Icons of our time

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 October, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 October, 1995, 12:00am

NAME: Edna Outlet.

OR: The expat housewife with an eye for a factory-outlet bargain.

AGE: 'Well, honestly, it's just not the sort of thing you talk about, is it? Mind you, the Chinese seem to do it all the time. Only yesterday, that little man, the driver, who's always hanging around the lobby downstairs, pointed at me, rolled his eyes and said, 'not too muchy shoppy missy - you very old now'. Cheeky beggar. I could have boxed his ears for him. But they're like that you know.' NATIONALITY: Colonial.

ADDRESS: Mid-Levels. A company flat decorated in a schizophrenic blend of rattan and velvet with a Tai Ping carpet that no one's supposed to tread on.

OCCUPATION: Full-time bargain hunter. If there's a clay duck to be had for half the price they charge in those Central nick-nack shops, she'll find it. If you're after a china chopstick holder in the shape of a cowering coolie, she'll track one down on the eighth floor of a grimy industrial building in Lai Chi Kok. When she's not leading expeditions of white womanhood into the concrete jungle of Wong Tai Sin, she can be found roaming Central's ladder streets in search of that elusive button to replace the one that popped off husband Alan's suit jacket after his eighth pint in the Bull And Bear last night.

UNIFORM: When she's foraging she likes to wear something loose and inexpensive she found on a hawker's stall in Sham Shui Po. For formal occasions she slips into a Laura Ashley/Diane Fries copy that her nice little tailor ran off for a quarter of the price of an original.

CAR: Japanese, about 14 years old, nothing fancy, mind you, but perfectly adequate for getting around town. And anyway, you never know when someone's going to drive into you or give you a new dent in the car park.

FINANCIAL SITUATION: Ah, now you're talking. Because she's living in Hong Kong but not working, she's faced with a dilemma: although there's nothing else to do here but shop or sit around drinking and bitching, she can't afford to do it the way the tai-tais do. After all, Alan isn't made of money, you know. So she gets around that problem by taking the bargain hunter approach.

READING MATERIAL: Dollarsaver, The Hong Kong Street Map, books by other expat housewives who have turned their passion for bargain hunting into a business.

EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES: Phoning Ralph Pixton, doing the crossword, arguing with the amah, vowing to get stuck into that Thai cookbook, writing letters in which she says how busy she is with the holiday coming up and having to get the car in for a service ...