At last, we can go into genuine 1997 denial!

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 25 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 January, 1997, 12:00am

Uh-oh. Better adjust your handover plans. If English-originated laws are scrapped, we lose the right to follow the Gregorian calendar, legal minds have reported. This means the first day after the handover will not be July 1. We will lose 11 days, and the date will be June 19.

We also will be a British Crown Colony again, because the Basic Law says that we remain that way until our calendar says July 1.

When July 1 actually arrives for the second time, the new post-handover calendar will snap into place again, as will the requirement to lose 11 days, and the whole process will repeat again.

And again. And again. For ever. Yes. Groundhog Day. Tomorrow never comes.

When the Gregorian calendar originally was adopted in Britain in 1752, there was rioting by people who believed their lives had been shortened by 11 days.

But we in Hong Kong will become trapped in a time continuum, and will stay young and fresh for ever, rather like RTHK's Cheung Man-yee.

To let mundane reality intrude for a moment, I suspect that the calendar part of the law will be retained, under an ancient legal technique called Scrappus the Bitus We Don't Likeum Et Keepus the Bitus We Do Likeum.

Incidentally, all this reminds me of the greatest gadget that Sony Corp of Japan ever made - an item which I believe has now been discontinued, as I can no longer find it in Hong Kong shops.

It was a pocket tape recorder, available seven or eight years ago, which enabled you to go back in time.

When you pressed the 'record' button, it would start taping all sounds in the vicinity of its microphone, from precisely 16 seconds before you pressed the button.

I don't know how it worked (and don't really want to know), but it was the perfect tool for reporting boring annual general meetings or the proceedings at Legco.

Such meetings often go on for hours, and are far too tedious to record in their entirety.

Using my trusty time-travelling tape recorder, I would sit there, half asleep on the press bench, while Important People droned on.

Every half hour or so, someone would utter a sentence so stunning in its crassness, brilliance, outrageousness, banality or illegality, that I would suddenly sit up bolt upright and press the record button.

All my rivals would do the same, and end up with the following (invariably dull) sentence only.

But only I would get the actual shocking utterance captured on tape.

If someone from Sony Corp sees this, please ask boss Akito Morita to re-issue the 16-seconds-back-in-time tape recorder.

And while you are at it, could you kindly use the same silicon chip on a few other devices? Cameras and video recorders would be obvious beneficiaries of the technology.

Every time the sleeping cat falls off the television or your grandmother's trousers fall down, one can press the record button and one's Handycam will nip back a few seconds in time and record the whole thing.

This gadget will enable me to completely dominate America's Funniest Home Videos indefinitely.

But, most of all, dear Mr Morita, I would like you to install a similar chip in my head, with a two-way toggle switch.

That way, I can live my entire life with my brain set to jump forwards or backwards 16 seconds.

This will allow me to take part in television interviews and coolly answer the question following the one that has actually been asked.

Q: Good morning.

A: Yes.

Q: Nice day, isn't it? A: The Spice Trader.

Q: How do you like to be referred to? A: Pathetic muckraker.

Q: What's the worst thing you've ever been called? A: An honest, upstanding citizen.

Q: And how do you see yourself? A: A complete disaster, to be straight with you.

Q: What future do you envisage in the near future for politics in Hong Kong? A: A lot of drinking, dancing, dressing up in silly clothes made from flags.

Q: And how will people spend the handover night itself? A: Sleeping under my desk.

Q: And yourself? What have you got planned for that night? A: A really strange woman.

Q: What do you think about Rita Fan as president of the Provisional Legislature? A: I find that unpleasant fungal growths can be removed with a damp cloth and a strong antiseptic.

Q: I'm sorry, I've just noticed a spot of mildew on this microphone.

A: You're welcome.

Q: Thanks for being on the show.