kenny hodgart

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Polyester politics

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post’s Post Magazine

In all the recent controversy over colonial flags and British Council MTR advertisements, it is curious that the vast yarns of polyester clothing the citizenry of Hong Kong in the livery of English football clubs have escaped mention.

It would be a stretch to label the English Premier League neo-colonialist. For a start most of its clubs’ owners, and players, are foreigners. But as Britain ‘s biggest cultural export these days, it is unsurpassed in its global reach; and for the ex-pat that means fending off one-word questions like “Chelsea ?”, or ” Liverpool?”.

Call me churlish – I’m Scottish and nobody ever says “Aberdeen?” – but it seems obvious to point out that in embracing English football, Hong Kong has spurned its own footballing heritage. After all, the city has the oldest professional league in Asia, had a handy “national” side when most other Asian countries still couldn’t kick their grannies, and, pre-EPL, important local matches could attract crowds of 30,000. Nowadays, the average first division gate is just over 1,000. Heavens above, in the 80s fans even had the cojones for the odd riot.

It doesn’t help that those in charge of football in Hong Kong – the same small group of people who seem to have a hand in most of the city’s sporting initiatives – have such a knack for making a Horlicks of everything, or that national coaches rival David Beckham’s hairdos for getting the chop. But consider this: EPL sides make a total of some £1 billion in broadcasting revenues every season; in Hong Kong, clubs pay NowTV to show games. Time to get back to watching football in the flesh. Polyester optional.


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Shaken down

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post’s Post Magazine

I’m comfortable with the word “bespoke” when it’s applied to tailoring. There is nothing worse than a suit that accentuates rather than disguises unshapeliness. I understand it is also applied to software, which is all very well but will make you sound like you’ve downloaded your clothes on Second Life.

“Bespoke cocktails” are a phenomenon at which a line must be drawn, however. It is a weasel phrase and one that is becoming ever-more ubiquitous – in magazines and in the PR gibberish thrown about on behalf of bars. Almost certainly it comes from New York, where everything now is either “bespoke” or “boutique” or “bijou” and everything on the menu is grass-fed, single cask, hormone-free, blah blah, hand-slaughtered, blah blah blah.

Insofar as “bespoke” means “made to order”, one would trust all cocktails to be so – as opposed to, say, out of a tin. You like Bulgarian gin? Ask for it. You want the thing shaken for 43 seconds? Count them.

Problem is cocktail bars have too much choice already. You knew where you were when it was just the classics: the dry martini, the Negroni, one or two others. Now it’s all jujube berries and organic cane sugar ground by unicorns and Orgasm this and Zombie that.

The worst of it, though, is the way people tell you about these places as if only they know of them; as if they’d invented a new colour. They haven’t. They just know where to get some over-priced booze.