Shaw taken with a pinch of salt

''HONG Kong is a damnable place!'' George Bernard Shaw told reporters when he visited the colony in 1933. When asked about the Great Wall of China he replied, ''We have a much nicer wall between England and Scotland. What is a Great Wall for? ''I don't like travel.'' he added. ''Nobody likes travelling except foolish people. But women like travelling.'' He advised the students at Hong Kong University to become communists: ''If you are a revolutionary at the age of 20, you have some chance of being up-to-date when you are 40.'' His lecture outraged the Hong Kong Telegraph: ''When Bernard Shaw tells young students to steep themselves in revolutionary books and go up to their necks in communism and everything of that kind, we must presume that he means precisely what he says.

''The street orator who used language like that would in all probability be clapped into gaol for his indiscretion.'' However a letter published in the South China Morning Post took a more sensible view: ''Few people in Great Britain take Shaw's social and political views seriously and it is unfortunate that any of the British in Hong Kong should have done so.

''It is difficult to understand how anyone with a sense of humour could take Shaw seriously; and those without a sense of humour should have little count in our community.'' However things were different in Shaw's native Ireland.

On the same page it was reported that the County Wexford Bee-Keepers' Association, of which GBS was a life member, had just passed a resolution: ''That the name of Mr George Bernard Shaw be removed from the list of members of the Association in consequence of Mr Shaw's recent book, Adventures of a Black Girl in Search of God.

''Put an Irishman on the spit,'' Shaw once wrote, ''and you can always get another Irishman to turn him.''