Hong Kong – “we buy gallstones”
I'm reliably informed that having gallstones exudes a pain that's worse than childbirth. Admittedly, there is only a small percentage of women who can confirm or quash this theory. But it sounds like it hurts a lot.
Both conditions do produce strange results, though. One equals a bundle, or in some cases, bundles of joy. The other gives the sufferer a ballbearing in a test tube of preserving liquid, usually left on the patient's hospital bedside table.
I've never actually observed one closely, but I've seen it on the telly - so it must be true.
I've often wondered what people do with them afterwards - that's the gallstone, not the baby. Do you take it home and place it on the mantlepiece like some battle trophy? Or does it just go into the drawer with the those keys you've long forgotten which lock they fit, but don't want to throw them away in case you remember? Which you never will, by the way.
I always assumed the gallstone had no value - until I passed a shop window in Hong Kong. It was just up the road from the So-So Hairdressers. In a world where crimpers go for the ultimate puns - A Cut Above the Rest, Curl Up and Dye" - this was not an inspired choice.
"We buy gallstones" may not be a winner, but it certainly gets your attention. The journalist in me felt like going inside and finding out how much they were prepared to pay for the result of someone else's pain, but I thought better of it as I didn't have any merchandise on me. I resolved to do what all journalists now do to get their stories. I'd Google it.
In these financially taxing times, it's as well to know the value of objects hidden away in your drawers. Those keys could provide me with a fortune. I could burgle my former home.
I know there's a credit crunch on because my tailor told me. Yes, you did read that correctly. My tailor, Mr.Woo.
That's the first, and maybe the last time I'll write that line.
For when I embarked on this journey, I promised myself I would ride a number of sideshows I'd read about, but never fulfilled. Now was the time. So, a cut-throat shave and head massage in Mumbai. Tick. Seeing the sun rise over the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
Tick. Dating a lady-boy in Bangkok. Tick
Ok, I made that last one up, but it got your flagging attention, eh?
But buying a made-to-measure suit in Hong Kong was on the list. I'd done a little bit of homework, and dismissed a number of tailors in Kowloon who show you genuine well-made material but then provide you with the finished article resembling a dish-cloth with sleeves.
William Woo looked the part. Grey haired and nearing retirement, he beckoned me inside his shop. British Tailors in Carnarvon Road. I was home. Having scrolled through books of materials, I settled on an Italian Emerigilida Zegna cloth, and Mr.Woo set about me with his tape measure. I was back within 24 hours for the second fitting and then back again 24 hours later to pick it up. The jacket fitted perfectly. The trouser leg was too long. A shame, considering he's touched my testicles to get that inside leg measurement.
"No problem" exclaimed the affable Mr.Woo. The trousers were off, and within half an hour, they were back and shortened. Mr.Woo now has all my details. As long as I remained the same size forever, I can merely fax him the details, and he'll airmail me a new suit.
That little tick-box did cost me more than I'd intended, so in order to see whether my future fortune could lie in gallstones, I Googled enthusiastically. Turns out they're really only looking for cow gallstones as part of some Chinese medicine remedy. And at less than five dollars a dozen, it seems like a lot of pain for very little gain. Poor cows.