Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Diva Noddle Reflects

When I was at school many moons ago, I remember “Bogey” Watson, my Divinity teacher, telling us how three groups of very influential people – the movers and shakers of their day, if you like – the ancient Greeks, the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christian teachers of the Middle Ages – told us not to lend money at interest.

I remember sitting there in my short trousers and thinking, “No wonder all those chaps met such sticky ends!” After all, what’s the use of writing all those plays about incest and having a democracy in which every man is made to turn up for debates where a chap with pebbles in his mouth speaks for half the morning, or wandering about in the desert being told you can’t eat seafood, or writing hefty tomes called Summa Theologiae, when lending money at interest – or investment, as I prefer to call it – is the basis of all our modern prosperity.

Now, of course I’m not saying that all lending money at interest is a good thing. For example, I wouldn’t recommend you just went up to a fellow in Queen’s Road Central, even if he looked like a decent sort and spoke in a soft Highland burr, and asked for a loan. After all, he might work for Standard Chartered Bank!

You see, if you want a man (or a woman – I don’t want those long-haired yobbos who’ve turned the lovely open space under the HSBC building into a horrid mess calling me sexist when I have the greatest respect for the marvellous secretarial work done by the fairer sex) to help you turn your business vision into reality, you need people who are truly committed to Hong Kong, people who are willing to put a little bit back into the local community by sponsoring the rugby sevens.       

Life is like a scrummage, you see. If we’re not all pushing in the same direction, sooner or later we’re going to concede a penalty try – whether you like it or not. Whingeing and moaning, ignoring personal hygiene and setting up your tent in Central is not going to help you one jot. Just look at what happened to Ireland the other day against England at Twickenham. And I say that as a fellow Celt, who likes nothing better that to see the Auld Enemy getting “rolled over”, as we used to say at Number 1 Queen’s Road when another competitor was driven off the level playing field that is Hong Kong.

So, let’s learn the lessons of the past, dust ourselves off, move on and not meddle with the institutions that have served us so well for nearly 150 years. Imagine, if you would, people in the next millennium looking back across history. Do you really think they are going to be talking about what those old Greeks and Jews achieved when that is set against the service we bankers have rendered humanity?

Show me a Chinaman who started a dai pai dong after reading Plato or the Psalms and I’ll eat my hat!   

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