I'm writing this in a restaurant in Quarry Bay. If I move my eyes, even one of them, slightly up from the computer screen, I will be able to see three other, much larger screens - televisions hanging on the walls.

TVs have become an entrenched feature of restaurants and bars in Hong Kong. God forbid you should have to go to any establishment and not look at a moving picture, and instead focus on your dining partners. That's just a fact of life.

A few years ago there was a big fuss about TVs on buses - many people claimed, not unrea-sonably, that they wanted to be left at peace while travelling so they could read or gaze out the window without being bombarded with adverts and news screeched out at an unbearable volume.

During the past year or so, however, a new affront to a moment of silence with one's own thoughts has emerged. Every taxi on Hong Kong Island (the ones I've been in anyway) is now equipped with screens on the back of the seat next to the driver.

The drivers are apologetic, of course: "It can't be helped, the taxi owner had it installed. You can turn off the sound."

So what? The thing is 10cm away from my face. Even if I turn off the sound, my eyes are still drawn to the hectic mish-mash of inane programmes and adverts. They know you can't avoid looking at them. Why else would they put them there?

I wouldn't complain if taxis were free. But as fares keep rising, I think I should be spared this intense irritation. And, of course, the same goes for buses, trains - and restaurants, too.