The Wongs 2009 Newsletter




Lu & Dave


Merry Christmas, Happy New Year from the Wong family!






with a new hairdo
at Lu's birthday celebration party


THE major event of 2009 is the buying of the Worldwide Garden flat as our future abode when Julia and I can no longer manage stairs.  We have been looking at this location for the past three years.  The flat is high up enough to over look the buildings in the near distance.  A minibus stop to access Tai Wai or Kowloon Tong MTR station is right outside the compound's gate yet the site is far enough away from the busy main road. For our choice, we paid through our nose.  It has 2200 sq ft net living area with four covered car parks, three of which are right next to the building's main entrance with no intervening stairs to get to the flat. 

2009 was occupied by much music making. The black and white photo on the right was taken at the chapel of the Chinese University of Hong Kong during a wedding performance by our troupe - the Galen Strings. 

January 2009 kicked off with the first, and unfortunately also the last, performance of the Galen Winds.  Around half of the founder players were doctors, but for the concert, we dragged in many helpers e.g. drummer, tuba player to help out.  I played a Yamaha tenor saxophone amongst a band of around 20.  This was a good instrument borrowed from my nephew Mark.




由日本組合 SMAP 主唱




日劇同一屋簷下 主題曲, 由財津和夫主唱


Under the Double Eagle - Josef Wagner 

This performance was one to be remembered.  Every one else in Galen Winds tuned up before hand except me. At the same concert, I also played in the string chamber group performance of  Corelli's Christmas Concerto, which immediately preceded the performance of the Galen Winds.  And 90 minutes before the concert start, during the dress rehearsal, I was called back to the hospital in Tsuen Wan to attend an emergency.  Between the Corelli and the wind band, I rushed from the double bass to the saxophone with no break in between.  Understandably no player offered to tune my saxophone for me using my mouthpiece!

Considering all this rushing around, playing at the Galen Winds performance was great fun, a first for me, and pleasantly,  the result was more than respectable.  Not a bad effort after four months of saxophone lessons on my part, and that the band had only two rehearsals ever.

Throughout the year, I played the double bass in the HKMA Orchestra at several concerts.  One of which was a full scale production of Strauss' Die Fledermaus complete with full set and costumes.  Mum kindly sat through two nights to entertain our supporting guests in the audience.  What amazed me was the enormity and complexity of such an opera, and only a light operetta at that. Our conductor, Maestro WOO Zun-hin, hiding in the orchestra pit, had the whole opera stored in his head. He was able to cue multiple orchestral sections of 70 players whilst watching, following a multitude of amateur singers on stage.   

In the summer, I proudly fulfilled my long standing wish to put on a show featuring the musical talents of the world Chinese Diaspora.  This materialized as a memorable concert part taken by ethnic Chinese guest musician-physicians from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the US.  Theme of the concert was Harmony.  The Video is the result of my first ever attempt at editing video, merging two amateur made videos into one show.

Autumn was marred by recurrent idiopathic bleeding into the left ankle ("haemarthrosis" ) that was extremely painful and disabling.  This partially resolved with some residual damage after two sessions of needle aspiration, coupled with much rest.  The only causative factor is blamed on the long term, low dose aspirin that I have been taking for many years.

At the annual hospital Xmas staff dinner, our team came in second for the best entertainment of the evening.  We featured a stage musical comedy supplemented by projected cartoon slides and subtitles for the songs.  I was “ Kenny C ” on solo soprano sax playing the tragic romance movie theme tune of the Titanic. Favourable comments were made of my Kenny G hair, but sadly no compliment was paid to my saxophone solo.  Our hospital pharmacist, played “ Vanilla May “ – she was just as good on the violin as Vanessa May but stunningly more beautiful.

The year finishes up happily with getting to know Bernard LAM, a middle age businessman who taught himself to play the piano and guitar.  Bernard is remarkably humble and low keyed ("cool").  His playing is sensitive and well thought out, thoroughly laced with interesting jazz harmony. Thanks to his patience and encouragement to overcome my self consciousness, I am happy to report that I can now improvise music albeit in a very rudimentary fashion.  This is indeed a giant step for me, and a fantastic transformation for a naturally unmusical person like me.  My ensuing hard work of practicing scales, modes and chords is driving Mum round the bend.




The Christmas has been severely delayed on my front by the HKWC Choir concerts which have ended very late, the last one was Dec 21st as supposed to somewhere in mid-December . It was a glamorous season, with performances at APA , St Johns Cathedral, and Cultural Centre, (these would be equivalent of Royal College of music Academy of St Martins in the Fields, and South Bank) , and the choir really performed brilliantly , helped by someone sneaking in a bottle of wine, and made us all rosy and smiley. Thankfully noone fell off the risers, although the sing in which we all swayed…..a near miss.

We have recently had a lovely trip to Australia for a wedding held in Melbourne University, and a stopover in Sydney to met up with old friends. Louise Dave and Nic were also invited we spent a pleasant and balmy week, touring the vicinty . The weather in Melbourne was cool, there was a break in the drought just immediately after the wedding(that was lucky!!) , so we experienced the heat just before it , in the Yarra valley where we visited the Moet et Chandon winery as well as others. I was very excited by the 4 wheel drive Dave had hired which had a refrigerator in the back…such a clever invention. Consequently we ate very well from Australian supermarkets . The wedding was perfect, and presumably bride and groom settled down to domesticity in their apartment in a converted lunatic asylum.

The rest of the year, passed fairly uneventfully, with a trip to London in the summer and back in February, to blow away the cobwebs in the flat, and see friends.
 The trip in February was a special fun one being a reunion of friends from University and neighbourhood days for 60th celebrations. We decided on Venice where we had a great time, and there were not the crowds to contend with. The summer trip was a kind of working trip with renovations to attend to.
I had a short trip to Guangzhou, our nearest City, and well known for being the factory of the world. It is in fact a very historical city, and now boasts it own Qin emperor with full jade suit and pristine unplundered grave site with concubines and servants (human sacrifice), bronze bells, money trees, and a whole museum full of artifacts. Quite a deterrent to property developerss who have to halt all building works if an ancient site is found.

This September I had a weak moment and end up with 2 dashchund dogs who needed a foster home. They are about 5 years old, and one had some health problems. As a first time experience, it was a little scary, but thanks to us having a roof and thanks to some support from the Doggy Rescue people, we are getting along fine. I have 4 eyes trailing me all around the flat, the adulation is quite hard to bear. Hong Kong is quite a difficult place for doggies, space and heat and restriction of places to go, but there is a sort of revolution going on where young people are choosing to keep dogs rather than have children. Therefore we have a Woofy guide to Hk which is invaluable in referncing park and restaraunts.

Our domestic  highlight was the moving out of Nic to alternative accomodation in the midlevels, ( SOHO)  and the moving back in of Jeff while he renovated his home , and studied for  his radiology exams.  It seems we may have the flat to oursleves by  January 2010.   It will be rather a  shame to have us two oldies kicking  about with no young’uns, but  we   sure will glad of the extra space each of us have to make our own noises, both musical and  biological,   after  Jeff has vacated. Jeff, pleased to say, has now completed ALL his exams and is a fully fledged Radiologist with gown to prove it.(no hood and no mortarboard)

Nic has been struck down with vocal nodules, and is significantly upset by it, as she was having fun going in for cabaret evenings. She is now contemplating returning to musical instruments and is watching closely the progress of Julie Andrews. Nic has been sent to Singapore on her current job, with specific interest in TV /cable stations . She returns each time with a Sing lilt in her voice…the perils of having a musical ear.
Lu and Dave also putting a huge amount of energy and finance into feathering their nest, and we will have a viewing today. The property market has been going like a bomb, the likes of which is unknown in he Uk (go along with a chequebook…its like a market ) so they are pleased to have bought early.

Charley has had an ankle problem which became acute during August, and was a result of bleeding into the joint.. He is Ok now having cut back on the aspririn he was taking. He has cut his working hours now, and works 6 ½ hdays a week only, with time to take up saxophone and play with the orchestra in the evenings and weekends . We also have had some peformances of quintets which you may hear on if you dare.
We have also decided that it could be time to lay contingency plans for lifts to get into our home, so we have bought a flat in Shatin, which will also require serious renovation….but which will be large enough to hold the orchstra rehearsals .and store all the orchestral accoutremnets .

Thank you for your letters of family news, congratulations especially to those with grannyitis, and please keep sending the photos!!


So, Jeff finished his last professional examination and is now a Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists. He is overjoyed, mightily relieved and is looking forward to a completely new lifestyle. I hear he’s planning an adventure to Peru next!


Lu & Dave 

The biggest news of 2009 is OUR HOME. After 9 months of hunting in every neighbourhood in Hong Kong, we finally found our dream home. We spent months and months in the sweating August/September/October heat, pounding up and down the hardware/interiors districts of Hong Kong, fighting with each other, and (sometimes) finding the most awesome stuff, and finally agreed to (amongst other brilliant features):

- orange mosaic tiles all over the ensuite bathroom
- wicked massive built-in bath in the second bathroom
- glow-in-the-dark planetarium wall paper on the corridor ceiling with disco ball, built-in spotlights and matching planet lights

- all the best designer kitchen appliances but bargain basement display models because we are essentially very cheap
- doot doot doot fancy electronic combination lock for the front door
- light switches with a very nice mechanism and small blue light (Clipsal E3000s, actually).
We haven't quite moved in yet - we hope that we will love our home shortly. D-Day is 30 December 2009.

Lu got fired and hired. By the same firm. Within a month. But is no longer a lawyer. Yippee!
Dave didn't and is still a credit ratings analyst - doing well but a little bit boring.

Oh, and the second year of our marriage has been no less challenging than the first. We're ending 2009 on a strong note though, Wife now knows who Mick McCarthy looks like, and Hubs appreciates Wife's homemade cupcakes and quiches. We've also found a second hand table football table.


The 2nd year in Hong Kong has been another year of change and new beginnings. After doing a bit of travelling to Vietnam, Taipei, Yunnan and back to U.K. earlier in the year, Nic spent the 2nd half of this year getting familiar with her new home and new surroundings in Soho. Timing wasn't great, though, since about exactly the same time she got vocal chord nodules and wasn't allowed to go out and use her voice for 2 months!

The voice is now recovering and Nic is starting to enjoy the local scene, meeting some friendly neighbours and snuggling up in her teeny tiny flat.  She has fallen in love with the two daschund dogs that mum is fostering from Hong Kong Dog Rescue and raised HK$4.2k for the charity dog walk.

Dancing continues and am still working for PwC Consulting in the media industry, travelling regularly to Singapore to eat chilli crab (and work on her project).



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