Coming Up For Air: A Very, Merry San Po Kong Christmas (December 2018)

Below is our December 2018, holiday edition of ‘Coming Up For Air’, a monthly column we write for Ming Pao’s English language section, reprinted here in its entirety with the permission of the folks at Ming Pao.

Coming Up For Air: A Very Merry, San Po Kong Christmas

by Albert Wan, Jenny Smith and Rachel Parnham
December 14, 2018

【明報專訊】What do the winter holidays mean to you? Last year at this time we were still getting things set up at our bookshop in San Po Kong. Rachel, our awesome shop manager, had just started working at Bleak House Books. We still had a lot of shelves to fill and books to price. And we had just hosted our first ever event complete with a plastic “Charlie Brown tree” from Ikea.

This year things are a bit different. Our shelves are now well-stocked with a carefully curated selection of new as well as used books. We have hosted our fair share of events from school field trips to poetry readings to book launches. And the dinky tree that we bought for last year’s inaugural event makes a return appearance, this time serving as both holiday decor and as the Bleak House Books “local interest” tree.

This year we also decided to have a little fun for the holidays. As bookshop employees we have ready access to a lot of literature written by a wide range of authors but we rarely get to write any of our own. So in what we hope will be the start of an annual holiday tradition, we are treating everyone to some home-made poetry and jingles, Bleak House Books-style!

Although each piece is penned by a different member of the Bleak House Books family, we decided not to attribute authorship to any of them. This is because the last time anyone here wrote a piece of fun, nonsensical prose, we were all a lot younger and there was, frankly, less on the line. Needless to say those days are long gone. Folks who want to know who wrote which poem will just have to engage in some guesswork. But we don’t think that will be too hard.

So without further ado we bring you A Very, Merry San Po Kong Christmas, a joint production of Bleak House Books and its three resident bookworms!

The 12 Days of Christmas (Hong Kong Edition)

On the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me|
A char siu way too salty

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two jade rings

And a char siu way too salty
On the third day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three hairy gourds,
Two jade rings,
And a char siu way too salty.

[By now we all know the lyrics and the song is, to be honest, a bit tedious so let’s pretend we’ve cycled through all the days and are now at day 12]

Twelve fish balls floating,
Eleven mooncakes moulding,
Ten ducks a-roasting,
Nine butchers chopping,
Eight eggs a-pickling,
Seven fish a-sunning,
Six screens a-glowing,
Five steaming baos,
Four suckling pigs,
Three hairy gourds,
Two jade rings,
And a char siu way too salty.

The Perfect Gift

The night before Christmas, lights were off at Bleak House
One creature was stirring and it was a mouse;
She scuttled through the stacks and the shelves
Half-empty, ransacked of books by the elves;
While the folk of Hong Kong were asleep catching zees
Sneaky elves placed book-shaped gifts ‘neath their trees.

Christmas at the Mall

In late November the displays appear
giant Snoopys, animatronic reindeer

peppermint, cranberry, eggnog, nut toffee
seasonal flavor shots enhance the coffee

Holiday jazz standards get piped in on a loop
Muzak more outmoded than shark fin soup

shoppers hunt crackers, tinsel & gingerbread
CFL lighting makes them look like the living dead

Vinyl cling candy canes are pressed on with care
Cheap plastic pine garlands are strewn everywhere

fake glittery snow dusts pine boughs of foam,
Santa’s toboggan is done up in chrome

Christmas at the mall is slightly off-kilter
but that can be fixed with an instagram filter

This ersatz winter wonderland is uncanny, unhealthy
But Christmas is coming so let’s take a selfie!

Available from Ming Pao via direct link here.

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