Saturday, 16 July 2011

How to flush 20 years down the gurgler ... and other stories

Cities at night, wrote Martin Amis, are full of men who cry in their sleep. But bugger that runt with his weep ships and his sob probes. For cities at night are also full of men and woman (and everything in between) who not only weep but laugh, shout, jape, grope, jest, guzzle, nuzzle, snort, rort, gulp, shag, toke, slap, and tickle. Cities - real cities - and their denizens are defined by their nights. Their neon mean streets and their klieg lit main streets. Their pubs and clubs and their rub-and-tugs. Their gaudy emporia and their branded wonderlands. Their meandering alleys and dank secret lanes. Proper cities get dressed up at night, shed their dreary quotidian garb and put on their best pulling gear. They shift into soft focus and pout through vaseline lens flare as reality blurs around the edges. Possibilities seem endless. Temptations seem boundless.

For the past 20 years, I've woken up mainly in two of Asia's cities that never sleep; places that constantly remind you it's a short, sharp slide from king of the hill to bottom of the garbage heap. I have spent roughly a decade apiece in Hong Kong and, latterly, Bangkok, both surely amongst the world's most exciting places to work and play, towns that only reveal their lurid true colours by night. I pottered about at the wilder shores of journalism, tried to get ahead in advertising and blowtorched candles at all ends as a DJ. I know where some of the bodies are buried. I have seen some stuff. I ... done ... bad ... things.

This blog will be devoted to rants, recollections and reportage from my sometimes sanity-sapping stints in these twin metropolises where crazy is the common currency and the odd and otiose abound. I'll throw in some 'greatest hits' from my last go-round as a journo, and keep you abreast of my exploits as I clamber back into the saddle, ride off into the sunset and go in search of the earth's dark places. If culture sucks down words under neon loneliness, that shouldn't stop us trying to cough them back up.

See you on the other side.

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