Tuesday, February 05, 2008


I'm a skyscraper wean, I live on the nineteenth

But I'm no gaun oot to play ony mair...

O ye cannae fling pieces oot a twenty-storey flat,

Seven hundred hungry weans will testify to that,

If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,

The odds against it reaching earth are ninety-nine to wan.

The Jeely Piece
(Adam MacNaughton)

Me and my sister used to sing this song at ceilidhs in Iona, an island on the west coast of Scotland where we went on holiday for three weeks every year because our dad had a commission to carve birds and animals of the island on the cloisters in the old abbey. We lived in a cottage, so the song never really meant anything to me.

At the end of the month, after five years of living in high-rise buildings, I'm not going to be a skyscraper wean any more: we're moving to Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong island, to a ground floor flat with a patio garden. I've grown so used to living at such great heights that it's going to be a strange transition. I'll miss the amazing view (see above), and the sheer, epic laziness of having access to a supermarket directly underneath my block, even if it is only Wellcome; I'll miss being able to get the bus at quarter to 9 and still be early for work, or better still, walking down the escalator and arriving at the office in 20 minutes (or longer, depending on how high my heels are that day). But the place we are going to is a peaceful, calm refuge, and that can't be said of our current flat, where noise is all around and you can hear brakes squealing and car horns and the people upstairs running the bath, or arguing and slamming doors at all hours.

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