Icons of our Age

NAME: The Girlie Gangs.

OR: Those bands of young women who hang out around town looking threatening ... that is threatening to giggle, stamp their feet or even chant, 'Leeeee-onnnnnn'.

AGE: Adolescent, though not in the conventional sense of the word. More on that later.

DISTINGUISHING MARKS: Mickey Mouse clothing, cute rucksacks (preferably in the shape of cuddly toys), anything featuring Garfield. Footwear is important when it comes to achieving that trademark stamp and toss of the head. most opt for a pair of deck shoes, but more up-to-date Girlie Gang members favour Dr Martens.

BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS: These gals are team players, they always provide covering fire for one another by going to the loo together; a joke is greeted by a chorus of stifled giggles as each Gang Chick puts one or both hands over her mouth and any unfortunate small dogs that happen to pass by find themselves engulfed by sighing would-be owners.

Your regular Hong Kong Gang Gal is ready for anything: oddity, perversion or independence - anything that breaks the Canto mould - is met with an instant and dismissive cry of 'chi sin' (crazy). Should there be the slightest sign of trouble, the Girlie Gang member whips out a packet of Tempo paper tissues with all the venom of an LA Homegirl going for her switchblade.

NATURAL HABITAT: On the back of any Outlying Island ferry where they treat the outing like a once-in-a-lifetime trip to the moon; country parks; Broadcast Drive or the driveway at TV City in Clearwater Bay where they spend hours hoping to catch a glimpse of their Canto idol as he or she rocks up for an appearance at TVB Jade. Not forgetting, of course, their temple: the Hong Kong Coliseum. The Gangs make regular visits to the spiritual home of the religion known as Canto-pop. Once there, they sit primly until a rush of blood takes them and they blow a whistle or yell 'Aaron!' in unison. Truly liberated Gang Gals have been known to make a rush for the stage armed with a bouquet of flowers.

RELATIONSHIPS: Very tricky this. Although our Gals do have boyfriends, they are obviously not the kind of Hong Kong 'boyfriends' who persuade their sweethearts to go on the game, or urge them to pay ill-advised visits to stone huts in the country with half a dozen tattooed chums. Instead, our Gal finds herself someone she can really boss about.

Poor old Ah Wimp would much rather be shooting hoops with his mates or lusting over the babes on TV Game centre mahjong machines but instead he finds himself on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront/Lantau/MTR alternately taking snapshots of his girl or being pummelled by her as she shouts 'Lay ho sui-ahh' ('You're so horrible/bad to me'). They invariably keep poor Ah Wimp on a leash for so long that he eventually gives up on life, hands over his savings and gets married.