But not a murder; not here on Lamma. We never thought of that as a possibility.

Over the weekend, events moved fast; police thronged our small town, she was found, the house roped off, the ferry stalled. We heard the story of her body wheeled through the main street, the wait at the pier, too public, too cruel, the drama of the arrest. All's changed.

We told the children that the village story didn't have a happy ending, that our own travelling aunty is fine, and she's calling them now, on the telephone. That remember to say you love her, and tell her, don't be silly, life is normal; no, of course we're alright. Our little island is very far away from Japan.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Rock porn

Rocks are very satisfying. Don't ask me why, they just are. We all have our wobbly knees and swoony bits. Some people like to dress up as a horse, and others fancy pigeons. Me, it's a matter of teeny tiny earth sparkles and crumbly layers of sediment. They bring me out in goosebumps.

Of course I have to pretend that fondling rock is educational. Otherwise I will never get away with this stuff. So I drag Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to the geopark at Sai Kung and intone in a teachery voice that now we are academic and note-takery geologists of all things rock and mineral.

See? It works! There are the children, examining mineral composition, sedimentary layers and basalt columns! Once they are busy, I can sneak off and give that rhyolite a damn good licking. Then I can take home trophy pictures for my secret rock porn album.

Ah! Aren't they beautiful!

Ahem. Now, please excuse me while I disappear to conjure with trachydacite lava and banded granite. A woman just has to give in to these things.