There’s a lot to be said for liminality – autumn, twilight, long train journeys, the T.A.Z. of Occupy.
I have a couple more examples of the in-betweeness of the hand-over. I had to work early the following day so I stayed close to home in the New Territories. On the night of the 31st I watched the ceremony on TV at a small party at a neighbour’s house, and I remember being struck by hearing speeches in Mandarin, not Cantonese.
Just before midnight the neighbour’s (Eurasian) children left the room. We didn’t know where they went. They returned just after 12 wearing traditional Chinese clothes, with smiles all round.
My landlord at the time was a policeman and told me that at midnight the police on duty at the official ceremony ducked behind pillars and ripped of their Velcro backed ‘Royal Hong Kong Police’ epaulettes, which had ‘Hong Kong Police’ ones underneath.
Behind a pillar, in another room, that’s where things were changed.
I’ve lost touch with the neighbours since, and the children left Hong Kong. I don’t know what my old landlord is up to. I collected a lot of souvenirs at the time – stamps, coins, newspapers, bits and bobs, I forget exactly. They’re in a box still, somewhere, I suppose. I don’t mind.