Let's do the time warp again . . .

Sorry, Mr Eliot, but in Hong Kong, August is the cruelest month.

I'm writing this on the 28th, but I can assure you that there are far more than three days' worth of time to endure before September really arrives.

I have a theory about why this is so: right at this moment, schoolchildren all over the northern hemisphere are watching their summer holidays tick remorselessly away. As time accelerates for them, the excess is allotted to those of us enduring a Hong Kong summer -- matter and energy must be conserved, you know.

Of course, what gets you down in a Hong Kong August is mostly the weather. We've just been brushed by a rather undistinguished little typhoon, and had a couple of days of clouds, off-and-on rain, brisk winds -- and temperatures in the comparatively merciful mid- to high-20s. And yet the Hong Kong Observatory has attempted to convince us that this week's return to sun-and-32 constitutes an 'improvement' in the general situation!

In such bitter circumstances, I am reduced to seeking out forecasts for places even more enervating than Hong Kong: last week, for example, I noted that Death Valley in California was enjoying temperatures around 120 F, and that a couple of cities in Iraq were expecting a couple of degrees higher than that. The forecasts for Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also reliable diversions. Schadenfreude, your pleasures are like unto a cold beer on a parched tongue!

As you can already see, this self-indulgent little diatribe is going nowhere, but then hopelessly circular and self-referential whirlpools of perception are surely one of the prime symptoms of summers spent in Hong Kong, particularly when viewed from the perspective of an August afternoon. Things will get better, but of course there's no way really to believe that.