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Today's quote:

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Grande Dame of the Far East


They say the French do things in style, so when in late 1974 Compagnie Française des Pétroles - better known as TOTAL - flew me from Port Moresby to Rangoon, with stop-overs in Hong Kong and New Delhi, they'd booked me, in keeping with my high-sounding title of Chief Accountant, into The Peninsula in Kowloon.

There I was, in a pair of Aussie stubbies and t-shirt, being met at Chek Lap Kok Airport by an inscrutable white-gloved Chinese driver decked out in a livery tailored to absolute perfection, who held up a sign which must have taken them weeks to engrave with my name.

Without a second look at my knobbly knees, this benign-looking Fu Manchu opened the door to a luxurious green machine which was a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud whose loudest noise came from its electric clock. And there wasn't much of it either as I was ushered into the hushed gilt-rococo splendour of the Peninsula's lobby.

Everything had been prepaid and so, without further ado, I was escorted, with a deference usually given to royalty, to my suite overlooking Kowloon Harbour. Miraculously, my humble duffel bag had escaped fumigation and possible incineration and was already atop a rosewood luggage rack normally reserved for personally monogrammed Louis Vuitton leather luggage sets.

I won't bother you with all the other luxuries this Grande Dame of the Far East bestowed on me and which I thoroughly enjoyed and made full use of. Had it been my own money, I would've just as happily put up at the YMCA around the corner in Salisbury Road but, hey, my new employ-ers were France's national oil company and they were footing the bill. Profite de la vie, suis tes envies, vis sans regrets, ..... tu sais pas où tu seras demain.