Prior to a brief placement in barracks on the Victoria side of Hong Kong Bay for a few days before embarking for shipment back to Britain, we left Lo Wu for a short spell. We were based in a house in a camp where we played basketball amongst lychee trees. One rest day, a bottle of American rye whisky shared out by a colleague on a hot afternoon induced an afternoon of deep slumber and – for I at least – a lifelong distaste for whisky and its consequences.
What contact had we with any Chinese culture? Little, I think. We had come from a Britain which had then little experience of Chinese food except in small pockets in London or Liverpool. Wartime rationing remained in parts of the British diet which were unrestrained in the service retreats in Hong Kong, where we ate what had been limited at home for the past ten years of our upbringing. The sweet scent of duck fat from the alleys on Victoria Island and in Kowloon was sickly and unappetizing. I cannot recall trying any local Chinese food, not on days out in Kowloon or on Hong Kong island, nor at halts on the railway to Sheung Shui from vendors who came to the carriage windows with trays offering cuts of dried pork, duck and possibly other unrecognized meats.