Photo by Andrew Beatson on

I stand beneath the gathering thunderstorm —
an understorm
and wonder on my own intrinsic lightning.
There is an invisible gradual heightening like a tingle through the veins;
the blood pumps richly out and thinly in
again, again; as if
somewhere for my part a decisive gale brewed.
There are dark clouds too in my interior
counter-weather. No doubt stars are concealed
behind their dense-opaque cover,
but now I don’t see them, whatever their glow
might mean. Vaguely,
I feel that first flash preparing to discharge
and here exactly is the long-drawn-out apprehension:
just where o where this time will the jagged spark strike home?

The Witness: Trial of 47 Hong Kong Democrats | 5 February 2023

Two trials of immense historical significance are currently taking place in Hong Kong, one dealing with forty-seven democrats who took part in an unofficial primary election in 11-12 July 2020, and one involving the editors of 立場新聞 Stand News, who have been accused of publishing “seditious” material on their on-line newspaper. In a very real sense, democracy and freedom of speech are on trial here, and what the gruelling court process will eventually reveal to us is exactly what lengths the Chinese will go to criminalize all aspects of political expression incompatible with dictatorship.

A YouTube channel called 法庭線 The Witness has been uploading clear, concise reports in Cantonese on both trials, and I have found them useful for making sense of what is going on. If you rely on the English-language media for your information, you may find that my rough translations of this material complement what appears on the Hong Kong Free Press website and elsewhere. If you do read Chinese, you may also find the detailed reports on the 獨立媒體 Inmedia website of great interest, especially with the verbatim transcriptions of various comments made by judges, legal representatives and the defendants. To date, to my surprise, there have been many moments of laughter during the trial of the forty-seven democrats, and some intriguing quibbles over the translation of certain words and phrases offered by the official legal interpreter.

You can watch the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only).

2020年民主派初選 | 四十七名民主派人士 | 其後被控「串謀顛覆國家政權罪」

Caption: 16 名不認罪被告

十六個唔認罪嘅被告即將受審 | 將會係涉及 | 「串謀顛覆國家政權罪嘅 | 首場審訊 | 根據《國安法》| 一旦罪成 | 刑罰按參與程度分三級

Caption: 首要分子:判囚10年以上至終身監禁 | 積極參加:判囚3至10年 | 其他參加:判囚 3 年以下或禁閉刑罰

最嚴重嘅 | 可以判囚十年以上至到終身監禁 | 案件不設陪審團 | 由高院《國安法》指定法官 | 陳慶偉、陳仲衡、李運騰審理 | 預計審期大概九十日 | 控方早前話 | 呈堂證物包括初選論壇片段 | 被告競選宣傳片 | 又透露有其中三個被告 | 將會以「共犯證人」嘅身份作供

● 其後 keih4 hauh6 = later | ● 受審 sauh6 sam2 = to stand trial; to be tried; to be on trial | ● 涉及 sip3 kahp6 = to involve; to relate to | ● 審訊 sam2 seun3 = to interrogate; to try | ● 罪成 jeuih6 sihng4 = (?) to establish a person’s guilt | ● 刑罰 yihng4 faht6 = a penalty; a punishment | ● 參與 cham1 yuh5 = to participate in; to have a hand in | ● 首要分子 sau2 yiu3 fan1 ji2 = major culprit; ringleader | ● 判囚 pun3 chauh4 = (?) to be sentenced to prison | ● 禁閉刑罰 gam3 baih6 yihng4 faht6 = (?) “confinement penalty” | ● 陪審團 puih4 sam2 tyuhn4 = jury | ● 指定 ji2 dihng6 = to designate | ● 審理 sam2 leih5 = to try; to hear | ● 預計 yuh6 gai3 = to anticipate; to predict| ● 審期 sam2 keih4 = roughly, “the trial period” | ● 呈堂chihng4 tohng4 = ? cf. 呈堂證供 = sworn evidence | ● 證物 jing3 maht6 = evidence | ● 論壇 leuhn6 taahn4 = forum | ● 競選 gihng6 syun2 = to enter into an election contest; to campaign for (office); to run for| ● 宣傳片syun1 chyuhn4 pin3*2 = roughly, “publicity/promotional video”| ● 透露 tau3 lauh6 = to divulge; to leak; to disclose; to reveal

2020 Democrats’ Primary Elections | 47 Democratic Figures | Later Accused of the Crime of Conspiring to Subvert State Power

Caption: The 16 Defendants who Pleaded Not Guilty

The sixteen defendants who pleaded not guilty are about to stand trial. This will be the first trial related to the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. According to the National Security Law, once guilt is established [一旦罪成], there are three levels of punishment depending on the degree of involvement [參與程度].

Caption: [For] a major culprit or ringleader: more than 10 years or up to a lifetime’s imprisonment | [For] an active participant: 3 to 10 years imprisonment | [For] other participants: less than 3 years imprisonment or confinement [禁閉刑罰]

In the most serious [cases], one can be sentenced to more than 10 years or up to a lifetime’s imprisonment. There is no jury for this trial. It will be heard by three high court judges designated by the National Security Law: Andrew Chan Hing-wai, Johnny Chan Jong-herng and Alex Lee Wan-tang. The trial is expected to last for approximately 90 days. The prosecution earlier indicated that video footage of the primary election forums and promotional videos from individuals contesting the election will be used as evidence. They also revealed that three of the defendants who pleaded guilty will give evidence as accomplice witnesses.

【1:00】至於三十一個認罪被告 | 將會喺唔認罪被告嘅審訊之後 | 先至判刑 | 案中四十七人 | 由被捕、到開審 | 歷時超過兩年

Caption: 各人FB片段

2021年1月 | 警方國安處拘捕 | 五十五名民主派人士 | 喺《國安法》實施以嚟 | 拘捕人數最多嘅案件 | 佢哋之後獲准保釋 | 唔夠兩個月 | 收到警方國安處通知 | 要提早去到警署報到 | 最後有四十七人被落案起訴「串謀顛覆國家政權罪」| 經過大概四十個鐘、橫跨四日嘅「馬拉松式」保釋申請 | 《國安法》指定法官 | 總裁判官蘇惠德 | 批准十五個人保釋 | 律政司隨即提出覆核 | 裁判官需要依例將全部人收押

● 判刑 pun3 yihng4 = to sentence | ● 被捕 beih6 bouh6 = be under arrest| ● 開審 hoi1 sam2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 歷時 lihk6 sih4 = to last (a period of time); to take (a period of time) | ● 拘捕 keui1 bouh6 = to arrest | ● 案件 [ng]on3 gin6*2 = a case | ● 獲准保釋 wohk6 jeun2 bou2 sik1 = roughly, “to secure approval to be bailed” | ● 警署 jing2 chyuh5 = police station | ● 落案 lohk6 [ng]on3 = to lay a charge against | ● 總裁判官 jung2 choih4 pun3 gun1 = chief magistrate | ● 律政司 leuht6 jing3 si1 = the Department of Justice | ● 隨即 cheuih4 jik1 = immediately; presently | ● 覆核 fuk1 haht6 = to check | ● 依例 yi1 laih6 = (?) in compliance with the rules | ● 收押 sau1 ngaat3 = to detain

As for the thirty-one defendants who have pleaded guilty, they will not be sentenced until after those who pleaded not guilty have been tried. For the forty-seven people in the case, it has been more that two years from the time of their arrest to the holding of the court hearing.

Caption: [Video] clips from various individuals’ Facebook pages

In January 2021, the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force arrested fifty-five democrats. It is the case with the largest number of arrests since the implementation of the National Security Law. They were afterwards granted bail, but within less than two months, they were notified by the National Security Department that they were required to report earlier than expected to [their nearest] police station. After that, forty-seven people were charged, accused [起訴] of the crime of conspiring to subvert state power. After a marathon hearing for applications for bail lasting around forty hours [held] over four days, Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak, a judge designated by the National Security Law, approved fifteen applications. The Department of Justice immediately asked for a review [提出覆核]. [In compliance with the rules] the magistrate had to keep everyone in detention.

【2:00】一日之後 | 律政司撤銷覆核 | 其中四個人嘅保釋申請 | (感謝你們)| 其餘十一個人 | 高院指定法官杜麗冰審視之後 | 批准其中七個人保釋 | 之後再有還押被告 | 先後向高院申請保釋獲批

Caption: 13 人獲准保釋

去到開審之前 | 四十七人當中 | 一共有十三個人保釋緊 | 佢哋獲准保釋之前 | 曾經分別還押一日 . . . | 去到二百九十二日 | 另外三十四人正喺還押 | 其中余慧明同鄒家成 | 一度獲准保釋 | 其後被指違反保釋條件 | 撤銷擔保 | 已經還押出唔多五百日 | 戴耀廷、區諾軒、趙家賢等三十二個人 | 就已經還押超過七百日

● 撤銷 chit3 siu1 = to cancel; to revoke | ● 審視 sam2 sih6 = to examine | ● 獲批 wohk6 pai1 = (?) to be approved | ● 被指 beih6 ji2 = (?) to be accused of | ● 違反 waih4 faan2 = to violate; to infringe | ● 擔保 daam1 bou2 = to guarantee; to vouch for; to assure; to ensure

One day later, the Department of Justice cancel [its request for] a review of four of the people who applied for bail. The remaining eleven people were examined by the High Court designated judge Esther Toh Lye-ping. She approved bail for seven of them. Later, the defendants who remained in detention successfully applied for bail to the High Court.

Caption: Thirteen people are granted bail

Up until the trial began, of the forty-seven people, a total of thirteen of them have been on bail. Before they were granted bail, there were those who were detained for one day, and those who had been detained for 292 days. The other thirty-four people are still in detention. Of these, Winnie Yu Wai-ming and Owen Chow Ka-shing were granted bail for a time, but were later accused of violating their bail conditions. Their bail [擔保] was revoked. They have been in detention for nearly 500 days. The thirty-two other people, [including] Benny Tai Yiu-ming, Au Nok-hin and Andrew Chiu Ka-yin, have already been in detention for more than 700 days.


To find more clues about her birth father — an enigmatic painter — 阿綠 Ah Luk was all set to make the trip out to Cheung Chau. At the last moment, however, she scrapped her plans, succumbing to the doubt that 陳之一 Chan Chi-yat had planted in her mind: What happens if the father you have so vividly imagined turns out to be impossibly different in real life? The trip goes ahead nevertheless, with the ever-considerate Ah Luk thinking that a day-visit to the “dumbbell island” will help her friend get over his recent trauma sustained during clashes between police and protesters at Sha Tin’s New Town Plaza. Cheung Chau’s four Tin Hau Temples will surely bring some healing to his bruised body and soul . . .

Soundtrack: An Out-of-the-Ordinary Quietly Magical Mood


不過人心難測,去到最後一刻,阿綠莫名其妙咁改變主意、態度發生變化,同良德玻璃鏡店嘅前老闆、長洲鄉事委員其會中兩個成員同埋另外同長洲文藝圈子入便嘅人士士通通取消咗原定嘅會面;通知佢哋嗰陣就解釋返話,佢心入面仲未做好準備去面對呢件咁重要嘅事,唯有希望再過一段時間之後,可以慢慢獲得足夠嘅勇氣再試吓。其實,呢個原因喺阿綠下定決心放棄尋父扮演住一個相當大嘅角色,但係除咗呢樣之外,仲有另一個主要原因:本來佢為陳之一着想,假如自己喺男人仲未揾返父親嘅情況下成功同莊梓取得聯絡,咁樣嘅結局一定會為澳洲朋友增添多一份痛 苦、絕望、心悒。另外,佢當時仲未充分消化完自己母對親嘅新鮮認識:日記同埋《獨行詩》嘅内容依然有力量令綠髮女人感到驚訝。再者,阿綠又喺呢一方面受到陳之一嘅影響:佢幾次同阿綠講過話,萬一心想事成,但係見到嘅父親同想象中落差太大,可能會構成另一種難以承受得住嘅打擊——換言之,尋父嘅故事未必個個都會有美滿嘅結局。不過,雖然阿綠已經取消咗呢啲安排,但係佢最尾應承咗陪陳之一一齊去長洲玩返日,希望可以幫男友人儘快忘記佢喺沙田新城市廣場所經歷嘅磨難。









Learning Cantonese: Charmaine Fong’s Sai Ying Pun

If you’re a struggling, aspiring artist, you may find both consolation and enlightenment in this video about Hong Kong singer-songwriter 方皓玟 Charmaine Fong. For four years, she struggled away, working with two musicians to write hundreds of songs, and living for the most part on cheap restaurant food just to keep body and soul together. Yet she looks back on this time in steep-streeted 西營盤 Sai Ying Pun with great affection, because, as she declares:

我覺得作為一個創作人 | 其實係好需要一個艱難嘅時期 | 去俾自己學習 | 喺從中裏邊建立自己好多嘅價值觀呀
I think that, to be a creative person, you very much need, in fact, a difficult period, in which you give yourself [the chance] to learn, and in the course of which many of your own personal values are established.

Sai Ying Pun itself is credited by Fong has happening an energy conducive to creative work. On the one hand, it has all kinds of traditional Chinese shops, including 紙紮店 jí2 jaat3 dim3 — a store that sells goods made out of paper mainly used to make offerings to the dead. On the other, there are many Western-style coffee shops and places where you can buy organic produce. This eclectic hybrid vibe is described by Fong with the very neat phrase 中西交融 jūng1 sāi1 gāau1 yùhng4 = roughly, “a fusion of China and the West”.

If you have an interest in the magnificent Cantonese language, there some wonderful things you can take away from this consummately polished 1822hk production. Firstly, it reminds us that the fairly common character 跌 diht6 meaning “to fall” has a second pronunciation tit3 in the compound 跌打, a kind of traditional Chinese medicine that specializes in sprains, bruises and fractures resulting from falls.

Secondly, at 1:00, Fong uses the expression 大大話話 daaih6 daaih6 waah6 waah6, an idiom that means “a rough estimate, roughly, without exaggeration”. To be honest, this is the first time I have actually heard this phrase in use, so it was a bit of a Columbus moment for me, as it might be for you too.

Other worthwhile vocabulary items from this video include: 幕後 mohk6 hauh6 = behind the scenes; behind closed doors; 夾 gaap3 = (?) to get on well; to be on the same wavelength; 填詞 tìhm4 chìh4 = to fill in words to fit a given tune; 碟頭飯dihp6 tàuh4 faahn6 = food with rice on a plate; 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel; 價值觀 gaa3 jihk6 gūn1 = values; 斜路 che3 lóu6*2 = a slope; 慳錢 hāan1 chin4*2 = to save money (by limiting spending); the very Cantonese 發吽哣 faat3 ngauh6 dauh6 = daydreaming; staring blankly (also 發吽豆); and 歎 taan3 = to enjoy; to seek pleasure in.

The characters in Fong’s name (a stage-name, of course) tell a whole story in themselves and reveal something about her creative orientation. The unusual surname 方 Fōng1 has the basic meaning of “square”, but it can also mean “upright; honest”, as in the written expression 品行方正 bán2 hahng6 fōng1 jing3, “to have an upright character”. The first character in her personal name can be analysed into two parts, 白 baaahk6 = “white” and 告 gou3 = “to tell”. Combined like this they become 皓 houh6, which means “white; bright; luminous”, a character often used to describe the rather disparate entities of teeth and the moon! Finally, the very rare 玟 màhn4 — made up of 玉 yuhk6 (“jade”) and 文 màhn4 (“literature; writing”) — translates as “gem; streaks in jade” and appears for the most part in female names. At the end of the video, when you hear Fong say 希望喺自己創作裏便 | 唔好回避,能夠坦白咁講出大家嘅心聲 (“I hope that in what I create I don’t avoid [issues], and that I can speak out honestly about what we’re all feeling inside”), you will be reminded at once of the “plain telling” encapsulated in the single word 皓 . . .

You can watch the video here (subtitles in Standard Written Chinese only). If you’re interested in listening to some of Charmaine Fong’s music, you can peruse the contents of her YouTube channel here.

我諗一直以嚟 | 外界認識方皓玟嘅 project(作品)| 從來都係同社會啦,或者社區有關嘅 | 好「香港」嘅一件事啦 | 西營盤正正就係一個中西交融嘅好明顯嘅地方 | 而咁啱得咁橋呢,呢一度同我自己嘅音樂創作路有好大嘅淵源

Caption: 18 / 社區故事

喺零三年十一月我由台灣返嚟之後啦 | 噉本來一心諗住做幕後㗎喇 | 之後好偶然咁識咗阿創基同 Edmond(曾奕文)| 佢哋嗰陣時喺正街就有個 studio 啦 | 我會叫呢度做「奮鬥房」| 最初佢哋搵我幫手唱 demo(樣本歌曲)| 最尾就覺得,咦,大家都幾夾喎 | 想做啲嘢喎 | 噉啊決定咗 join 呢個團隊啦 | 我哋三個主力都係創作嘅 | 佢哋就寫歌,噉我就填詞 | 同埋唱埋 demo | 我記得真係 . . .

● 外界 ngoih6 gaai3 = outside; external | ● 交融 gāau1 yùhng4 = to blend; to mingle | ● 啱得咁橋 ngāam1 dāk1 gam3 kíu42 (?) = just by chance; as it happens | ● 淵源 yūn1 yùhn4 = a source | ● 幕後 mohk6 hauh6 = behind the scenes; behind closed doors; backstage; offstage; backroom; in the background | ● 奮鬥 fáhn5 dau3 = to struggle; to fight; to strive | ● 夾 gaap3 = (?) to get on well; to be on the same wavelength | ● 團隊 tyùhn4 déui6*2 = a team | ● 主力 jyú2 lihk6 = main force | ● 填詞 tìhm4 chìh4 = to fill in words to fit a given tune

I think that all along the outside world [外界] has recognized that the projects of Charmaine Fong are a very “Hong Kong” affair, and have always been about the society or the community. Sai Yung Pun is precisely a place in which China and the West are blended in a very obvious way and, as it happens, this area [呢一度] has been a major source [for] my own road [to] musical creativity.

Caption: 18 / Community Stories

After I came back from Taiwan in 2003, I was totally intent on working behind the scenes [做幕後]. Later, quite by chance, I got to know Ah Chong Ki and Edmond (Tsang Yik-man). They had a studio in Centre Street at that time. I used to call it “the Struggle Room”. Originally, they came to me to sing on some demos. In the end, I felt we got on pretty well, so wanted to do some things together. I decided to join the team. The main force of the three of us was creativity. They would compose melodies and I would write the lyrics to them and sing on the demos. As I recall . . .

【1:00】. . . 大大話話喺度都寫咗成幾百首歌 | 呢個奮鬥階段其實足足有四年咁耐囉 | 初頭寫歌可能你即係寫一百首都唔會中幾首吖嘛 | 噉但係你又要繼續努力去寫喎 | 所以,啫係,呢段時間 | 對於我將來創作有一個好深嘅影響啦

零六年推出嗰張大碟《歡迎光臨》| 入便全部歌都係由呢個階段嗰度寫出嚟嘅 | 噉咁啱嗰陣時啱啱喺香港出道啦 | 好多嘢都重新學習啦 | 噉啲歌就同佢哋兩個合作寫嘅 | 感覺就係好窮喇 | 但係就好充實 | 嗰陣時生活其實好公式嘅,即係好公式化 | 每日返去就係不停咁創作啦 | 辛苦完一日之後 | 就落樓下嗰間「聯華」度食碟頭飯囉 | 噉三個人迫埋一齊 | 噉同埋所有嗰度食嘢嗰啲碟都有冧把㗎 | 我哋就叫呢一度做「監獄飯」啦 | 如果去食「尼斯(餐廳)」嘅話呢 | 呢間食西餐嘅 | 卌呀幾蚊個餐已經係大餐嚟㗎, 對我嚟講

● 大大話話 daaih6 daaih6 waah6 waah6 = a rough estimate, roughly, without exaggeration | ● 推出 tēui1 chēut = to release | ● 大碟 daih6 díp6*2 = album; LP | ● 出道 chēut1 douh6 = serve out one’s apprenticeship and start one’s career| ● 公式 gūng1 sīk1 = formulaic | ● 碟頭飯dihp6 tàuh4 faahn6 = food with rice on a plate | ● 迫埋 bīk1 màaih4 = (?) to squeeze up close together | ● 冧把 lām1 báa2 = number | ● 呢一度 nī1 yāt1 douh6 = (?) here; in this place | 卌呀幾 sei3 aah6 gei2 = 40-odd; 40 and a bit more | ● 大餐 daaih6 chāan1 = banquet, feast, a special meal or dish

. . . we really did write several hundred songs here, more or less. This phase of struggle lasted, in fact, for a whole four years. When you first start writing songs, you can write a hundred of them but only make use of a few of them [都唔會中幾首]. Nevertheless, you must go on doing your best to write them. So, this period of time had a really profound influence on my future creativity.

In 2006, the album We Welcome You [《歡迎光臨》] was released. All the songs on it were written during this time. As it happened, it was at that time that my apprenticeship in Hong Kong came to an end. There were many things that I learnt all over again. The songs were written with those two collaborators. At the time, we felt very poor, but very fulfilled [好充實]. Life at that time was very formulaic, very regimented [公式化] — every day we would go back [to work] constantly creating [music]. After a day of toil, we would go downstairs to the Luen Wah Café to eat a plate of food with rice, all three of us squeezing up together. All the food plates there had a number on them, so we called this “prison food”. If we went to the Nice Restaurant instead, we’d eat Western food. A meal costing 40 plus dollars was like a banquet to me.

【2:00】嗰陣時根本冇能力攞錢返屋企㗎嘛 | 啫,只可以維持個生計啦 | 個志向好清晰啦 | 就係日日返去 studio 做嘢囉 | 噉所以就儲埋有好多感受 | 呢一種不斷掙扎嘅感覺呢 | 係我哋由三個 | 冇人識嘅創作單位 | 慢慢奮鬥努力去再獲得市場一啲嘅認同咁樣行落去囉 | 感謝可以喺台灣返嚟嘅時候遇到佢哋啦 | 因為佢哋俾咗一個好美好嘅時光我去成長 | 我覺得作為一個創作人 | 其實係好需要一個艱難嘅時期 | 去俾自己學習 | 喺從中裏邊建立自己好多嘅價值觀呀 | 同埋穩定自己嘅志向

其實我屋邨長大啦 | 噉但係同時都去過國外讀書 | 都受到西方文化嘅影響 | 噉咁啱西營盤呢笪地方呢,佢有好多唔同嘅商鋪 | 跌打鋪呀、茶葉鋪呀、花店呀、紙紮店呀、棺材鋪呀 | 噉呢種舊嘅鋪頭通通都有齊嘅

● 維持 wàih4 chìh4 = to keep; to maintain; to preserve| ● 生計 sāng1 gai3 = means of livelihood; livelihood | ● 志向 ji3 heung3 = aspiration; ideal; ambition | ● 感受 gám2 sauh6 = to experience; to feel | ● 掙扎 jāng1 jaat3 = to struggle | ● 認同 yihng6 tùhng4 = to approve | ● 價值觀 gaa3 jihk6 gūn1 = values | ● 穩定 wán2 dihng6 = stable; steady | ● 商鋪 sēung1 pou3 = a shop | ● 跌打tit3 dáa2 = bone setting; Die-da or Tieh-ta; traditional Chinese medicine specialized in injuries from falls, fractures, contusions and strains | ● 紙紮jí2 jaat3 = (?) paper offerings; bundled paper products (for the dead) | ● 棺材 gūn1 chòih4 = a coffin

Back in those days, I basically had no capacity to bring in any money back home with me. I could only earn enough to support myself. The aspiration was very clear: to go off to the studio every day and work. For this reason, [I] collected [儲埋] a lot of experiences. We kept going with this feeling of unrelenting struggle — a creative unit made up of three unknown [individuals] — gradually fighting and striving to get some recognition from the market. I thank my lucky stars [感謝] that I met those two [Ah Chong Ki and Edmond Tsang] on my return from Taiwan, because they gave me a very beautiful time in which to grow. I think that, to be a creative person, you very much need, in fact, a difficult period, in which you give yourself [the chance] to learn, and in the course of which many of your own personal values are established. Your aspirations also become more stable.

Actually, I grew up on a housing estate. At the same time, I went overseas to study, coming under the influence of Western culture. As it happens, there are many different kinds of shops in this place, Sai Ying Pun: bone setting shops, shops that sell tea, flower shops, paper-goods shops, shops [which sell] coffins. Here you can find all these old[-style] shops.

【3:00】噉同時又好多外國西式嘅 cafe 喎 | 亦都有好多 organic store | 呢一種中西交融嘅感覺我覺得非常之有趣 | 因為嗰陣時,呃,有家庭喇 | 小朋友就,啫,斜路多唔方便咁 | 所以就變咗會搬屋囉 | 正街係我事業爆發期嘅一個重要階段囉 | 啫,譬如我拍《一念無明》裏面我嘅角色叫 Jenny 嘅 | 佢係一個為咗供樓要捱麵包慳錢嘅一個女仔啦 | 我就嘗試用 Jenny 嘅角色去過生活啦 | 噉嗰兩個月就日日不停喺度食包囉 | 第一街有間麵包舖(加利年餅屋)| 佢哋就賣緊兩蚊一個甜餐包 | 嗰陣時我日日買個包,然之後就攞埋個包去開工咁樣啦 | 麵包店嘅伯伯 | 係同我一齊 grow 咗個角色出嚟嘅

《分手總約在雨天》| 《你是你本身嘅傳奇》 | 同埋《假使(世界原來不像你預期)》| 都係喺西營盤嘅創作嚟嘅 | 我記得嗰陣時寫《傳奇》就因為,啫,屋企隔籬裝修好嘈啦

● 中西交融 jūng1 sāi1 gāau1 yùhng4 = roughly, “a fusion of China and the West” | ● 斜路 che3 lóu62 = a slope | ● 爆發期 baau3 faat3 kèih4 = ? cf. 爆發 = to erupt; to burst out; to break out | ● 供樓 gūng1 láu42 = mortgage | ● 慳錢 hāan1 chin4*2 = to save money (by limiting spending) | ● 甜餐包 tihm4 chāan1 bāau1 = (?) sweet plain bun

At the same time, there are many foreign Western-style cafes. There are also many organic stores. I find it extremely interesting, the feeling of this fusion of China and the West. Because I had a family by then, and all the hill-slopes were hard on small children, I then moved away. [That time spent] in Centre Street was an important phase in the break-out period [爆發期] of my endeavours [事業]. For instance, when I was shooting [the film] Mad World, I played the part of Jenny. She was a woman who lived on bread to save money to pay off her mortgage. I tried to live the role of Jenny in my own life. For those two months, I ate buns here every day, without a break. There is a bakery in First Street (Catherine Bakery). They were selling sweet plain buns for two dollars. Back then, I’d buy a bun [there] every day and take it off to work with me. I grew the role of Jenny together with the older fellow [伯伯] [who worked] in the bakery.

The songs “Break-ups Always Happen on Rainy Days”, “You Are Your Own Legend” and “What If the World Wasn’t as You Expected” were all created in Sai Ying Pun. I remember that when I wrote “[You Are Your Own] Legend”, I did it in the café downstairs . . .

【4:00】噉我就走咗落去樓下間 café 寫嘢 | 般含道上面有間餐廳叫做 Czarina(莎厘娜)嘅 | 噉但係而家已經變咗做中原地產喇 | 嗰陣時就喺嗰間café嗰度寫歌詞囉 | 寫咗個 verse(主歌)出嚟之後 | 就好順利咁一路寫埋成首歌出嚟 | 我都覺得嗰個位 | 都算係西營盤嘅一個創作嘅「文昌位」嚟嘅

獨居係我嘅快樂時代嚟嘅 | 因為你成個生活就係專心寫嘢啦、睇書呀 | 我嗰陣時有好多作家我都覺得係我自己啲 friend 嚟嘅 | 啫,日日返到屋企睇住佢哋嘅書 | 我覺得好有佢哋個精神同我一齊囉 | 又會得閒睇吓經呀、種吓花呀 | 噉或者望住天花板發吓吽哣呀 | 我覺得如果一個人可以一世咁樣過呢啲咁嘅生活呢,就非常之快樂喇 | 「歎」嘅生活就係咁樣囉 | 嗰陣時去拍嘢啦,有工車嚟接我嘅

● 文昌位 màhn4 chēung1 wái6*2 = wen chang location, a feng-shui position said to create active qi that energizes the brain, making it useful for thinkers, writers and students | ● 獨居 duhk6 gēui1 = to live in solitude | ● 發吽哣 faat3 ngauh6 dauh6 = daydreaming; staring blankly (also 發吽豆) | ● 歎 taan3 = to enjoy; to seek pleasure in | ● 工車 gūng1 chē1 = work vehicle; company car

. . . because the place next door was renovating and it was very noisy. In Bonham Road there used to be an eating place called Czarina — it has now become [a branch of] Centaline Property. Back in those days, I wrote the lyrics [to “Legend”] there. After writing a verse, the writing for the rest of the song came very easily. To me, that place was a creative wen chang location in Sai Ying Pun.

Living alone was my happy time, because you could focus on writing things and on reading. In those days I knew a lot of writers whom I counted as friends. Every day when I got back home I would read their books — I had a strong sense of their spirit being with me. In spare moments I would read religious scriptures or do some gardening. Or I would stare up at the ceiling day-dreaming. In my view, if a person could spend her whole life like this, she would be happy in the extreme. This is what I would call “savouring” life. In those days when I was filming, a company car would come and pick me up.

【5:00】噉,啫係,化到個妝好行咁樣然之後去開工 | 然之後收工返屋企 | 又要行翻嗰條黑猛猛嘅樓梯上去 | 電線又跌嗮落嚟呀| 好多塵冇人抺呀 | 我覺得好似將我由一條五光十色嘅隧道嘅幕前 | 帶返我去現實生活 | 提醒我係由呢一度嚟嘅 | 噉亦都係好踏實咁生活囉 | 嗰陣時肚餓住喺呢度嘅時候,噉我就會落去對面街英記麵家度 | 食碗瘦叉麵啦 | 所有嘢都好地道啦 | 做人要好踏實 | 先至可以感受到其他人嘅感受 | 我覺得社會越複雜就越有多嘅話題可以寫嘅,其實 | 因為創作就係要回應社會嘛 | 多嘢發生 | 就有越多嘅感受想去分享啦 | 希望喺自己創作裏便 | 唔好回避,能夠坦白咁講出大家嘅心聲

我好鍾意西營盤㗎 | 因為我覺得人與人之間係有接觸嘅

● 黑猛猛 hāk1 māng1 māng1 = pitch black, very dark | ● 幕前 mohk6 chìhn4 = lit. “in front of the curtains” | ● 回應 wùih4 ying3 = to respond | ● 回避 wùih4 beih6 = to evade; to dodge; to avoid | ● 心聲 sām1 sēng1 (or sīng1) = heartfelt wishes; aspiration; thinking | ● 接觸 jip3 jūk1 = to come into contact with; to get in touch with

I would get my make-up done and then start work. Then I’d be taken home after work. I have to walk up a pitch-black stairway. All the electric wiring was in a mess. There was so much dust that no one wiped away. To me it felt as if I had been transported from a multi-coloured tunnel out in front of the curtains back to real life, reminding me that this was where I was from. It was also a very down-to-earth way of living. Back in those days, when I was living here and got hungry, I would go downstairs and across to Ying Kee Noodles on the other side of the road for a bowl of lean char siu with noodles. Everything there is very authentic. It’s only when you are very down-to-earth as a person that you can experience what other people are experiencing. In my view, the more complex society becomes, the more themes I have to write about, actually, because creativity [means] responding to society. The more that happens, the more experiences I have that I want to share. I hope that in what I create I don’t avoid [issues], and that I can speak out honestly about what we’re all feeling inside [大家嘅心聲].

I’m really very fond of Sai Ying Pun because I think there is contact between one person and another.

【6:00】有一種,呃,以前我細個嘅時候嘅香港嗰種守望相助嘅氣氛啦 | 成個社區係有交流嘅 | 鍾意佢俾到我嘅力量 | 都會影響到我寫嘅歌裏便 | 係好多時都講 | 關於人、人性同埋感情嘅 | 到而家啦,我都仲係覺得,西營盤係一個創作嘅福地嚟嘅

● 守望相助 sáu2 mohng6 sēung1 joh6 = (of neighbouring villages) keep watch and help defend each other; give mutual help & protection | ● 福地 fūk1 deih6 = a paradise; a lucky place; a good feng-shui place

There is a kind of . . . Back when I was a little girl in Hong Kong, there was that atmosphere of people looking out for one another. There was interchange throughout the community. I like the power it has given me, and the influence it has on what I write in my songs. Much of the time, I talk about people, as well as human nature and emotions. To this day, I continue to think that Sai Ying Pun has been a paradise for my creativity.