A Word In Your Ear - March 19, 2015

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Many readers enjoyed last week’s column about Hong Kong, now ‘half a day away’ on direct flights from Manchester.

However, living there in the 1980s wasn’t all glamour. South China Morning Post wages didn’t amount to much in the glamour stakes.

I first shared a third-floor, 700sq ft flat with two others. It was over a nightclub where a Filipino band played until 3am. You got to sleep eventually, but would wake if the band changed its setlist.

Our floor of this mixed-use, 11-storey block was aromatic – thanks to a spice store that attracted rats. Fortunately, the block’s resident cat was on patrol – as was a Sikh living down the corridor.

He emerged for work each day carrying a hockey stick.

I wondered if he was a professional player, but the stick turned out to be his own personal weapon as security guard.

When colleagues went on holidays, I would ‘flat-sit’ their homes to avoid spiralling rents.

One was on top of a spindly, 23-storey skyscraper.

It had an illegally built balcony that doubled the flat’s tiny floor space. Its thin metal base bent as I walked – but the view was breathtaking!

Then I stayed in a large flat by Happy Valley horse track, but couldn’t get home through crowds on race nights.

Another berth was on the outlying island of Lamma.

This was delightfully traffic-free, but the calls of the bullfrogs kept me awake. Also, without street lights, you had to shuffle your feet and use a torch if walking at night – for fear of snakes.

Finally, I shared a crumbling place on The Peak.

It was once used as a set in classic film A Many Splendoured Thing, as its stone balcony overlooked magnificent Victoria Harbour.

Trouble was, it was usually too misty to see!

* Visit www.royedmonds-blackpool.com