The sudden proliferation of buskers in Central and on the waterfront should be welcomed.
There are few experiences more pleasing than walking the streets of the world's most beautiful cities and hearing concert violinists on their day off, gifted music students practising for their next exam or that talented folk guitarist waiting for her big break.
In Hong Kong, though, it's a rather different experience.
First, let me say, there are a few isolated pockets of modest ability: an energetic man with a didgeridoo attracts quite a crowd near World-Wide House; some semi-melodic Peruvian pan pipers have taken up residence near the General Post Office in Central; and an old Chinese two-stringed fiddle player performs on the Star Ferry concourse.
On the whole, though, most of our buskers are an embarrassment. A quality-control crackdown is well overdue.
Few people would deny those in dire straits the right to beg, but this need not extend into awful, never-ending karaoke. Cantonese country & western is not a musical genre that should ever be given a public airing. Gap-year guitarists with dreadlocks and a trust fund torturing any of Bob Dylan's back catalogue should be fined on the spot. Most of all, those discordant Sunday-school types strumming guitars and smiling inanely should be legally confined to the privacy of their places of worship.
One solution would be an X Factor-like public auditioning process. Local celebrities and government bureaucrats could mercilessly humiliate our less talented potential buskers for our amusement. Winners, selected by viewers, could then be allocated a permit for the best pitches in the city, and harmony would be restored.