Happy snapper lets spirits take control

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 31 May, 1999, 12:00am

As a member of the journalistic profession, Lai See was happy to learn that world famous photographer Hugh van Es is still alive and well and blowing up buildings in the SAR.

The Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC), to be exact.

Last week found the street around the Ice House Street landmark cordoned off.

Seems there was a bit of a fireball in the sauna.

The former Vietnam War photographer had retired there with a bottle of good whisky.

Mr van Es, in case you didn't know, was the man who captured the disturbing image of a naked young girl fleeing a napalm attack.

Sitting in the sauna with his whisky, Mr van Es thought how fine it would be if the very vapours he breathed bore the scent of his fine malt.

Perhaps if he just splashed a bit on to the firey coals . . .

Amazingly, the 57-year-old escaped the ensuing flames unscathed.

Not so the sauna and gym.

'They won't re-open until some time next month,' said an FCC staffer.

'The facility is ruined and all the wood needs to be renewed.' No word on whether anyone was on hand to capture the disturbing image of a naked middle aged man fleeing a whisky attack.

This weekend, Lai See made her first Virgin sacrifice.

She sacrificed her Friday night to Virgin Atlantic's 'Five Star Party'.

The great event was to be held in the amphitheatre of the Academy of Performing Arts. The airline's new route to Shanghai was the reason for the celebration.

But the wing-ding was cancelled 'due to weather', according to a sign propped in front of the amphitheatre.

Would-be revellers blinked at the announcement in surprise, before staring out at the still, rainless night.

Not the best omen when an airline cancels because it's frightened of a few clouds.

Or perhaps this was just another chapter in Virgin's 'Irritate Hong Kong' campaign.

This seems to have begun on Thursday, when the airline ran a full page ad showing a plane in flight and offering readers 'a free ride'.

'No strings, no mileage deductions, no check-in, no reservations' said the text. Details to be made public the next day.

Friday found excited would-be travellers scanning the pages for news of their free flight.

Instead, they discovered the 'free trip' was worth exactly $2, and marked the perversion of one of Hong Kong's best loved historical monuments.

Virgin had transformed one of our beautiful Star Ferries into a red monstrosity.

Free flight-seekers were taunted by a picture of the vessel accompanied by an offer to: 'Let Virgin Atlantic take you for a ride.' Sounds like it already has.

We see Virgin Media Group is advertising for a corporate development executive.

They ran an ad for the position in the Financial Times on Friday.

The successful candidate should have first class intellectual and interpersonal skills, experience, an MBA and 'a good sense of humour'.

Judging by the ad, the new executive will certainly need this last quality.

The rewards for the job were cited under the heading: 'Unattractive package.' Good to discover a little truth in advertising.

Lai See must confess to having provided some Post-dated information.

Last week, we cited Lan Kwai Fong's Post 97 restaurant as one of the last hold-outs against so-called 'service charge'.

But we've just learned that our hold-out sold out just weeks before.

Restaurant boss Christian Rhombes said the eatery had decided to join the ranks of duplicitous pricers because 'we felt the market was particularly price sensitive'.

Slapping 10 per cent on to the bill has allowed Post 97 to lower menu prices, thus creating the illusion of a better deal.

To make up for her oversight, Lai See has ferreted out a couple of establishments that have gone the other way: Wan Chai's The Devil's Advocate and the New Maharani have both opted to axe the charge.

Still, this news comes too late for the untold thousands who flooded Post 97 in blind adherence to Lai See's suggestion.

Sorry about that.

If we have anything further to say about that particular restaurant, we'll be sure to check that nothing's changed.

Lai See feels good about this pledge.

She's usually lying when she promises there will be a check in the Post.