PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 12:00am

From the South China Morning Post this week in 1953

'You're my last hope,' wrote the itchy correspondent in a letter to the editor. 'I have lived north of Hong Kong for 40 years and never been tickled by prickly heat.'

But after just five weeks in the colony the writer said he or she was 'covered from head to foot'. Chemists had suggested everything from paint to powder but the itch persisted.

'I have been given endless medical advice,' said the desperate writer. 'Meanwhile, where can I buy, beg or filch two bottles of 3J vodka?'

Now that the British euphoria over the successful conquest of Mount Everest had died down, controversy raged over exactly whose foot touched the summit first.

Initially Sherpa 'Tiger' Tenzing Norgay said on Nepal radio that he and Auckland beekeeper Edmund Hillary reached the top simultaneously. But then it emerged Tenzing had signed two separate public statements, one saying he got there first, the other conceding the honour to Hillary.

Nepal's King Tribhuvan even-handedly summoned both to his palace in Kathmandu and bestowed the honour of Mighty Right Arm of the Gurkhas, First Class, on Tenzing, and Nepal Star, First Class, on Hillary.

Fishing was a topic upsetting writers of letters to the editor. Fishing 'of the most despicable method' was going on between Stonecutter's Island and Shamshuipo/Yau Ma Tei every evening between 5pm and dusk apparently.

'An army of sampans can be seen using explosive depth charges to rake in thousands of stunned fish,' the correspondent wrote. He had summoned the water police who had arrived, circled the offending sampans, arrested no one and sailed off again. Perhaps this form of fishing was after all legal, he wondered, but if not, couldn't something be done about it? 'At least give the fish a chance.'

Another correspondent moaned that commercial vessels were selfishly sneaking in between Star ferries on Kowloon side and dropping passengers off, causing delays to incoming Star ferries. Why couldn't they be considerate like the naval boats that made sure to avoid obstructing other boats?

Three weeks had passed since the Coronation on June 2 and Queen Elizabeth was now in Scotland, giving her handshaking arm a rest. Even so, she continued to pop up in the news columns. Her pet name was revealed when her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, rode up to her while playing polo and tossed her his sunglasses. 'Catch these Betty,' he said.

Back in Hong Kong, there were calls for a grand piano worthy of master musicians to be purchased. 'Disaster, No Grand Piano', went the headline. Solomon, the 'world famous pianist', and Louis Kentner were coming soon to perform but Hong Kong had no full-sized concert-grade piano to offer them.

'Why not buy ourselves a Coronation grand?' suggested one public-spirited reader.

The mother of quintuplet newborn girls in China, a Chekiang peasant's wife, must have been wondering how to feed so many mouths. But Liu Sau Lieu need not have worried, for the Chinese People's Provincial Government came to the rescue. It awarded her family 500 catties of special-grade rice and promised to take care of the infants.



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