Hong Kong’s Parks

I like to reflect on the differences between foreign places and my own country. Currently in Hong Kong, I notice there is much which is similar. They drive on the correct side of the road and their traffic signs are the same as those used in Britain from 1931; it’s reassuring to cross the road with the all-too-familiar green man and waiting with his red cousin. Secondly, the weather. Unusually, the United Kingdom is currently enjoying temperatures akin to Hong Kong’s, though perhaps without the humidity and frequent showers.


On the other hand, there are interesting differences. I walked around a local park, just a five-minute stroll from my central hotel. It was all very orderly- a one way system had been imposed around the park to prevent accidents; smoking and spitting were forbidden in equal measure. It was getting dark, but there were no menacing gangs of teenage hoodlums strutting about or drug-induced dead-legs huddling in corners. Indeed, there were no young people to be seen. I dare say they were at home, working on their school or college assignments. Instead, the parks were thronged by old folk, playing on the swings, laughing together on the benches, even using the children‘s play areas for their fitness routines. In Mother England, old people vanish indoors before dusk, escaping both the cold and the antisocial behaviour their very absence perhaps allows to flourish.


Research into the development of hooliganism in British football highlighted the decline of family-attendance and fathers going with their sons. Without the watchful eye of an older generation from the 1970s onwards, going to football matches became a young man’s preserve, and his testosterone-fuelled recklessness and aggression went unchecked. Although I have not been to a HK football game, the contrast with its parks and ours suggests that they have understood something we have not. I think that Britain’s colonies, though receiving a satisfactory elementary education, have since gone on to graduate with honours and might teach their old stepmother a thing or two.


I said, ‘Age should speak,

And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’

Job 32:7 


Older folk: you have so much to contribute in both the church and society at large. Teach wisdom to those who lack and give example to those who need.