Thursday, 30 December 2010

給Anita的信

Dearest Anita,

你好嗎?今年有沒有到哪個地方去玩呢?

不經不覺,你離開已經七年了。

七年……

想起來真有點不可思議。

不過,七年之癢之類的笑話,當然不會在你我之間出現。即使少了親近,這顆心還是一樣的。

相信你也知道,對我來說,這是頗不尋常的一年。以往敢想不敢做的事情,竟然都付諸實行了--離開了工作差不多七年--又是七年--的老東家,重返校園。又趁著開學前的假期,一個人到內地旅行一個月,從齊魯大地走到江南水鄉。

不,我其實不是一個人。路上有你,還有趙太太。

這是我離家最長的一次。其實也不知道哪裡來的勇氣,就這樣卯足了勁出門去。慶幸一路上有你和趙太太,還有晚間直播的世界盃足球賽,不但沒有半點寂寞,其實寫意得緊。最大的收穫莫過於一個月早睡早起天天運動極有規律的生活,即使旅途有點買不到車票、火車誤點之類小考驗,心情還是愉快的。

說起世界盃,不知你有沒有看?沒有了碧咸的英格蘭,同樣令球迷失望。就算你仍在捧英格蘭,我還要不識趣的說一句:他們不值得你去捧,根本無料到!英格蘭除了香港人的情意結之外一無是處,你還是不要白費心機啦。

好容易盼到開學,起初心情還算不錯。你認識我這些年,想你看到我泡圖書館時雙眼發光的樣子,大概也不會大驚小怪了。倒是我,真的不知應該那樣形容那份興奮和狂喜。發黃紙頁的香氣,總是有一股難以抗拒的吸引力。可能在你眼中,我這跟索K上癮差不多。

可是一個學期下來,實在感到萬二分失望和氣餒。不是因為成績,也不是因為功課太忙,而是因為繼續求學的機會已經很渺茫了。先不說自己完全不懂怎樣擬定題目、寫研究計劃,就連找個合適的老師去請教也是問題。寫研究計劃,就像寫產品推銷計劃一樣,必須先知道客戶喜歡甚麼,投其所好。只要不合對方脾胃,再好的研究也沒指望,而且必須破釜沉舟,一擊即中。全香港設有歷史系研究院課程的大學只有兩間,但兩校的教授看來對宋史全無興趣;唯一專研宋史的何教授卻沒有收研究生。或者有人會問:怎麼不隨便寫一個能得青睞的題目,先拿到了學位再說?問題是我年紀不小了,想要做自己喜歡的事情也只能一擊即中,實在經不起花個三五年光景去討好別人。更重要的是,我不想這樣。所以那天看書看到蘇東坡讓朝雲一語道破他滿肚子不合時宜,真是於我心有戚戚然。你應該會明白我這不合時宜的倔強的,對嗎?

或者到外地去唸嗎?一是積蓄不夠,二是不想離家太久,畢竟老媽年紀大了,如果離開幾年,我只有比她更不放心。到內地去唸嗎?幾家目標大學的網上章程我都看過了,要考入學試也罷了,考甚麼卻全無頭緒,所謂官方指引只有科目,細節至今仍未找到。更甚的是要上政治課,內地的政治語言和要求我是熟知的,但知道不等於接受;以我這般霹靂火爆的脾氣,怎麼受得了?

儘管萬分的捨不得,大概明年畢業之後,還是要回到起點,重新當個上班族。至於要做甚麼,目前還沒有頭緒,條件是不想工時太長,希望騰一點時間自修和研究。既然正規的學術研究做不成,當成副業自娛總可以罷?不過,以香港目前的經濟和社會環境,工時不長的要求,可能只是妄想。畢竟人浮於事,我揀人、人揀我嘛。唯有到時再想辦法調整心情,自我排遣罷了。

也許是我神經過敏瞎疑心,或者是旁觀者清,這幾個月遠離江湖,反而覺得香港真的愈來愈不像話。關注民生,就是政府給自己短視無能開脫的最佳藉口。社會的反智、庸俗、濫情,已經到了無法忍受的邊緣。今年我花了不少時間到處去看古蹟,用文字和照片紀錄下來,固然是因為這些東西可能隨時消失,更因為我想自己應該認真考慮離開這個地方,轉換一下環境。對於這個土生土長的家,感情還是說不出的深厚和親暱,所以每次到歷史博物館看「香港故事」,總是哭得一塌糊塗,嚇得同學不知所措。但正是因為愛,所以受不了看著它墮落而無能為力。

如果你是我,你會怎樣做呢?

希望在新的一年,船仍然駛得到橋頭,自然變直。

新年快樂!

Forever yours,

Monday, 20 December 2010

我和趙太太去旅行(序)

維時一個月的「易安之旅」,一晃眼就結束了。回家的時候,頗有意猶未盡之感。尤其是想起有些地方想去沒去成,有些地方不夠時間仔細觀摩、靜心體會,總是有這樣那樣的遺憾。沒想到一下飛機,雜事紛至沓來,應接不暇。好容易等到開課,每天要忙著讀書淘書找資料寫功課,六個月就這樣無聲無息地消失了。那是整整一年的一半啊!柴九整天價把「人生有幾多個十年」掛在嘴邊,連未識愁滋味的巷里小兒也琅琅上口;但以我現在的處境,十年卻是說甚麼也揮霍不起的奢侈。十八廿二的青春已經離我太遠,要揮霍也沒本錢了。

就是因為時日無多的壓迫感愈來愈強烈,所以萌生了和趙太太去旅行的念頭。「趙太太」者,李清照易安居士是也。去年看罷崑劇《紫禁城遊記》,深受「遊便是祭,祭便是遊」的八字真言所觸動--懷著崇敬感恩的心,重踏古人的足跡,也是對歷史的尊重,給古人的謝禮,更是對自己和身處世代的沉思。不明白為甚麼這個地方那麼多人漠視傳統和歷史,以「過時無用」、「關我屁事」等淺薄之言肆意詆譭,真是愚不可及,鄙陋之極。錢穆先生《國史大綱》卷首有云:「任何一國之國民,尤其是自稱知識在水平線以上之國民,對其本國已往歷史,應該略有所知。否則最多只算一有知識的人,不能算一有知識的國民。……所謂對其本國已往歷史有一種溫情與敬意者,至少不會對其本國已往歷史抱一種偏激的虛無主義,即視本國已往歷史為無一點有價值,亦無一處足以使彼滿意。」那麼,當今汲汲於名利而對歷史傳統嗤之以鼻者,又該如何稱之?

更何況,人生無常,與其期諸虛無縹緲的日後,不如趁著有心有力,就把想做的做完,以免將來後悔莫及。這念頭藏在心裡,一直無法割捨,但要付諸實行,也得大費周章。

編排一個月的行程,足足花了兩個月的功夫。

追尋李清照生平足跡的奇想,到底從何而來?我實在記不起了。反正做了她老人家的粉絲這些年,從來沒有甚麼貢獻,只會有事沒事的往她的遺墨故紙堆裡泡上半天,找一點慰藉。今年夏天辭掉工作之後,開學前正好有一空檔,所謂良機莫失,既然臨老要任性一回,索性玩得盡情些,和趙太太去一趟旅行吧!

就這樣,我拖著一隻大行李箱,把王學初先生的《李清照集校註》放在背包裡,出門去也。

是為序。

Saturday, 20 November 2010

《金鎖記》

今晚去看魏海敏演新派京劇《金鎖記》,乘車時匆匆的把原著翻看了一回。

帷幕開處,驚覺曹二奶奶就在眼前。雖然坐得很遠,還是覺得臉上被她那些話裡的尖刺不經意地掃過,刮得隱隱生疼。然後看著她教兒子抽鴉片、給女兒纏小腳、在親戚面前胡說八道數落媳婦兒,一陣陣像烏鴉鳴噪似的獰笑,聒耳之極,一股砭骨的寒意從心底裡冒升,彷彿劇場的溫度斗然間降到了零下。

魏海敏果然名不虛傳。看她謝幕時五體投地,我何嘗不是佩服得五體投地?

編劇王安祈、趙雪君兩位女士,大概早把祖師奶奶的原著看個熟透,咀嚼爛了,融血入骨,才寫得出這樣情辭並茂的故事來。素來不太喜歡京劇,就是因為文詞稍嫌鄙俗;如今這部《金鎖記》,卻教人耳目一新,刮目相看。也許只是自己孤陋寡聞,以前沒機會看到真正的大手筆而已。

只是,這個戲即使再好,實在不能多看;要是看多了,難保不會潛移默化,讓曹二奶奶的嚦嚦鶯聲把心底裡潛藏的牛鬼蛇神喚將起來,那可大事不妙。

Friday, 19 November 2010

《舞台姊妹》

剛去看進念的《舞台姊妹》,體驗一下在舞臺上面對觀眾的感覺。坦白說,一小時四十分鐘的演出,一直沒看懂。直到完場後聽了石小梅的一席話,才明白過來。

原來她們在演自己,在沉緬於自己的過去,在表述自己的現在,在預覽自己的將來。

難怪五位江蘇崑劇院不同輩份的演員和何秀萍(藝名「何Lily」的唱片騎師)沒有對白、沒有交流,只有自我陶醉。

也許有人會問,為甚麼要花錢花時間看人家自我安慰?我本來也以為自己會割櫈抗議,結果沒有。既來之則安之,我想,自己早已習慣貨不對辦,唯有盡力讓自己心裡舒服一點、平伏一點。

其實,崑劇的身段很好看。其中一位,在排練《牡丹亭》的折子。用扇子連演帶唱聲情並茂的唱了幾段,把扇子放下。又一位,連扇子也不用,只練袖子功,把一幅長長的薄紗當頭蓋和水袖,舞得甚是好看,最後卻把它扔到地上踩成一團。比較年輕的一位,在舞臺前端跳秧歌,跳了很久,愈跳愈快。終於慢了下來,十根指頭化作孔雀的冠冕和長袍,活潑靈敏、搖曳多姿。石老師背著觀眾坐在角落裡,有點像導演,也有點像觀眾,不過不是普通的觀眾,而是團裡的導師,在舞臺後方看著臺前的同事或後輩。只有何秀萍像幽靈一般在臺前踱來踱去,最是無聊。

崑曲也很好聽。少年時不覺得怎樣,老了才聽出一點滋味來。如今才明白,有時候不用聽懂曲詞,光是音調的抑揚頓挫,也足以令人心搖神馳。最後出場的一位應該和石老師同輩的,兩人輪流演唱一段崑曲,大概就是主題曲罷?全曲七字八句,看來像七律。全文記不住了,只記得最後兩句:「無奈異鄉夢斷處,從此殊途不同路。」

最後,六人又重新坐到臺前,面對觀眾。戲到了這裡,才算有點味道。

人生本來就是孤獨的。不過人生在世,總會碰上其他人,要和其他人相處,佛家給兩個人相遇的機會取了一個浪漫的名字,叫作「緣分」。緣分來了,就聚在一起;緣分盡了,那就散夥。殊途不同路,根本就是人的宿命。可是即使多麼豁達的人,只要想起來了,總是難免有點傷感。蘇東坡說得好:「但願人長久,千里共嬋娟。」既然緣分不可永久,親如父母兄弟也一樣,那就互相祝福,希望大家都好好的過日子吧。

雖然人大多喜聚不喜散,但只有身體在一起,心裡各有盤算,那又是甚麼滋味?看著眼前的演員聚集在臺上,但卻各自忙著自己的事情,有人跳舞、有人唱曲、有人練功。那麼,應該算是有緣,還是無分?

姊妹,原是親暱的血緣,也是相知相敬的真情。但在《舞台姊妹》裡,卻看到令人不忍卒睹的孤獨和疏離。石老師說從別人身上看到年輕的自己而感動,其實是感慨,還是悸動?

Thursday, 18 November 2010

On West Kowloon Cultural District

I feel guilty of not sharing my two-cent worth on the West Kowloon Cultural District as early as I want. But the tremendous workload at school just leaves me with little energy to thinking and writing other issues of interest and significance.

My understanding of the purpose of having the six-month public consultation and exhibition is to answer this simple question: "Which option do you choose?" If this is true, then let me give a simple answer: The blueprint of Rocco Design Architects that was inspired by Qingming Shanghetu, a masterpiece of painting that captured in incredible details the metropolis life of Kaifeng in the heyday of Northern Song (960-1127). An animated version of this painting is now on display in Hong Kong, but the official English translation of Riverside on Qingming Festival may not be fully accurate, because the words "Qingming" carries two different meanings in Chinese and there is no evidence to confirm which one was meant by the painter.

So much off-topic for now. Let me get back to the key issue. If I opt for Rocco Design Architects' proposal, the next question would be: "Why?" To explain the reasons of my choice is surely more difficult. But let me try to articulate my thoughts in simple and straightforward terms. I choose Rocco Design Architects' proposal because I think it resonates well with the metropolis character of Hong Kong.

For one thing, I think Mr Rocco Yim and his team have a good grasp of what Hong Kong needs and how we can make the most out of this mega project. Their conceptual framework of the project is succinctly summarised by the title of the project, "Cultural-Connect: Key to Sustained Vitality". To me, "Connect", "Sustained" and "Vitality" are the three key words to the whole project. "Culture", ironically, does not matter too much now because it is such a notoriously broad concept that we would never be able to reach consensus on it. Why waste our time then? We have already wasted too much time on meaningless criticism and debate since the project was first initiated. Our priorities should now focus on how to move things forward. In my opinion, however, it is important to ensure that the facilities in the project are flexible enough to accommodate different forms of art and cultural activities to be performed there.

Connectivity of the design is by all means impressive. I really appreciate the idea of having ferries to connect Central, Wan Chai, Tsim Sha Tsui and North Point. In fact, if the government refuses to reverse its decision to remove the Star Ferry Pier at Tsim Sha Tsui, perhaps it could be relocated to the West Kowloon Cultural District instead.

For sustainability, suggestions on renewable energy, waste reduction and recycling are to be applauded, but the effectiveness of these devices remain to be seen.

What impresses me most is the layout of the so-called 3D public space. Actually I don't really care if this is 3D or 4D. It is the logical and thoughtful layout that warrants my vote. It looks obvious to me that broad and deep thoughts have been given in the allocation of space with the need and convenience of users as the priority.

For example, the Xiqu Centre and the Xiqu Square will be located to the east end of the project, near Jordan and Yau Ma Tei. Arguably, the Xiqu compound will be the most accessible due to its proximity to public transport networks such as MTR, bus and minibus along Austin Road and Canton Road. Jordan and Yau Ma Tei are also among the oldest areas of development and home to many elderly people. Presumably, they are the largest group of target audience of Chinese opera programmes. Easy access to public transport and proximity to their homes can be expected to attract more attendance for Xiqu performances. It also makes sense to assign workspace and the humanities centre in the more accessible locations of the project for the convenience of users and people who will work there. With these thoughtful devices I feel confident and convinced that the project will be able to connect other parts of Kowloon and evolve into an organic, sustainable project.

However, my primary concern with Mr Yim's proposal is the residential property at the back of the project. As we have seen in many residential complexes developed on or near MTR stations, there is little connection and organic development with the local communities around them. It will be an immense challenge to integrate the new residential blocks with the existing, old communities around them and regenerate them into an organic creature.

The proposals put forward by Foster & Partners and OMA have some distinctive advantages. The concept of City Park with extensive green space and heavy vegetation ("Urban Forest") is by all means refreshing and motivating. But there does not seem any logic in the layout of facilities. Or perhaps I'm just too stupid to figure out. For OMA's proposal, I think the height and density of buildings are too high, and, more importantly, the concept of "village" just doesn't sound right for Hong Kong. The idea of putting a wet market in the project is great in terms of showing the hybridity and daily life of Hong Kong, but I am concerned how it can be coalesced with the rest of the project.

So, my vote goes to Mr Yim and his team.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

電影雜評

終於有時間收拾書桌的雜物,赫然發覺幾張電影票尾,原來這幾個月看過的電影真不少呢:《Toy Story 3》、《Inception》、《線人》、《龍鳳店》、《狄仁傑之通天帝國》、《Grown Ups》、《劍雨》和《告白》。種類不同,本來很難比較,就隨便說說印象較深、觸動較大的幾部罷。

自問對美國的卡通片興趣不高,看《Toy Story 3》純粹是為了解悶,即使之前的兩集口碑載道,至今仍未觀看。故事寫來曲折熱鬧,電腦動畫技術高超,確是賞心悅目。只是沒想到這是給成年人看的故事,難怪引起那麼多朋友在網上高談闊論。電影的教訓很簡單,就是珍惜資源,不要隨便丟棄;但今天的家庭大都是小孩太少,大人太多,幾乎個個小孩都給寵成了呼風喚雨的小皇帝,教他們要珍惜?能聽懂多少?反而戲裡玩具朋友的主人長大之後,怎樣對待玩具的感情和態度,頗能引起成年人的共鳴。還有垃圾焚化爐裡一大群玩具朋友面對危險不離不棄,手牽著手閉上眼睛、一起顫抖著身子等死那一幕,真教人熱淚盈眶。那份純粹真摯的感情,就像《射鵰英雄傳》裡在蒙古草原上騎馬嬉戲的童年郭靖和拖雷,沒有階級、沒有計算、沒有比較,可說是人生最快樂的時刻。但是現在某些家長連小孩子在學校裡跟甚麼人做朋友也要過問,咱們成年人是不是應該痛定思痛反省一下,自己怎樣剝奪了小孩最單純的快樂,再向學校投訴怎麼沒把自己的小孩教好?

《Grown Ups》說的也是友誼,本來以為能引起一些共鳴,結果沒有。平心而論,電影水準只屬一般,最搶鏡的始終是Salma Hayek。幾個麻甩佬屎尿屁連珠炮發的友誼大概也不是我輩所能體會。

在Facebook友儕間掀起熱潮的《告白》,不知怎地,我看來只覺一般。攝影、配樂水準之高是有目共睹的,只嫌太刻意了些。尤其是以輕快、純真、充滿青春氣息的音樂來反襯血腥暴力的場面,諷喻實在太明顯,反有矯情之嫌。電影中提出的問題都是老生常談了,但表達不算有力,除了賣弄天使臉孔魔鬼心腸、殺人不見血的不安與恐懼,實在看不出能造成怎樣的震撼。

松隆子的演出不如預期中突出,出格的應該是她飾演的角色罷?全片演得最好的應該是橋本愛(飾北原美月)、西井幸人(飾渡邊修哉)和藤原薰(飾下村直樹),即是戲裡殺過人的中學生。《告白》之所以造成震撼,坦白說,不是片中的青少年太變態,而是成年人太一廂情願。以前香港也有不少所謂「童黨」殺人搶劫,同樣造成很大轟動,可是未成年的犯人即使惡貫滿盈,也不會得到和成年罪犯一樣的制裁。這就是因為法律「假設」兒童和青少年的心智未成熟,不會干犯殺人之類的嚴重罪行。問題是,這種假設符合實際情況嗎?為甚麼要對青少年那麼寬容,讓他們以為殺人越貨也不用負責?戲裡戲外的事例不只一次提醒我們成年人,青少年心術不正、漠視法紀的情況不容忽視,他們也不一定是因為一時意氣而犯罪,往往都是經過精心籌劃的,但卻可以利用年齡的優勢扮無知博同情,減輕應有的罪責。歸根究柢,都是因為社會和教育制度出現了嚴重偏差,只培藝、不培德,才智比心術重要,一己之私比公義、公德重要,就是這麼簡單。我們不能諉過於青少年打得太多暴力遊戲而導致心理變態,因為這是咱們一手造成的。既然如此,為甚麼我們仍是停留在喜歡窺探血腥場面和變態的階段,沒有深思、不肯對症下藥?明年就是辛亥革命一百周年,但現在我們和清末那些被魯迅痛批、愛看死囚行刑、嗜血無知的鄉民有啥分別?

若要嗜血、追求感官刺激,我寧願看武俠片。武俠片和功夫片不同,總有一股仗劍江湖、快意恩仇的浪漫;而功夫片往往著眼於拳腳功夫的比併,少了一份浪蕩江湖、逍遙自在的情懷。

所以,很喜歡《劍雨》。因為導演拍出了久違了的浪漫。全片流暢可喜,沒甚麼冷場,武打場面細致精巧,賞心悅目。很喜歡曾靜和江阿生在茶館避雨那幾幕,兩人無語相對而情愫暗生,溫馨動人。那是在波詭雲譎的氣氛中難得一段旖旎風光,含蓄有致,餘韻無窮。所以即使《劍雨》的情節沒甚麼新意,犯駁之處頗多(其實被人刺中要害多次而不死,是武俠小說主角獨有的「專利」,有甚稀奇?張無忌、令狐沖不也是給人刺穿胸膛而不死嗎?反而高僧遺體竟是絕世神功秘訣所在,一群武林高手搶奪兩截乾屍,實在難以令人信服,而且畫面太噁心……),還是覺得很好看、很喜歡。

論劇本深度和學術基礎,《Inception》應是眾片之冠。竊以為《Inception》是近年科幻電影的傑作,編導科學造詣深厚,把科學理論與電影元素巧妙結合,成為娛樂、藝術、學術兼備的上乘之作。看到最後,可能每個觀眾的看法也不一樣,但至少也能從中深思人與人之間的關係,鼓起勇氣面對真正的自己。不知怎地,我看完之後,首先想到的卻是「莊周夢蝶」的故事。莊子不知道是自己夢見了蝴蝶,還是蝴蝶夢見了自己,其實和戲裡的inceptors一樣分不清現實和夢境,不是很相似嗎?其實在這個文過飭非、包裝當道的年頭,有時候連現實是怎麼樣,也不像以往那麼篤定了。

Sunday, 31 October 2010

開學三記

剛完成了學期中的功課,本來想休息幾天輕鬆一下,但一直沒法擺脫期末功課選題的煩惱。

自由選題當然是好,但前提是已設定一個方向,不是漫無目的在大海裡漂浮。我現在的感覺,就像掉進深海中,勉強抓住一根木頭載浮載沉,茫然不知所向。連信心也不免有點動搖了。

這段日子以來最深刻的感慨,就是自己讀書太少,根基不穩。看上去好像甚麼都懂,其實只是皮毛,不堪一擊。為功課選題的時候,感覺尤其強烈。就是因為甚麼都不太懂,搜集資料時倍感辛苦,也不知道這個方向對不對、手上的資料是否足夠應付課業的要求。向老師求教唄,還是那一句:按你的興趣來做吧。但我的興趣是宋代和韓國,並非課程所有,難道要寫宋朝或韓國的公共歷史嗎?即使我想寫,以我的程度、以三千字左右的篇幅,以平均一星期寫一篇的速度,能寫得來嗎?

兩個月下來,為了應付課業的要求,已是頗感吃力。平日備課尚能維持,但要寫功課的時候,連做運動也變成了奢侈。既然要寫功課,就免不了要搜集資料,但礙於功課繁多,時間有限,難免掛一漏萬。寫的時候,總覺得精神難以集中,思緒紛亂。一方面擔心資料太少,理據不夠充分;一方面又怕自己搜索枯腸,提出自以為有點創見的東西,其實前賢早有預言,只是自己讀書不博,懵然未知而已。所以總是寫了又寫、改了又改,甚至交給了老師之後,還是覺得不滿意。

古語有云:「無欲則剛。」真是再對也沒有了。這次唸書,因為有了私心,愈想取得好成績,壓力就愈大,更覺力不從心。有時甚至懷疑是不是自己的讀書方法有問題,功課寫來總是覺得虛無縹緲,沒有甚麼把握。

所以,只能不斷提醒自己,盡量放鬆心情,不問收穫,戮力應付。無奈愈想放鬆愈難放鬆,因為這次破釜沉舟、孤注一擲,更覺得不可以空手而回。與九年前以兼讀形式修課的愉快相比,真有天淵之別。

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

重看《紫禁城遊記》

上星期二到香港文化中心重看新編崑劇《紫禁城遊記》,少了初遇的震撼,多了一點重逢的惆悵。

這倒不是重看的緣故。重看本來就不是為了重溫劇情,而是希望重塑某一種情懷。即使成功率不高,多少人還是躍躍欲試。條件很簡單,就是故事得耐看,經得起時間和人心的試煉。

《紫禁城遊記》應該是經得起考驗的。張弘編寫的劇本非常出色,透過崇禎皇帝和蒯祥鬼魂的對答,介紹紫禁城的設計意念和建築特色,構思巧妙,曲詞也流暢優美,是難得的上乘之作。

張老師沒有在創作緣起中明確解釋以明末為故事背景的原因,但也有蛛絲馬跡可尋。他說:「說到紫禁城,我們自然想起了它的第一位主人明成祖朱棣。但第一個進入我構思的卻是清朝的末代皇帝溥儀。試想,溥儀在離宮的瞬間,他是如何回首投給紫禁城這最後的一瞥呢!順著這種思路的延伸,我終於將情節和情感的雙重沸點,都傾注到了明朝的亡國之君崇禎的身上。」

為甚麼是崇禎?為甚麼不是溥儀?張老師沒有說。不過,民間對於崇禎皇帝的感覺,可能要比溥儀深刻得多。首先,明朝是中國歷史上最後一個由漢人當皇帝的朝代,心理上難免有點剪不斷理還斷的民族情意結。崇禎皇帝於煤山自縊殉國的結局,也比少年溥儀遜位離宮更淒涼、更浪漫、更具傳奇色彩。張老師大概就是掌握了這種純樸而糾結的感情加以發揮。何況紫禁城創建於明成祖永樂年間,本來就是姓朱的祖業,以在位十七年的崇禎皇帝來「介紹」紫禁城的建築,似乎更覺順理成章。

今年崔護重來,仍由石小梅飾演崇禎皇帝,蒯祥則由趙堅代替去年的李鴻良。趙、李兩位都是資深演員,演出各擅勝場。但個人認為李老師身形清減些,更符合我對蒯祥的想像--不知怎地,總覺得鬼魂都是偏瘦的。

石老師兩次飾演崇禎,給我的感覺很不一樣。首演時,覺得她比較著重表現崇禎皇帝的氣度,即使是唱曲的嘴形,還是比較內斂和克制的。這次重演,覺得她把演繹的重點放在崇禎皇帝眾叛親離,瀕臨精神崩潰的絕望心境上。無論是表情、聲腔或唱曲時的嘴部運動,幅度都比首演時稍為誇張,讓人更真切地感受到崇禎皇帝賜死妻女、送走兒子、百官作鳥獸散之後的惶恐和無助。偌大的紫禁城,能容納成千上萬的人居住,如今卻剩下崇禎皇帝孑然一身。儘管舞臺不大,但整體氣氛非常肅殺沉重,彷彿紫禁城就在背景之中,眼前的皇帝只是攝影鏡頭裡放大了的影像而已。

可是不知怎地,自己對這次演出的感覺,並沒有首演時深刻。戲固然是好的,但總覺得好像欠缺了甚麼,想了幾天也想不出個所以然來。也許,當時經常被身旁不安分的觀眾騷擾,令欣賞的心情大打折扣了罷?

所以,重逢的時機和情景,也要講緣分的。

Monday, 18 October 2010

文海隨筆--《李清照正傳》

花了一個多月才讀完《李清照正傳》,打破了歷來閱讀關於趙太專著的最慢紀錄。

不只是因為功課繁重,更是因為看到作者不可一世、口沫橫飛的態度,實在令人頭疼。有好幾次在乘車時耐著性子繼續看下去,沒想到翻了幾頁就長嘆一聲,頹然放下。

書中提供了一些以前李清照集編者不曾提到的方志、對《金石錄後序》撰寫日期的解釋、對易安居士改嫁為非、招贅是實的辨證等,甚具參考價值。

可惜作者目空一切、自以為是的態度卻是不敢恭維。沒錯,王仲聞先生的《李清照集校註》享譽多年,但仍錯訛難免;其後的黃墨谷、徐培均、施議對、陳祖美等諸位研究者也分別提出了自己的見解,各有長短。這本來是學術研究平常不過的事,作者卻一副替天行道、斬妖除魔的口吻,不但批評前賢胡說八道、誤導讀者,更一口斷定自己的研究所得才是正確。問題是,易安居士作古多年,作品散佚已久,有關她的記載零碎蕪雜,要準確梳理她的生平事蹟,談何容易?除非她老人家復生,否則我們現在所得到的結論,仍難逃臆測的本質。既然如此,行文語氣就應該客氣一點,唯我獨尊,把其他學者辛苦的研究成果都看得不值一哂,並非應有的治學態度。

作者謝學欽是福建人,看得出對家鄉感情深厚,可能因此影響了他對李清照晚年行蹤的看法。趙明誠兩位兄長存誠、思誠均南遷福建,他們的母親郭夫人也移葬當地,但在沒有確鑿文獻記載的情況下,能否就此斷定李清照終老閩鄉?作者經常批評前賢的考證不夠精細,缺失甚多,但他舉出趙明誠有子在福建依附伯父,卻只舉了一兩條資料,而且某些古文句子的句讀,也可能造成理解偏差。他為何那樣武斷,全盤推翻多年來趙明誠無嗣的說法?

從書中廣徵博引的文獻來看,作者的古典文學修養甚深,令人敬佩。他經常不厭其煩的說明某篇文章、某首詩、某闋詞(不一定是易安居士的作品)的來歷、當時宋金和戰的情勢,讀者得益甚多,只嫌枝蔓太廣,易失焦點。他又把易安居士的作品譯成白話文,甚至花上數頁篇幅來考證某個詞牌、某句詞的典故,鉅細無遺,頗有炫耀才學之嫌,嘮嘮叨叨,令人厭煩。有趣的是,作者在後記卻突然謙抑起來,不免令人猜疑那只是虛應故事而已。

此書取名《李清照正傳》,其實我早應該猜到作者「成一家之言」的志向了。

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

The Deadlock

Nothing seems timelier than studying the history of modern Japan when distrust between China and Japan has surged to new heights following the diplomatic wrestling over the Diaoyu Islands on East Sea.

While many blamed the United States for handing over the Diaoyu Islands to Japan rather than China in 1972, scant attention has been given to the deep-rooted intricacies that explained, at least to a certain extent, the delicate relations between China and Japan as demonstrated in the drama of Japan's detention of a Chinese fisherman last month.

The hostilities between China and Japan can find their roots way before the Second World War, or even the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894. In Hong Kong, predominance of histories written from the Chinese perspective pointing an accusing finger at Japanese imperialism is hardly surprising, if taken for granted. This is why James McClain's lucid narrative of modern Japan from a non-Chinese, albeit not really Japanese, point of view is such an eye-opener. Read this:

"The Japanese who pondered the fate of their nation as Western imperialism spread across Asia were not malicious individuals. They did not harbour any particular animosity toward fellow Asians, and no person in a position of authority concocted or endorsed any concrete plan calling for the acquisition of territory overseas or the economic domination of Asia. Collectively, however, men like Yamagata [Arimoto], Matsukata [Masayoshi], Fukuzawa [Yukichi] and Tokutomi [Soho] were developing a mentalite that countenanced imperialistic behaviour. By the early 1890s they and many of their countrymen, from the political right and left, both inside and outside government, had reached the same conclusion: The world was a dangerous place, Western imperialism and racist attitudes posed grave threats to Japanese independence, and their country was justified in contemplating action outside its national borders in order to preserve its national integrity. Seizing upon the rhetoric of expansionism that filled the air, they helped forge an emerging consensus that Japan must be assertive, must even victimise others, if it wished to avoid being victimised itself." (Japan: A Modern History, Chapter 9, page 295)

Of the prominent Japanese names mentioned in the quote above, Fukuzawa Yukichi, an educator and thinker whose portrait is printed on the 10,000 Japanese yen note, was perhaps the most influential of all. Millions of copies of his An Encouragement of Learning, written between 1872 and 1876, were reportedly sold in Japan. What was more intriguing, however, was On De-Asianisation published in 1885. Although it was not as widely circulated as An Encouragement of Learning, this short article seemed to have provided a strong philosophical base for the impending imperialism of Japan. For the reader today, it provides some insight into the underlying causes of Japanese scepticism toward China.

In this controversial essay, Fukuzawa criticised China and Korea as "old-fashioned autocracies without abiding laws" and whose gentlemen were "too deeply infatuated to know what science is". According to Fukuzawa, despite Japan's success in transforming itself into a "civilised" (by Western standards, of course) global player, it might still be misunderstood by the West as an inferior Asian nation because China and Korea, its long-time neighbours, failed to embrace Western civilisation and enlighten themselves. As a result, Fukuzawa concluded, "To plan our course now, therefore, our country cannot afford to wait for the enlightenment of our neighbours and to co-operate in building Asia up. Rather, we should leave their ranks to join the camp of the civilised countries of the West. Even when dealing with China and Korea, we need not have special scruples simply because they are our neighbours, but should behave towards them as the Westerners do. One who befriends an evil person cannot avoid being involved in his notoriety. In spirit, then, we break with our evil friends of Eastern Asia." (English translation by Hidehiro Okada in The Meiji Japan Through Contemporary Sources, Volume 3, page 133)

Although Fukuzawa's position on China and Korea remains a subject of debate (Mikiaki Ishikawa, an editor of Fukuzawa's works after his death, was blamed for inserting strongly discriminative comments about China and Korea and attributing them to Fukuzawa), the criticism and contempt of China expressed in this short essay seem to hint at the negative views of China among the right-wing politicians and activists in Japan. If this is the case, it would be a deadlock only to be resolved by collective efforts of rectification. However, it would be an immense challenge for both China and Japan when the foundation of mutual trust and co-operation remains regrettably fragile.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

開學二記

轉眼已是九月底,開學差不多一個月了。

對於上課下課、泡圖書館的求學生活,並沒有絲毫不習慣。坐下來備課、溫習的時候,一顆心自然而然的平靜下來,感覺踏實了許多。即使窗外大雨滂沱、車聲轔轔,甚至施工的噪音此起彼落,尚能集中精神。

但是,開學的蜜月期早已無聲無息地結束了。唸書的日子,並沒有想像中的悠閒適意。以前唸本科時修課更多,但時間尚算充裕,下課後可以給中學生補習,還有餘暇看雜書、看電影、看戲曲。現在卻是每個星期要把四門課的指定文章讀完,也感到有點吃力,往往要犧牲周末的休息時間,才可勉強過關。易安之旅一晃眼已完成了三個月,遊記卻是隻字未寫。開課前,本來期望把這些年來給蹧蹋得七零八落的生活節奏重新調整,讓日子過得規律一點、適意一點、平衡一點,就像之前在內地旅行時一樣。可是三個星期下來,腦袋還是一片混沌,應付功課之餘,已經騰不出精神來給生活好好綢繆。生活的節奏依舊一片紊亂,身體的警號一次比一次響亮。白天上課的時候,總是沒精打采;晚上卻思潮起伏,直至凌晨兩點仍然毫無睡意。因為沒有足夠時間做運動,索性以走路代替,但沿新亞路從學校本部爬上山頂,沒走到一半,一顆心已是三步急兩步慢不規則地亂跳。有生以來,從未試過這樣。

這幾天心情愈來愈煩躁,開課時的興高采烈,早被焦慮不安所吞噬。像錢塘江大潮般洶湧的壓迫感,驀然襲上心頭。

這種焦慮,我知道,源於時不予我的壓迫感。每上一堂課,每讀一章書,總覺得自己所學少得可憐,忍不住不斷的質問自己,這些年到底在做些甚麼。即便是仗著小時候記心好,記得一些知識,仍只是停留在資料庫的階段,距離通古今之變,成一家之言,還差得很遠很遠。眼看身邊的同學比自己年輕一大截,已經在唸哲學碩士、甚至博士,雖有鞭策自己痛下苦功的動力,但捫心自問,仍難免惴惴不安。畢竟年紀漸大,思慮就多。明知道是杞人憂天自尋煩惱,卻始終放不下心裡一塊石:自己起步那麼晚,還能做得出成績嗎?雖說學無前後,達者為先,但誰敢保證自己能夠成為「達人」?這跟信心沒關係,而是有太多不可預知、無法控制的因素在內。

最難過的時候,甚至忍不住責備自己,當年為甚麼要拒絕老師的邀請,沒有繼續唸碩士,而要繞那麼一大個圈子,跑了那許多冤枉路。當然,理智告訴我,歷史沒有如果。雖說在工作上沒有絲毫滿足感,但那始終是生活所依,何況你情我願,一手交錢一手交貨,誰也不虧欠誰,其實也不應該抱怨甚麼。只是因為實在急得慌了,憋不住了,才向自己發脾氣。

臨老進學堂,當然不只是為了興趣那麼簡單,否則也不用壯士斷臂。當日破釜沉舟,坦白說,就是抱著不勝無歸的決心,希望盡我所能,實現一個閒置多年而始終撲不滅的夢想。謀事在人、成事在天,隨遇而安這些老話,誰都會說,但關心則亂,利害攸關,事到臨頭要用理智克服感情,也不是那麼容易的。

Friday, 10 September 2010

開學記

終於如願以償,重返校園修讀歷史。

第一天上課,特地提早回學校圖書館淘書去,也要把小半章沒看完的日本現代史課文讀完。

走進大學圖書館,心情有點莫名的興奮,好像重回寶山一樣,一件件寶物琳瑯滿目,恨不得全都吞進肚子裡去。忽地想起《雪山飛狐》裡那一大幫見利忘義的流氓,走進大雪山藏寶洞之後眼紅心熱,大概我也是差不多光景,只差不必殺人奪寶而已。

有些朋友說我讀書用功,實在是太恭維了。這根本不叫「用功」,應該叫「貪心」才對。在我看來,書本就像錢財一樣,愈多愈好。即使明知貪多嚼不爛,還是覺得能啃多少是多少,反正撐不死人。有些人見了財寶就眼紅,我是見了書本就會興奮得磨拳擦掌、抓耳搔腮,好像撿到金銀珠寶一樣,真是莫名其妙。

因為無遠弗屆的互聯網,現在每個課程都設有獨立的網頁,詳細列出每周課堂的提綱和參考書目,甚至有老師把參考文章直接上載。不少印刷書籍也設有電子版,方便借閱。這樣做不但非常環保,省卻不少紙張,而且可以經常更新資料,對於在校時間有限的兼讀學生尤其便利。

對於久睽校園的我,這實在是翻天覆地的轉變。不過,這似乎也稍微剝奪了淘書的樂趣。以我的經驗,求學之樂,在於一個「淘」字。老師發出來的參考書目,只是一個指導方向,若是可以多花一點時間泡在圖書館淘書,往往可以發現更多、更精彩的東西。淘書就像淘金一樣,往往要經過披沙鑠石的水磨功夫,才會找到價值連城的寶貝。無論淘到淘不到,當中的喜怒哀樂都發自肺腑,日後就是學習過程中親暱而窩心的記憶,一份難以磨滅的情懷。若是幾經艱辛才淘到一本好書,讀起來自然分外珍惜,印象也特別深刻。要是一切唾手可得,誰會稀罕?

事隔多年重回校園,人和事都改變了不少,甚是感慨。校園裡到處大興土木,有很多新蓋的教學樓,我還是第一次聽說。例如以前學校正門附近的李達三樓,現在已拆卸改建為更高更大的西部教學大樓;從火車站上山的行車道旁,以前有幾座五六層高、名為「松苑」和「柏苑」的員工宿舍,現已拆卸,正在興建不知學生宿舍還是教學樓。就連火車站外的巴士站旁,也聳立了一座簇新的教學樓,還有一幢供酒店管理學生實習的凱悅酒店。

校園裡另一個觸目所見的特色,就是內地和海外學生也比以前明顯增加。在圖書館、飯堂和校巴上,聽見普通話交談的聲音,竟然比廣東話還要多。在我的全日制同學之中,來自內地的就超過一半,本地同學卻是很少碰見,連出席迎新會的也沒幾個。

縱目看去,全日制的同學大都是剛畢業後直接報讀,或者工作了三數年後決定再進修的,似乎未滿三十歲。明知道自己年紀不算小,卻沒想到竟然有機會問鼎全班最老的全日制學生。

去旁聽本科生的課時,坐在身旁的同學年紀更小,很可能是九十年代出生的小伙子。想當年自己入學做本科生時,他們都是出生不久的小不點,心裡總有點說不出來的滋味。本來學無前後,達者為先,不同年紀的人一起上課,沒甚麼大不了,但我坐在他們中間,總有一點格格不入的感覺,可能是自我意識太強的心理作用,也可能是彼此的差異實在太明顯了,時時刻刻以不同程度的cultural shock來「歡迎」我。

午後上課,飯氣攻心打個盹兒人人都會,我也不能例外,但明目張膽地坐在第一排而脫掉眼鏡趴在桌上呼呼大睡者,我還是第一次看見。睡醒以後大剌剌地走出課室上廁所、去買飲品,然後若無其事地回來繼續「hea」,實在令人側目。至於竊竊私語、不停地打手機短訊,已經不在話下了。據說還有人見過同學公然在課室親嘴,看來我這老冬烘真是孤陋寡聞了。

也許有人會問,人家做甚麼關你屁事?當然關我的事啦,因為我要不停地挪動椅子讓路,還要臨急抱佛腳練習老頑童的左右互搏,閉上一隻耳朵,以免聽到他們幾時跟誰誰誰去哪裡吃喝玩兒諸如此類。雖然我還不至於耳聾目瞶,但到了這把年紀聽課之餘,還要分神做這些高難度動作,實在吃力得很哪。

看來我還是要調整心態,學習怎樣適應這個愈來愈陌生的年代。不是責怪自己臨老上學堂,也不是嫉妒人家青春無限,而是深深感受到時不予我的窘迫和焦慮。不禁捫心自問,這些年自己到底做過些甚麼?成就了甚麼?人生到此,應該何去何從?

Sunday, 29 August 2010

夏商有鑒當深戒

據新聞報道,約八萬名香港市民參加了今天的遊行,悼念上星期一在馬尼拉遇害的香港遊客。我也參加了。

在維多利亞公園等了一小時,才可以離開公園,正式開始遊行。今天颱風逼近,天氣十分悶熱,猶幸沒有中暑。約一小時便行畢全程,在中環遮打花園繫上黃絲帶,然後回家。

這是我平生第一次參加遊行。

因為痛心、因為在意、因為意難平,所以參加。

痛心,因為一家老少開開心心放暑假去旅行,突然變成了孤兒寡婦。在意,因為他們是香港人,是他也是你和我。意難平,因為他們本來可能有機會逃出生天,卻被拙劣、愚笨、無能的菲律賓警察連累,落得家破人亡,死不瞑目。至於事後總統和政府高層那些不負責任、冷漠無情的諉過之言,已經不用計較了。

當大多數人為菲律賓當局營救失當而憤慨不已,也有少許憤青把矛頭指向在香港打工的菲籍傭工。至今已有兩宗無故辭退傭工的個案,另有一人在巴士上被人吐口水洩憤。

我最鄙視那些歧視、虐待弱者的懦夫。他們的行為未必犯法,本質上卻與脅持人質的槍手何異?要討回公道,就找元兇首惡去;拿無辜的老弱婦孺出氣,算哪門子的英雄好漢?

更何況,數十萬菲籍傭工離鄉背井,做的大都是粗活,掙取不算豐厚的薪水養家活口,竟成為菲律賓最重要的外匯收入來源。這個國家到底有多糟糕,可以想見。可嘆的是,菲律賓近年經濟其實不錯,每年國內生產總值的增幅尚算可觀,但仍有三分之一的人口活在貧窮線下。大家不禁要問:錢到哪裡去了?為甚麼政府連警察的薪水也付不出?為甚麼那麼多人仍然貧困?

我不熟悉菲律賓的情況,但據新聞報道,幾乎可以肯定貪污腐敗是其中一個造成各種社會問題的主要原因。據稱傭工在國外幹粗活,收入比大學教授還要高。如果這個說法屬實,菲律賓人之拮据,可見一斑。要是貪污猖獗至此,就不難明白為甚麼負責拯救人質的警察裝備如此缺乏、訓練如此拙劣,救援人員如此畏首畏尾、貪生怕死。

老實說,要求一個被貪腐侵蝕的政府徹查真相,追究責任,本來就是緣木求魚。貪腐的本質是甚麼?就是貪婪,就是利益凌駕於法律和公義,就是為了利益,不惜枉法求全,保護或撈取更多利益。

所以貪腐橫行,就沒有責任和公義。因此,反腐倡廉不是虛無縹緲的道德高地,而是關乎人類福祉的基本問題。反腐倡廉,在於克制人性的貪欲,弘揚人性中善良、惻隱、急公好義的本質。歸根究柢,還是需要從教育著手,但體制上的監察和制衡措施也不可缺少。因為無論教育有多完善,總會有一些無法抑制貪欲或抵抗引誘的人。體制上的監察和制衡措施,就是給這些意志力薄弱的人加設一道防護網,時刻提醒他們犯錯的後果。

菲律賓看似遙遠和落後,但貪腐問題在哪裡的本質都是一樣的。當我們痛斥菲律賓政府和警察的無能,有沒有想過箇中的原因?貪腐真的只是他們國家的問題嗎?我們真的可以肯定,貪腐不會在香港死灰復燃嗎?我們真的有能力長期控制自己的貪欲嗎?

更應該問的是:為甚麼當地的民主政治體制,不能遏止社會各階層的貪污腐敗?是體制不夠完善?還是別有隱情?

記得香港有些人把一切社會問題歸咎於香港畸型的政治體制,認為只要一人一票選舉立法會和行政長官,問題就會迎刃而解。看到菲律賓多年來也無法解決的貪腐問題,在民主體制下繼續滋長,不禁要問:那些人是否太天真、太迷信了?

趙太太說得好:「夏商有鑒當深戒,簡策汗青今具在。」八月二十三日在馬尼拉發生的悲劇,除了讓我們感悟生命的脆弱、公義的可貴,更應該警惕我們反腐倡廉的重要。

Thursday, 26 August 2010

What a Nation

Three days have passed since the bloodbath of the Hong Kong tourists taken hostage in the Philippines by a former police officer demanding reinstatement. All victims and most of the injured were brought back to Hong Kong last night. Before seven o'clock tonight Jason Leung, the 18-year-old son of Mrs Leung, who lost her husband and two daughters in the horror, returned to Hong Kong and was immediately hospitalised for further treatment. He has been accompanied by his heart-broken mother all along.

May God have mercy on the young man and his mother, as well as all those who have been affected by this tragedy. Get well soon, Jason! Millions of fellow citizens are praying for you and looking forward to seeing you walking out of the hospital with your mother.

When people continue to criticise the Philippine government of the appalling rescue operations, some legislators have jumped on the bandwagon demanding the Hong Kong government to put pressure on the Philippines to conduct a fair and thorough investigation into the case. Of course we all want the full details of the case and justice for the victims, but we must not forget that Hong Kong is only a Chinese enclave that has no diplomatic rights. Demanding a role in the Philippine government's investigation can be seen as an intervention into its sovereignty and is doomed to be rejected. International laws and relations are not at our discretion. We have to respect rules of the game even when we are in despair and dismay. The reality is not going to change for our sake but we can sort out ways to work around when times may not always be on our side.

Opening the coroner's court is certainly one of the few things we can do. As Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee has told the Legislative Council today, a magistrate of the coroner's court has demanded an autopsy of all the victims. The findings thereof should be able to answer some of the key questions many of us have in mind.

Attacks on the Filipino nation were renewed when pictures of Filipino police officers and students smiling cheerfully and taking photos in front of the tourist coach, as well as opening the coffins for reporters to take pictures of the victims inside, were widely circulated. No doubt these would only add fuel to the boiling anger of Hong Kong people. Some radical remarks about the nation are, therefore, by no means surprising.

To me, it all reinforces the fact that ignorance and naivety is really hard to forgive at times. Having dealt with Filipinos at work on a number of occasions, I strongly believe that none of those people in the pictures meant to be rude and disrespectful. They probably just DO NOT KNOW what they did was offensive to someone else. They were just trying to take a picture in front of something big and striking that will go into history. They were just trying to help the reporters do their job. What they did probably happen in the Philippines from time to time, but for outsiders like us, those behaviours were simply disgusting and outrageous.

The more I read about the tragedy, the more I wonder what kind of a nation the Philippines is. From the identity and demands of the hostage taker to the poorly coordinated rescue operations and the response of the Philippine government after the bloodshed, too many have been told about the problems the nation has been facing.

It is not the first time for someone with grievances in the Philippines to take hostage to attract attention from the media and the authorities. In this incident, both the hostage taker and his family said he had no choice but to make himself heard in such a manner. If what they said were true, what kind of a nation it is when the authorities are not trusted and law and order being neglected at all? How many more human lives will have to be put at stake and sacrificed before the problems would be addressed?

Corruption is notoriously rampant in the country, but only in this incident did we know that the police are not even properly paid. Some reports said this is why the police have to exert bribes to make their ends meet. Insufficient equipment and poor training can only be the next consequences of financial problems in the government. But where has the money gone when the local economy saw an unexpected boom of 7.3% in the first quarter of 2010? Not to forget that the Philippines is the fourth largest economy in Southeast Asia and has seen remarkable GDP growth at least since 2006.

For those who are not sophisticated enough to realise that taking pictures cheerfully in front of the wreck of the coach and opened coffins are extremely improper and offensive, I wonder what kind of education is in place. Living in harsh conditions certainly needs extraordinary optimism, but it does not justify any neglect of sense and sensitivity.

What a nation it is for the genuinely kind and joyful people to keep smiling at the long-lasting hardship and poverty? What a nation it is for those people to endure corruption and incompetence for so many years and yet the eradication of the deep-rooted problems still remains invisible? What a nation it is to have so many contradictions in human nature and social development for so many years?

Let me be absolutely clear: I do not have any answer to these questions and the manner they were raised above does not imply any presupposition. Perhaps there is some truth in an open letter by a Filipino teenager that his country "is now in a sea of problems" to which a strong address is urgently required.

Monday, 23 August 2010

What a Black Day

At least seven Hong Kong tourists who were held hostage on a coach in Manila today died in the horrible bloodshed that drew the curtains of the 11-hour drama. Two others were seriously injured and are still struggling to survive. Some seniors and children were released earlier the day, however.

Tonight there were heavy downpours in Hong Kong as if God were weeping.

May God have mercy on the victims and their families.

May I ask the media to respect the victims and their families at such a hard time and stop harassing them for stories? Notwithstanding the low chance of disgusting pictures on the front pages, I would like to call on newspaper editors to think twice before they decide which photos to be published.

May I also ask those who criticise how incompetent the Filipino police had been to stop talking and pointing fingers? What really matters is the well-being of the victims and their families. They need help and prayers and we should spare no time to give a hand.

It had been a sad day for all of us. But it is by no means any excuse for more abuse.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

The Tyranny of Public Opinion

Since coming home, I have been confronted with an overload of news, which is more alarming and worrisome than ever. Notwithstanding the potential uproar, it is hard to resist the temptation of highlighting the signs of an emerging tyranny of public opinion.

The public uproar against the court case of Amina Mariam Bokhary is a vivid example of this worrisome trend. As many of us take pride in the judiciary independence in Hong Kong, more of us seem to have taken it for granted and thus, don't even know what it truly means. By definition, judiciary independence means the court should be insulated not only from the executive and legislative powers of the government but also from the improper influence of private and partisan interests. Understandably the public uproar against the verdict of Ms Bokhary, who has committed the same offence for the third time, stems from suspicions of bias and inclination towards the rich and powerful. But the key question is: how certain are we that our self-proclaimed justice is based on ration and impartial judgement rather than a brewing (or boiling in fact) hostility towards the rich and powerful?

Law is a profession that undertakes rigorous training and highest possible integrity, which forms the base of its credibility and public trust as a self-governed profession. Since most of us have not been trained in law schools, we trust that properly trained and qualified lawyers and judges would carry out their duties in a strictly defined professional manner. We do not necessarily have the knowledge or capability to verify so we have to believe in the professionals' goodwill and professionalism.

What we can see from Ms Bokhary's case, however, is the lack of trust in the professionalism and independence of the magistrate. When the verdict does not meet public expectation, a blast of opinions in the media and on the internet is hardly surprising. But we can't jump to the conclusion (which is not much than a contagious speculation) that the magistrate is biased towards the well-established elite families and therefore the verdict has to be overthrown. Such a public view should have been confined to the press, blogs, Facebook and other forms of interpersonal exchanges. But it was incited, magnified and "formalised" into a political interference into the judiciary independence, which, following a political decision by Secretary for Justice, eventually led to a judicial review of the case.

Notwithstanding the outcome of the judicial review, the emerging trend that public opinion prevails is truly alarming and intriguing. Public opinion is often emotional, impulsive and irresponsible. It can be easily distorted, manipulated and exploited. How can we ensure the so-called public opinion is more impartial, fair and rational than a verdict by rigorously trained professionals?

The root cause of this unfortunate distrust and scepticism of professionals, in my opinion, stems from the suffocating frustrations that began accumulating since the financial crisis in 1998. The incompetence of the post-1997 administrations in maintaining a respectable standard of living for the local people only proves to fuel the resentment. Looking at economic indices such as Gini coefficient, purchasing power parity and the proportion of low-income families, one does not need a doctoral degree in economics to realise the dwindling standard of living in Hong Kong. When everyone's livelihood is at stake and no effective solution has been visible, it is hardly surprising to see anger and frustrations being transformed into hostility towards the better-off. Yet not many of us seem to remember that this is an extremely dangerous ground that had groomed absolutism and Nazism.

This is why I think the distrust and scepticism of the professionals is alarming. If we allow it to spread further and internalise, are we ready for the consequence, the demise of judiciary independence? Does it mean we will overtake the court and judge by public opinion? If so, how do we ensure it is a consensus of seven million residents in the city? Are we ready to have a vote or referendum on every single court case?

Where freedom of speech rather than rationality and sense seems to be hailed and worshipped like almighty gods in any religion, I can't help wondering how capable its people are in finding the right way in the labyrinth of our arbitrariness, complacence and prejudice.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

So Sick

Hard to believe this blog hasn't been updated for almost two months. Even harder to believe what happened over the past two months now seem a century old.

In the second week of June I embarked on a longed trip to China, trying to trace the footsteps of my favourite writer who lived nearly a millennium ago. Having witnessed how much China has transformed over the past two decades on various occasions, I didn't really have much expectation about the trip. To tell the truth, I was more anxious than excited, praying for little disappointment when I was on my own.

The trip was completed pretty much as planned, although disappointments are inevitable. Having been on the road all these years it seems more and more difficult to get excited in a trip: not for the unpleasant being seen and experienced, but the absence of nice, heart-warming surprises.

The worse was yet to come, however. Just days after returning home, I was plunged into an abyss of confusion and nonsense. How disgusting it was to see the glory-hungry politicians and opportunists feed themselves by sucking the blood of their prey. How frustrating it was to see high respect and great reputation evaporated almost overnight as a result of not only external exposure but internal decay. Worse still, how irritating it was to see so many companies with serious problems still survive in the market as if poor management is the common practice rather than an unwelcome exception.

By pulling myself into this so-called crisis the balanced pace of life was ruthlessly disrupted. The energy and good spirits built up during the month-long trip was drained away within days. The brain had no more room for Korean study and my grades this term have been unforgiveable. It has been quite some time since I crept out of the swirl but the physical and mental recovery is still half the way.

How much I regret my giving in and endurance of such sheer exploitation. How much I hate myself when it felt so difficult to say the two-letter word earlier.

Only the scent of books in the library and the colourful campus under the bright sky and glittering sunbeam could provide some meaningful consolation.

Monday, 7 June 2010

《打擂台》

昨天早上看了《打擂台》,果然名不虛傳,妙趣橫生,看得很愜意。

陳觀泰、梁小龍、陳惠敏、泰迪羅賓、邵音音等,自小已是熟悉的名字,雖然近年仍活躍於銀幕,但大多是客串性質,戲份不多,發揮更談不上。這次由他們擔綱演出,喜劇效果令人驚喜,端的是寶刀未老。其中最出色的是泰迪羅賓,飾演昏迷三十年後甦醒的老拳師,詼諧惹笑,活力十足,彷彿晦暗的老茶樓和後巷,也一下子顯得亮麗起來。幾位慣演配角的前輩如羅莽、顧冠忠、陳勉良、許思敏、梁雄(最後兩位的名字感謝工作人員提供)等,戲份不多,但仍然亮眼。

譚炳文的配音絕對是神來之筆,語氣極盡調侃之能事。地道新興「潮語」由他看似漫不經心的娓娓道來,更覺趣味澎湃。最後他刻意用英語唸出全片的主題,字正腔圓,七分嘲弄戲謔之中,又帶三分語重心長,功力之深湛,令人佩服。不禁又想,外地聽不懂粵語的觀眾,只憑配音或字幕,能夠領略多少箇中深長雋永的趣味?

新一代演員之中,以歐陽靖最為搶鏡,把某些年輕人急功近利、重包裝而輕實力的嘴臉演得淋漓盡致。反而黃又南、賈曉晨戲份雖多,發揮卻不及歐陽靖。

幾位年逾耳順的前輩在宣傳訪問中說過,《打擂台》不是懷舊電影,而是以懷舊作包裝的青春勵志片。但在我看來,戲中洋溢老香港的市井情懷,親切真摯,就如師徒之間三十年的恩情,無比珍貴。一句「看甚麼鳥?」雖云粗鄙,卻是最地道的俚語,由不可一世的拳師說出來,更無半分造作,總比彷彿漂白過的書面語來得有血有肉。戲裡的茶樓、拳腳功夫、街坊鄰里的友情,一看就知道是香港獨有的風味;只有在這裡長大,才會感到渾身雞皮疙瘩的親切和共鳴。

《打擂台》絕對是復興香港電影特色的成功嘗試,無論是否香港人,也應該買票支持。期待更多充滿香港特色的電影,不要被經濟效益牽著鼻子走。畢竟在全球化的環境下,擇善固執、保留本身的特色,才是長久致勝之道。邯鄲學步的教訓,二千多年前莊子已經說得很清楚了。

Sunday, 6 June 2010

土瓜灣訪古(六)

九龍寨城公園面積很大,基本上是個花木幽深的庭園,除南門遺蹟外,尚保存了清代大鵬協府及九龍巡檢司衙署的官衙,以及嘉慶七年(一八零二年)鑄造的大炮兩尊。

官衙原是青磚及花崗石建造的中國傳統建築,但門楣上寫著斗大的英文字「Almshouse」,原來以前曾是收容貧民、無依婦孺和老人的慈善會所。現在官衙已改為介紹九龍寨城歷史的展覽館,內藏記載九龍寨城建造始末的文書、咸豐九年(一八五九年)張玉堂拳書「壽」及「墨緣」真蹟、記載光緒十二年(一八八六年)士兵出差糧餉開支的「刊刻會議」石碑等數十件文物。

天色向晚,差不多五點半了,才離開寨城公園,沿賈炳達道西行,至聯合道轉右折而向北,直走到東頭村道口,就看見對面馬路上有一堵磚牆,牆上掛有金光燦爛的四個大字「侯王古廟」。這裡就是供奉相傳為南宋末帝楊太后之弟楊亮節的侯王廟了。

其實在香港,很多地方都建有「侯王廟」,據說都是供奉楊亮節的,可見他保護宋末二帝南逃的忠義功勳,如何令人動容。也許,以前的香港人和現在的沒有甚麼分別,總是喜歡感情用事,只要看到一些義舉和孝行,總是感動得一塌糊塗,然後大張旗鼓的大肆表揚,愈濫情愈高興。

可惜到達時已經太晚,廟宇已經關門,只能在外面仰視一回,聊作紀念,然後才返回聯合道乘車回家。

耽誤了行程,只因為在寨城公園漫無目的地游弋徘徊,細看在衙門和迴廊上展覽的文物和圖片。回想從土瓜灣一路走來,沿途見到的古物和遺址,愈發感慨香港滄海桑田之變,同時也慚愧自己對這個土生土長的家,認識還不夠深。

可惜香港發展迅速,多年來也不太重視保存古物古蹟,除了香港島靠近英國管治中心的地區,殖民地色彩濃厚的古蹟保存較好外,九龍、新界的古蹟,十不存一,最多的仍是廟宇一類的宗教場所,從中似乎也可窺見以前殖民地政府對本土文化的態度--只要涉及宗教,就會秉承宗教自由的原則予以保留,但其他具有歷史和社會意義的古蹟如學校、醫院,甚至富有特色的民居,卻往往借發展之名掃蕩無餘。以我最喜歡的宋代為例,現存香港的古蹟,以土瓜灣、九龍城一帶較多,但也只有宋皇臺、侯王廟等寥寥幾個,還有已經移入歷史博物館的「食邑稅山」界石。年代久遠,當然也是古蹟湮滅的原因之一,但以前居民教育水平低下,政府保育意識不高,也是實情。

其實香港早於六千多年前的新石器時代,已經有人居住,但始終遠離中原,人跡稀少,史書記載不多。直到唐代,在西方海岸設置屯門軍鎮,隸屬安南都護府,才算真正名留史冊,「屯門」之名也沿用至今。五代南漢後主劉鋹,在大埔吐露港一帶設置採珠場,募民徒手潛海採珠,名曰「媚川都」。雖然收穫甚豐,卻導致無數居民溺死,連宋代筆記《澠水燕談錄》也有記載。宋代曾嚴令禁止,至元代又故態復萌。宋代與香港淵源較深,除了因為土瓜灣曾為末代兩位孩兒皇帝駐蹕之地,更因為九龍城至今日觀塘一帶,是宋代官辦鹽場所在,稱為「官富場」。所以小時候曾看見小型巴士的顯示牌多把「觀塘」寫成「官塘」,相信就是沿用古名,即「官辦鹽塘」所在是也。地鐵於一九七九年落成通車之後,其中一站稱為「觀塘」,「官塘」的寫法就逐漸被淘汰了。以前九龍還有老虎岩【註一】、官涌【註二】等地名,也是因為地鐵開通之後,陸續改為「樂富」、「佐敦」,舊名遂逐漸被遺忘。

這些年來,被遺忘的,又豈止地名?

註一:相傳因山上有老虎而得名。

註二:因為以前此處有小河經山谷入海而得名,清廷曾設炮台於此抵禦英軍。「涌」乃南粵方言,意即河汊,香港不少地名均有「涌」字,如鰂魚涌、葵涌等。

土瓜灣訪古(五)

在著名的清真牛肉館龍崗道總店打尖休息以後,向北直走,來到賈炳達道公園。這個公園與寨城公園相連,面臨賈炳達道的一帶是設備齊全的兒童遊樂場,連市區少見的單車場也有。

繞過單車場,就是寨城公園的正門--南門。

公園的南門,與寨城原來的南門並非同一位置,但相距只是數十步。進南門後,就看到《九龍寨城公園碑記》。文章半文半白,詞藻稍有不及《九龍宋皇臺遺址碑記》,但作為歷史文獻,仍是值得一讀。

進園後右轉,沒多遠便是九龍寨城原有的南門遺址。城門遺址深藏地下數米,現在以青磚圍繞,北側寫著「南門懷古」四字。原來公園附庸風雅,巧立「寨城八景」的名目,「南門懷古」正是其中之一。

據資料介紹,一九九四年清拆九龍寨城範圍內的房屋時,在地下發現寨城原有的南門遺址,花崗石匾額、路板毀棄一旁,還有一堆近代建築物的鋼筋水泥殘片。寫著「九龍寨城」的橫匾,清楚記載九龍寨城於「道光二十七年季春月穀旦」落成,由「廣東巡撫部院黃--太子少保兩廣閣督部堂宗室耆、廣東全省水師提督軍門呼爾察圖巴魯圖賴」負責建造。道光二十七年,即公元一八四七年,當時香港島已割讓予英國,九龍寨城明顯是為了加強海防而建。

一八九八年,清廷與英國簽訂《展拓香港界址專條》,租借新界及二百三十五個離島,為期九十九年,一九九七的問題因此而起。但當時清廷堅持對九龍寨城的管治權,繼續派官吏辦公。一八九九年,英國派兵佔領九龍城寨,趕走清廷官員,但又沒有接管寨城,以致荒廢,幾無人煙。直至抗日戰爭時,日軍拆除寨城的城牆,作為擴建啟德機場的材料,寨城遂有名無實。戰後香港人口急劇增加,不少居民湧入寨城所在建房居住,但由於寨城不受香港政府管治,遂逐漸淪為不法分子藏身之所的「三不管」地帶。

所謂「三不管」,就是指不受中國、英國和香港政府管治之意。小時候聽人家提起九龍寨城,總是把這三個字掛在嘴邊,彷彿寨城就是污穢與罪惡的代名詞。當時雖然不甚了了,但聽得多了,自然覺得寨城污煙瘴氣、神秘莫測,好像會有電影裡穿清裝的殭屍突然跳出來嚇人似的。所以從來沒有想過要到寨城裡看看,直至清拆後看了香港話劇團、香港中樂團、香港舞蹈團合作演出的音樂劇《城寨風情》,才勾起了一份好奇心。

長大以後,當然明白九龍寨城的來歷。令人好奇的是,為甚麼英國把清廷趕出寨城之後,沒有接管這個地方,而是任由它荒廢?戰後陸續有人遷入寨城範圍居住,當局又不肯像周邊地區那樣管治寨城,甚至沒有供水供電,以致陷入無政府狀態?九龍寨城從抵抗殖民霸權的堡壘,淪為被歷史遺棄的孤兒,到底是誰的過錯?

Friday, 4 June 2010

土瓜灣訪古(四)

《九龍宋皇臺遺址碑記》記載:「抑又聞之聖山之西南有『二王殿村』,以端宗偕弟衛王昺同次其地得名。其北有『金夫人墓』,相傳為楊太后女晉國公主先溺於水,至是鑄金身以葬者。」

若聖山原位於啟德機場客運大樓處,則其西南,正是北帝街一帶,也許就是二王殿村所在。從村名來看,或可印證前文提及「二王殿北帝廟」故址,正是位於北帝街近宋皇臺道附近。至於「金夫人墓」,又稱「晉國公主墓」,若位於二王殿村之北,則可能正是今日亞皆老街、馬頭涌道三角交界處附近。據蕭國健博士著《香港古代史》,晉國公主墓正是由於聖三一堂遷建而湮沒的。那就是說,亞皆老街臨近馬頭涌道、太子道東的球場一帶,以前可能是一片小山丘。

好奇心起,在網上找到一張據稱是聖三一堂於一九零五年落成後的照片,那個小山丘,相信就是以前晉國公主墓所在。可惜現在山丘完全被削去,半點痕跡也找不到了。

聖三一堂是香港聖公會東九龍教區的主堂,首建於一八九零年,就在聖山附近,一九零五年遷至亞皆老街,一九三七年再遷至現址,就在故址的旁邊。教堂採用中國傳統建築設計,掩映在大樹之間,甚是古樸幽雅,獲古物古蹟辦事處評為三級歷史建築。

出宋皇臺公園,橫過宋皇臺道、馬頭涌道後右轉向北直行,過富寧街,經聖三一堂和亞皆老街球場,穿過太子道東行人隧道,就是九龍城的外圍了。這一帶有九條南北貫通、整齊平行的街道連接太子道東與北端的賈炳達道,從東而西分別是打鼓嶺道、城南道、龍崗道、南角道、衙前塱道、侯王道、獅子石道和福佬村道。中間又有一條東西橫向的衙前圍道,把南北街道一分為二。賈炳達道以北,就是大名鼎鼎的九龍寨城,現已開闢為佔地三萬一千平方米的傳統園林式公園。

據說以前九龍寨城外有一條龍津石橋直通海邊,石橋的遺址在啟德機場範圍內,故址會否就是其中一條南北縱向的街道?抑或龍津古道早已湮沒了呢?

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Stop the Nonsense and Give Me Sense

Before I continue to write the last episodes of my visit to To Kwa Wan and Kowloon City, I can't help expressing my anger and frustration with my alma matar, which declined the student union's application to publicly display a statue of the Goddess of Democracy and related art objects.

Since I read the email last night, I haven't been able to figure out what on earth the university's administrative and planning committee members were thinking. All I can tell is that there is no better alternative than this high-sounding but hollow principle of "political neutrality" that can possibly justify its decision. The excuse of reaffirming "the principle of political neutrality" is embarrassing, ridiculous and unsound.

It is unsound because it is ridiculous. The university is meant to encourage and facilitate critical and logical thinking. Unfortunately in this case, however, the university has made a terrible mistake that can only show the contrary.

For one thing, the public display does not necessarily imply the institution is agreeable to the messages of the artworks. It is as simple as that. For another, public display only demonstrates the generosity and tolerance for any legitimate form of expression, which no university should refrain from doing.

Tell me then, how can public display of artworks can possibly undermine political neutrality?

I can't agree more with the question raised by the students in their rebuke, "If political neutrality is that important to the university, why does the vice-chancellor accept his appointment to the Chinese Political People's Consultative Conference?"

It is therefore ridiculous for the university to reject the application. The initiative to disseminate emails proactively to students, alumni and members of the council was such a stupid idea that it can only stir up even more discontent and opposition. I wonder why the public relations office would ever allow this to happen. Of course the management decision often overrides professional advice from the related functions, yet again it only reinforces my resolution to leave the industry at least for a reasonable time.

It is also embarrassing for alumni like me, who are still grateful for what we gained from the university, because it has made a really bad and stupid decision that makes all of us look like an idiot.

Can someone stop the nonsense and start talking sense please?

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

土瓜灣訪古(三)

沿馬頭角道西行,過九龍城道、炮仗街,就來到北帝街。據蕭國健博士《香港市區文化之旅》記載,以前北帝街北端近啟德機場處,有一座「二王殿北帝廟」。「二王」是指南宋末年逃到香港的孩兒皇帝趙昰和趙昺,而二王殿北帝廟所在,正是他們當年駐蹕之處。該廟建於清乾隆二十一年(公元一七五六年),直至香港淪陷於日軍時被拆毀。廟內乾隆年間鑄成的銅鐘,則移至大嶼山羌山觀音殿供奉。

如今北帝街住宅林立,新舊都有,北端近啟德機場處屢經改建,已是新型住宅的地段了。

北帝街盡處的橫向馬路,便是宋皇臺道。西側近馬頭涌道處,就是宋皇臺公園。據說以前那是一個小山丘,因相傳乃宋末二帝行宮所在,故稱「聖山」;直至抗日戰爭時才被炸毀。清嘉慶年間「宋王臺」三字的銘文則保留至今,放在公園內供人憑弔。不過,聖山原址在啟德機場客運大樓,距宋皇臺公園約三百米。【註】

自小聽慣了宋皇臺的故事,可是一直沒有到公園內仔細參觀。公園面積不大,但不知是否心理作用,總覺得有點肅穆之感。公園正門有四根柱子,頗有紫禁城外天安門前華表的味道。

進得園來,左右兩邊各有一塊石碑,右邊是一九五九年勒石的《九龍宋皇臺遺址碑記》,左邊則是英文譯本。公園中央有一個十二角形的噴水池,最後才是宋皇臺石刻。

細心的讀者看到這裡也許會問:到底是「宋王臺」還是「宋皇臺」?《碑記》有云:「石刻宜稱『皇』,其作『王』,寔沿元修《宋史》之謬,於〈本紀〉附『二王』,致誤今名。是園曰『宋皇臺公園』,園前大道曰『宋皇臺道』,皆作『皇』,正名也。」

《碑記》乃香港趙族宗親總會刊行,香港政府立石。從《碑記》所載看來,以前政府也算從善如流。《碑記》撰者為簡又文,書者趙超,記載翔實,行文簡練,也是一篇難得的好文章。哪天有空定要鈔錄一份存檔。

註:《碑記》云「三百尺」,考之地圖,今日之三百公尺庶幾近之,非三百英呎也。

土瓜灣訪古(二)

從順風街離開海心公園,左轉入旭日街,至落山道右轉直行,過土瓜灣道、長寧街,便到下鄉道。遠遠聽見鑼鈸喧天,好像有人舞獅,走近一看,才知道那是天后古廟的慶祝活動。凝神一看,海心龍母廟就在天后古廟左邊。天后古廟門上匾額的小字註明是清末光緒年間建造的,但這裡是否原址,抑或經過搬遷,那就不得而知了。

沿下鄉道北行,一路上頗多唐樓,街上兩旁大都是汽車維修店、五金店等,星期天顯得分外寧靜。

來到上鄉道右轉,返回土瓜灣道繼續北行,馬路東側就是偉恆昌新村。小時候聽說有同學住在這裡,但一直不知道具體地址。後來才知道那裡原是偉恆紗廠所在,紗廠拆卸後改建為住宅小區。

在偉恆昌新村後面不遠處,一排新型的摩天住宅拔地而起,與矮小方正的偉恆昌新村相映成趣。那當然是機場搬到赤鱲角之後才建成的,但見那一字排開萬夫莫敵的氣概,「屏風樓」之名實在再貼切不過。

在煤氣公司前左轉入新山道,行至九龍城道啟德隧道前右轉,就是馬頭角道,也就是牛棚藝術村所在。冒著暑熱曲曲折折的走了差不多一公里,就是想到牛棚藝術村看看,誰知道保安員說村內謝絕參觀,不禁心頭有氣。是誰整天價在高喊「公共空間」、「拒絕霸權」的口號?是誰侃侃而談「公共知識分子」與社會的互動?為甚麼扭盡六壬佔用公共資源的所謂「文化人」,說到自身利益的時候竟與富商巨賈的嘴臉沒兩樣?看來我對所謂「文化人」的偏見,倒不是全無道理。

土瓜灣訪古(一)

逛過了香港島的文物徑和舊城區,一直想看看九龍還有哪些市區的古蹟可以訪尋。印象中除了廟宇之外,古蹟著實不比香港島多。碰巧剛讀完蕭國健博士所著的《香港古代史》,記起土瓜灣、九龍城一帶是以前甚為發達的地區,於是趁著五月一日公眾假期,加上難得陽光燦爛的好天氣,乘巴士到土瓜灣、九龍城去逛逛。

從尖沙咀乘5C巴士到土瓜灣道近上鄉道、貴州街下車,途中經過北拱街、馬頭圍道交界處西側的北帝廟。沒想到一月底馬頭圍道塌樓的地方,就在北帝廟對面。那些驚心動魄的新聞片段和照片,至今歷歷在目。

在上鄉道口下了車,橫過土瓜灣道,沿貴州街東行到海濱,至景雲街右轉折而向南,沒多遠便是海心公園。縱目望去,左邊就是以前的九龍城碼頭,看似長堤的建築就是以前啟德機場的跑道,長堤後方遠處就是九龍灣;右邊則是紅磡。不少人在海邊垂釣,甚是閒適寫意。

海心公園所在,原是離岸不遠的一個小島,島上的魚尾石甚有名,石下有一座供奉龍母的海心廟。後來填海之後,把小島連接岸上,這一片土地則開闢為公園。現在只留下魚尾石和一方海心小亭供人憑弔,海心廟則遷往已變成內陸的下鄉道,與天后古廟毗鄰並立。岸邊的淺灘上仍是怪石嶙峋,甚有特色。

走到海心小亭,裡面有兩位年約六十歲的大姐和一位伯伯在聊天,還有一位坐在輪椅上的老婆婆。其中一位長頭髮的大姐興高采烈,告訴那伯伯以前怎樣從岸邊乘小艇到海心廟。原來那伯伯以前到過海心廟,數十年沒有再去,退休後想故地重遊,結果失望而回。

我見她說得在行,隨口問她以前的海心廟在哪兒,她就指著魚尾石說:「海心廟在魚尾石旁邊靠後的地方。」又告訴我以前岸邊有很多專賣海鮮小菜的大牌檔,十分熱鬧云云。我問她那是甚麼時候,她說:「大概是六零年代初罷?我只來過一次,是朋友帶我去拜神的。以前到海心廟要乘小艇,收費一角。」然後指著旭日街一排向海的樓房說:「以前這裡全是海,沒有房子,後來填了海才蓋起來的。」

海心小亭看來不算簇新,但好像也有翻修過。從亭裡一對刻在麻石上的聯句看來,大概是六、七十年代建造的。不過,那聯句讚美海心小島的景色,未免吹噓得過了分:「海心亭具西湖韻,魚尾石全此地靈」。「全此地靈」大概不假,但西湖風韻?維多利亞港哪有半點西湖的味道?不禁令人懷疑撰作者到底有沒有到過西湖。

漫步西營盤(五)

薄扶林道兩旁大都是四、五層高的舊樓房,頗有小時候的老香港氣氛。時至今日,香港島大概只剩下上環、西環一帶有這種氛圍了。九龍還好一點,在油麻地、旺角、土瓜灣、九龍城一帶仍有保存。

本想朝著皇后大道西走去,無意間看見對面馬路一幢修繕過的唐樓門口,掛著一副木刻楹聯,甚是醒目。好奇之下過去看看,只見鏤刻精美飾邊的木板寫著:「守先正恪言為善最樂,奉古人明訓和氣致祥」兩行金字。對仗工整,立意尤佳,淳和雅正,氣度不凡,誠為難得一見的傑作,不知是否出自業主手筆,實在值得一記。

再前行數十步,在皇后大道西、薄扶林道交界處又看到一幢形狀獨特的唐樓,圍牆上依稀留下以前跌打膏藥廣告畫的痕跡,甚是有趣。

唐樓對面一街之隔,便是俗稱「七號差館」的西區警署。警署範圍甚大,南接皇后大道西,北抵德輔道西。面向皇后大道西的,就是警察宿舍,不過看上去頗為殘舊,似乎已經廢棄不用了。

在皇后大道西左轉西行,一路上新舊住宅夾雜,氣氛甚是寧謐。步行約十分鐘,經過老牌教會學校聖類斯中學小學部校舍,便來到石塘咀菜市場。未到市場之前,就是電車終點站之一的屈地街。原來屈地街、皇后大道西交界處商住兩用的華明中心,便是昔日太平戲院所在。原來太平戲院就在石塘咀與西營盤的交界處,難怪成為以前風月中人的熱門娛樂場所。

時近黃昏,這一帶行人甚多,看來都是住在附近、外出買菜和購物的居民,人聲鼎沸,氣氛甚是熱鬧。眼見快餐店、茶餐廳、超級市場裡都擠滿了人,耳聽街坊高談闊論,與菲律賓女傭嘰哩呱啦的談笑聲吵成一片,彷彿一下子從湮遠寧靜的夢境重返人間,心裡竟好像有點失落,又有點不太適應。

回過神來,轉入屈地街,到德輔道西乘電車下中環,再乘地鐵回家。電車在德輔道緩緩東行,兩旁的舊樓房和小商店在眼前流過,好像快速回捲的電影片段一樣,要我在散場前重溫一遍,牢牢記住--因為,沒有人知道,眼前的一切,可以留存多久。

Monday, 31 May 2010

漫步西營盤(四)

過贊育醫院後繼續沿西邊街下山,就看見第二街街口有一座仍在使用的公共浴室,可說是見證香港公共衛生進步的「活文物」。早年香港中西區人口稠密,衛生欠佳,住宅內大多不設浴室和廁所,因此中上環一帶至今保留了一些廢棄了的地下公廁,但公共浴室甚是少見,仍在使用的更如鳳毛麟角。只是當局翻新時髹上了略帶暗灰的粉紅色,好像不新鮮的豬肉似的,難看之極,與周遭環境也格格不入--不禁再次令人懷疑當局的審美眼光。

在西邊街上徘徊,眼看新舊交融、華洋共處的建築物,細味香港百多年來的艱難歲月,不由得百感交集,欲語已忘言。

呆了一陣,上山返回高街繼續西行,不遠處便是建築在山坡高臺之上的明愛凌月仙幼稚園。此處原為意大利天主教會嘉諾撒仁愛會的寄宿學校,後來因疫症而停辦,改為孤兒院和托兒所,據說是嘉諾撒醫院的前身。抗日戰爭後擴建,一九四九年落成,後來明愛機構接手改辦幼稚園,六十多年前的建築保存至今。因為母校同是嘉諾撒仁愛會創辦,看到主樓上Canossian的字樣,感覺分外親切。

過幼稚園,只見一條曲折的道路蜿蜒上山,便是薄扶林道。轉入薄扶林道下山,拐了個彎,不遠處便是第三街西端。繼續下山來到第二街口,只見一幢唐樓,外牆印滿舊日跌打痔患醫師的廣告痕跡。更特別的是樓房邊角呈圓形,估計是由於路口呈三角形,為免樓房邊緣的尖鋒引起坊眾不滿,故而改為圓形,消弭可能引起衝突的棱角。依稀記得小時候在灣仔莊士敦道、灣仔道交界,油麻地佐敦道、彌敦道交界等地看到的舊樓,很多都把方角削圓,寧可傢具擺設稍有不便,也要顧及建築物對鄰里產生的觀感。

以前不理解為甚麼要把樓房設計成這樣,如今才明白真正上乘的風水,其實是為了促進人與自然環境、人與人之間的和諧協調,不應隨便斥為迷信而一概否定。試想想,如果自己每天推窗遠望,盡是奇形怪狀、棱角崢嶸的建築,像刀鋒劍刃那樣對準自己,心情會怎樣?

可是放眼望去,香港甚至亞洲其他大城市的建築愈來愈張揚跋扈、目中無人,標奇立異者無日無之,美其名為創意,骨子裡只是競奢爭豪的虛榮而已。「以人為本」早成企業管理陳腐空洞的口號,又有幾家真正付諸實行?以前的建築師不必侈談高尚,卻在尋常百姓家的細節中做到了。

漫步西營盤(三)

與「鬼屋」隔著東邊街左右相望的,還有一幢古色古香的磚砌建築,始建於一八九一年,原是華人精神病院,現已改為衛生署美沙酮戒毒所。

站在門外望去,只見裡面樹影婆娑、鬱鬱蒼蒼,甚是幽靜。本來想進去參觀,誰知有幾個膚色黝黑、身材瘦削的男子大剌剌地坐在通道中央一邊抽煙一邊高談闊論,看樣子卻不像工作人員。我站在門外打量了一會兒,竟被他們瞧得心中惴惴,還是站在外面拍個照算了。

耐人尋味的是,為甚麼香港開埠之初,精神病院要設在華人聚居的西環一帶?為甚麼要分開收容華洋病人?

沿高街往西走,兩旁路上多是舊式住宅,其中一幢設有寬闊的露台,窗櫺上的裝飾甚是美觀。仔細看去,屋頂上圓拱形的雕飾竟然只剩下一半,想是當年業主分家,把另一半賣掉之後拆卸,重建為旁邊的新式大廈。那半幢房子,就像古典小說裡指腹為婚的才子佳人一樣,各執半塊玉珮,孤伶伶地流落江湖,不知哪天才能與另一半合浦珠還。

沿高街走到西邊街,赫然看見救恩學校旁邊有一座古老的教堂,「救恩堂」三字和屋頂上的十字架金光燦然,與斑駁纍纍的教堂牆身和階梯形成強烈對比。教堂沒有開放,但仔細看看門前的碑記,可知教堂是一九三二年重建的。

在西邊街右轉下山,來到第三街,便是贊育醫院舊址,現已改建為西區社區中心。醫院是磚砌的典型西式建築,正門面向西邊街,門楹和左右支柱均以大麻石砌成,上有尖頂,一副楹聯「好生之謂德,保赤以為懷」至今仍繫於正門兩側。

西洋建築加上中國傳統的楹聯,正是香港華洋雜處、東西融匯的寫照。不過,這份求同存異、相安無事的胸懷,近年已消失殆盡。更可悲的是,學貫中西的人愈來愈少,中國傳統文化固然淪為予取予攜的「創意元素」,用來吸引外國遊客的奇技淫巧;對西方文化的認識也多停留於技術、應用層面,至於較深入的歷史與哲學脈絡,卻少為人注意。也許時移世易,人心丕變,清末以來的留學生多有救國濟民的抱負,今天的留學生雖比以前多,可是見識和學問卻不見得長進了多少。

Sunday, 30 May 2010

漫步西營盤(二)

沿東邊街繼續南行上山,經東西橫向的第二街、醫院道、第三街,最後來到高街。街口左側的英皇佐治五世公園豎起了一層層的金屬圍板,原來那就是地鐵西港島線連接山下西營盤站和半山香港大學站的隧道所在。更出乎意料的是,鼎鼎大名的高街「鬼屋」就在眼前。

據介紹,「鬼屋」初建於一八九二年,原為醫院護士宿舍,後來改為精神病院。直至抗日戰爭時,相傳日軍佔領病院為刑場,對面的英皇佐治五世公園則為亂葬崗,鬧鬼之說不脛而走。重光後,精神病院恢復服務,直至一九七一年遷到新界青山醫院。其後一直空置,鬧鬼傳聞更囂塵上,二零零二年拆卸重建為西營盤社區綜合大樓,只保留了面向高街的大麻石外牆和走廊。

在悶熱潮濕的下午來到高街,陰深詭異的氣氛蕩然無存,倒有一份難得的恬靜安寧。


也許,鬧鬼之說本來就是源於恐懼和不瞭解,借助一些玄之又玄的東西把自己不安的情緒合理化而已。記得在社區中心落成之前,鬼屋一直空置,偶然也會傳出一些異端奇聞。看來我們對精神病患的恐懼、對兩方爭戰濫殺無辜的不安和厭惡,實在比死於非命的冤魂更難超度。

漫步西營盤(一)

「西營盤」位於香港島西北岸,但確實位置在哪裡,一直不甚了了。提起西營盤,總會想起像《殺出西營盤》之類以黑幫仇殺為題材的電影,還有在西環碼頭一帶聚眾毆鬥的新聞,總覺得那是三山五嶽人馬聚集之地,更添神秘色彩。如今事過境遷,繼中西區文物徑之後,心血來潮想去看看西營盤,於是四月四日星期天下午,帶著照相機和蕭國健博士所著《香港市區文化之旅》,匆匆在西營盤繞了一圈,總算對這個久聞大名的地區有一點清晰的印象。

西營盤是香港最早發展起來的地區之一,據說地名的「營」字即軍營之意。一八四一年英國宣布佔領香港島,就在水坑口附近的山邊建立軍營,派八百名士兵駐防。軍營所在地便是今天的西營盤。

其實西營盤佔地不廣,東接上環、西連石塘咀,北臨海濱,南抵般含道,從海邊直通山上,步行最多不過一小時。我從上環永樂街西端、與干諾道西、德輔道西交界處的三角碼頭故址出發。一路上靜悄悄地,商店大都沒有開門營業,行人寥落。

三角碼頭故址,如今已填海闢為馬路,早年的風貌蕩然無存了。

從永樂街西端左轉到德輔道西,前行數十步,再左轉入皇后街直行,便是皇后大道西。前行沒多遠,便是古稱「雀仔橋」的斜坡路,可通往香港開埠以來首間公立醫院--西營盤醫院(橋上藍牆白窗的大樓)。據傳雀仔橋前原是一片茂密的叢林,很多雀鳥棲息其中。可是現在只剩下雀仔橋之名,供人憑弔。橋下有窗,依稀記得小時候是公廁,如今早已密封了。

沿皇后大道西行約八百米,就能看見通往山上、甚是陡峭的東邊街。不知怎地,小時候不時經過皇后大道西,卻從未試過在這裡上山,更不知道這條路會通往哪兒。好奇之下沿街直上,才走了數十步,右邊便是第一街,一幢碩大無朋的新型住宅在第一街南側拔地而起,與對面的矮小樓房相映成趣。原來號稱呎價逾萬的所謂豪宅,就座落這個歷史悠久的舊區之中,果然是鶴立雞群,矚目之至。

Friday, 30 April 2010

中上環訪古遊記(九)

穿過居賢坊後左轉,便是太平山街。以前香港衛生欠佳,衛生署時有「洗太平地」之舉,不知與當年太平山街爆發鼠疫有沒有關係?太平山街北側有幾條向皇后大道西延伸的小街如東街、西街等,但英文名稱竟然只用粵語拼音,稱為Tung Street和Sai Street,而不是常見的意譯East Street和West Street,令我甚是好奇。街道西端則有不少供奉各類神靈的廟宇,觀音、濟公、呂洞賓等一應俱全,不知是否也是因為當年鼠疫嚴重,居民為了祈福而建,然後流傳至今。其中濟公廟又稱百姓廟、廣福義祠,據說就是供奉了甲午鼠疫時客死異鄉的貧民的牌位,至今香火不斷。

太平山街盡處,便是普仁街。始創於清同治十年(公元一八七一年)的東華醫院,正是座落普仁街十二號,正門的石牌坊便是同治十年(農曆辛未年)的故物。在普仁街口右轉直行,沒多遠便是荷李活道西端。靠近擺花街、文武廟一帶的藝廊和古董店,近年已陸續向西伸展,但目前這一帶仍保留了幾家老字號的長生店,售賣棺木和壽衣等喪葬物品。也許看到這些醫院、廟宇和長生店,才會教人體會到清末民初之際,香港人生活艱難,健康和性命也隨時受到疾病、天災甚至戰亂威脅的困苦與無助。

在普仁街與荷李活道交界處北側,有一座荷李活道公園。翻看資料才知道,原來那就是鼎鼎大名的大笪地故址。大笪地我一直只聞其名,未臨其地,不知怎地竟一直誤以為大笪地在西環的海旁,全沒想過就在太平山麓。聽說以前大笪地不但有很多售賣熟食和小炒的大牌檔,還有各類雜貨攤子,甚至連織補改衣、街頭賣武和粵曲表演都有,如今只能在街坊父老口耳相傳的掌故中,領略當時「平民夜總會」的幾許風情了。改建後的公園佔地頗廣,北側有行人天橋跨越水坑口街通往摩羅下街和樂古道。園中亭臺樓閣俱全,還有假山流水,活潑的金魚游弋池中,甚覺幽雅;只是門前牌坊上的篆字按照洋文格式從左至右書寫,頗煞風景。

從公園向東走數十步,就是水坑口街。當年英軍從這裡登陸,插上英國國旗宣布佔領香港島,開啟了香港一百五十多年的殖民地歷史,所以英文街名仍為Possession Street,即「佔領地」之意。這裡北連皇后大道西,南接荷李活道,是車水馬龍的交通要道,百多年前卻是可供軍隊登陸的淺灘,不免讓人感慨滄海桑田變化之巨。

返回荷李活道走到西端盡頭,同樣是皇后大道西,向西前行數十米,在和風里旁看到一幢外形獨特的住宅大廈,似乎就是高陞戲院的舊址了。大廈北端還有一條高陞街,東接皇后街,西連德輔道西,與文咸東街、永樂街等一樣,聚集了不少海味店和藥材店。

高陞戲院是早年香港著名的粵劇殿堂之一,與德輔道西、屈地街交界的太平戲院、銅鑼灣利舞臺、油麻地彌敦道普慶戲院等齊名。李碧華筆下的塘西艷妓如花,也是高陞戲院的觀眾呢。

穿越和風里,右轉入高陞街,前行不遠就是皇后街,很快又回到熟悉的永樂街、上環市政大廈一帶。據說上環市政大廈所在,原是昔日上環市場南座,西港城則是北座。古色古香的西港城原是上環菜市場,早已改建為商場,同時在二樓安置了以前俗稱「花布街」的永安街部分商戶,成為「保育」、「活化」等潮語誕生之前,翻修和善用古蹟的成功例子。永安街在哪裡?現在已經成為中環街市旁邊的「中環中心」的一部分,只留下靠近德輔道中的一小段罷了。

普慶坊、太平山街一帶,與半山的堅道、般含道相隔不遠,但氣氛截然不同。堅道、般含道等地,儼然是洋人和巨室豪門的宅邸所在,就連街名也洋味十足,全以香港總督和英籍高官的姓氏來命名。靠近海濱的商業區皇后大道、德輔道、干諾道,雖然以洋人姓氏命名,但店鋪則以充滿嶺南特色的海味店和雜貨店為主。至於普慶坊、居賢坊、太平山街一帶,夾在半山與海濱之間,保留了較濃厚的嶺南民俗風情,從街名到店鋪和廟宇,莫不寄托了中國人對安居樂業、子孫賢孝的期望。然而地鐵西港島線正在施工,預計二零一四年通車,屆時地鐵延伸至香港島西端的堅尼地城之後,除了令房價飊升以外,將為樸實恬靜的上環帶來怎樣的影響,只能拭目以待了。

後記:三月二十八日補影東華醫院牌坊、荷李活道公園、上環市政大廈及西港城。