Tuesday, September 6, 2011

For Sunday Scribblings

{Also submitted to Three-Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday)
“H” as in “Hong Kong”

A number of years ago I was shooting a film in Hong Kong.
The script called for a sequence with a Chinese farmer and his son, to be shot on a farm well outside the city. I had permission to shoot on the farm for only one day, Sunday, so we had to start early Sunday morning.
The actor playing the farmer was already at the location. With my crew I was waiting for the arrival of the boy who had been hired to play the part of the farmer’s son and who was to come with his mother. The mom, luckily, spoke good English. She would spend the day taking care of the boy while we worked.
But they were late.
We sat there and waited.
Whoever first said that time was money must have been thinking about film production. We waited some more. My confidence began to erode; it was already late, and it was getting later.
Finally, I could see the two of them hurrying toward us. The mother apologized profusely; the lad had slept late. Fine, I said, get in. Let’s go.
As we started off, the woman had a request. Her son had had no breakfast. Couldn’t we get something? He could eat it while we drove to the location.

If you’ve ever been in a position to observe an early Sunday morning in Hong Kong, you’d have the sensation that the place was closed up tight as a drum.
However, I did espy a small hole-in-the-wall sort of place that seemed to be open. It had a sign in front that read “Portuguese Cakes.”
I had no idea what those were but any port in a storm, as the saying goes. I didn’t have the heart to continue the drive without some kind of petit dejeuner for the youngster, so I gave some money to my assistant and told him to get something for the kid’s breakfast.
We waited some more.
When the assistant showed up I was startled to see that he had a large tray loaded with half-a-dozen containers of the aforesaid cakes. It seems that a Portuguese cake, at least in Hong Kong, was a variation on the cream-puff theme: each container had a sizable piece of cake on the bottom with a whopping amount of thick whipped cream on the top. It was difficult just to have to look at such rich food early in the morning.
But that kid had evidently never tasted anything like those “cakes” before; he ate them all, and with gusto.

To get back to our production, no one had told me that the farm, our location, was on top of a hill. Nor that the only way to get to it was on a small winding road – which zigged off to the left, then zagged off to the right, etc., etc.
The inevitable happened.
Our boy actor suddenly let loose with a monumental upchuck, probably of a dimension never before seen in that part of the Orient.
The rear seat of our vehicle – and unfortunately not just the rear seat – was covered with gobs of partially-digested gateaux portugais, which had somehow become transmogrified into something rather like Elmer’s Glue, except that the smell was worse.
As we continued toward the location, I could only wonder if Martin Scorsese ever had problems like this. :-)


Roger Owen Green said...

I suspect Marty probably had some of the same problems, and with American actors, from time to time.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Kay L. Davies said...

Oh my goodness. I did the same sort of thing once, eating ice cream before having surgery with a local anaesthetic (thank goodness it wasn't a general or I might have died).
And I'm sure Roger is right, lots of actors overindulge, although probably not on whipped cream, and are not in great shape the next morning.
But that poor little boy, and his mother, and your car... oh, dear.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

kaykuala said...

To anticipate what might go wrong as in the case of infants while on location can be a bit tricky. It is 'just hope for the best'

Leslie: said...

Methinks you posted this before...regardless, it's a great story and well worth reading again! Hope the young fellow was able to continue working for you. Have a great week,

abcw team

Gerry Snape said...

I love the story...you were brave to go on with such a kid!

Elizabeth said...

Am I having deja vu? Worth the re-telling 'though. x

Berowne said...

Leslie: "Methinks you posted this before..."
Yes, but Hong Kong was such a natural for H Day. :-)

Berowne said...

Gerry Snape: "I love the story..."
I love the comment. :-)

Karen said...

Hurl...another H word that suits this tale.

chubskulit said...

Hahaha, I have enjoyed reading the whole story. I bet the boy was so happy that you gave him that big of a treat hehehe.

ChrisJ said...

Hong Kong is another of my husband's favorite cities. But what was that mother thinking! But maybe she's never had much experience with all that whipped cream and her kids.

Berowne said...

Karen: "Hurl...another H word that suits this tale."
Clever. I'm chagrined that I didn't think of it. :-)

Berowne said...

My thanks to ChrisJ, chubskulit, Elizabeth, kaykuala, Kay L D and Roger O G for the friendly comments.

Francisca said...

"...a monumental upchuck, probably of a dimension never before seen in that part of the Orient." Er, probably wrong, Berowne. The Chinese are INFAMOUS for their motion sickness... I can tell you STORIES, but we are in polite company! :-D HK is one of a handful of places I call home, and I can't believe I haven't yet thought of using it for H.

helenmac said...

Hilarious, as a story!
ABC Team

Jo Bryant said...

I loved this story - and the view it gave me of a different Honk Kong. Thanks for sharing.

Mildred said...

Oh my! what a good laugh! You know I've been living in France for almost 40 years but I'm Portuguese -my parents imigrated to France when I was 13. So I can tell you I really enjoyed the story!
Thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment;o)

¤ Have a nice and happy day ¤

ps: honeysuckle is chévrefeuille in French and madresilva in Portuguese;o)

Hildred and Charles said...

When you tell such a great story people are bound to remember the second time around, - and enjoy it just as much as the first time!

Berowne said...

Mildred: "honeysuckle is chévrefeuille in French and madresilva in Portuguese."
Interesting language lesson. So honeysuckle is "goat-leaf" in French and something like "forest mother" in Portuguese? My translation, and probably not all that accurate. :-)

Berowne said...

What a nice series of comments from Francisca, helenmac, Jo Bryant, Hildred & Charles -- thanks.

jabblog said...

I'm sure the vehicle was never the same again. I hope at least the film was worth the considerable trials you went through:-)

Morning said...

loved it.

it is hard to include those three in a special movie shooting experiences, but you made it well.

laurie kolp said...

Oh, no! I bet you were it to be tied by that time. Was the whole day a waste?

jaerose said...

Eww..never work with children..seems to apply in this story..funny and interesting..the photos are stunning..I'm guessing all that green space is wrapped up in a lot of red tape..Jae

Anonymous said...

An excellent tale! And one to learn well from, if first-hand experience hasn't taught someone already.

Berowne said...

laurie kolp: "Was the whole day a waste?"
No, but the car was a sort of waste -- basket. :-)

Berowne said...

jabblog, Morning, jaerose and withthatshewrote -- thanks for dropping by.

Shaista said...

Oh dear, embarrassing for that little boy! He must have been feeling so rotten.
Am just immersing myself into Hong Kong through a novel called The Piano Teacher... have you read it/heard of it?

Berowne said...

Yes. There are, confusingly, a couple of books printed at about the same time with that same title; one of them was made into a good film.

li said...

Kids and animals - totally unpredictable. OTOH, as someone said above, there are plenty of adult actors who indulge in some rather unpleasant behaviors :-)
Was the car ever restored to its original condition? If so, the it would make a great ad for the cleaning agents used.

Kate said...

Fascinating tale, told so well (fascinating despite the unsightly ending)! What an interesting life you have led.

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