The Longest Six Months

Filed in General, Hong Kong

It's been an extraordinary six months since the play finished.

My vocal chords were severely damaged by the over-singing before and during the show. Even with six weeks of minimal speaking to relax the chords, they remained sensitive to exertion of any kind. In August, a friend asked me to sing and my voice was gone and my chords were sore after just two songs. A stressful three to four weeks in September only made matters worse. Things around us have calmed down now and I have begun the slow process of rebuilding my singing voice but it will be at least a month before I can sing anything serious.


London. I couldn't leave Hong Kong to go to the auditions because TVB needed me for a series 「金石良緣」 being filmed between June and August. Fortunately, London agreed to let me do a distance-audition. Unfortunately, damaged vocal chords and other matters that popped up (see below) precluded me from studying in London for the near future.


Like most actors and actresses, we are not well off and we rent the flat we live in. We live in the ground floor unit of a typical Hong Kong-style village house. Village houses by definition have three stories. Each 700 square-foot storey is a single unit. As the rich people have continued to get richer, and as the Mid-Levels district has lost some of its appeal to the expats, our district has become much more popular in recent years. Many village houses are being converted into expensive single-unit homes. For several months, the two units above us were empty. A speculator spotted them and immediately saw lots of dollar signs. By the end of June, my wife and I were frantically searching our district and adjacent districts looking for a new place to live in that would be suitable for us and our family.

We were given just eight weeks to move out. Our landlord was nice to us but the time limits still applied. By the middle of July, my wife and I were resigned to moving to a unit we had found near the ocean in another district, a very inconvenient district. My wife was stressed and depressed but there was nothing we could do. With two or three pets, it can be very difficult to rent a flat. With eleven pets, renting borders on impossible.

Then a miracle happened. While trying to find a home for a roaming puppy from our village's car park, I discovered a flat perfect for us in every way; location, size, room arrangement. The flat was more expensive, was in serious disrepair and came with some extra responsibility but otherwise was exactly what we needed. We believe that the flat was in part a gift from my wife's father who had passed away the previous day.

Time was tight. Between getting access to the new flat and moving out of our old flat, we only had three days in which to clean and renovate the new flat and move all of our belongings. It was tough for everyone; including the kids; but we made it. The kids were not allowed into the new flat until the painting had been completed several days after moving in. That made it hard for them before they've always had free access to us all day every day. When they were finally allowed into the flat, they were ecstatic.

Renovations continued while we lived here. I did most of the renovation work myself. A very good friend helped immensely with the painting and some electrical work. The rest of the family worked their socks off cleaning everything and rearranging our furniture and possessions. Four weeks later, we are living comfortably with only the television and stereo system remaining to set up.


My wife's father passed away in August with some form of lung cancer. It was rather shocking to watch his health decline so rapidly in his last weeks. He still had the strength to complain and argue about home affairs and the night-time noise in the hospital the first time he was admitted. A week later, he didn't have the strength to yell anymore. By August, the doctors believed that his remaining time was short and transferred him to a very nice hospice (a hospital for dying people). We stayed with and watched him every day because we wanted to be there just in case the dying moment came. For a few days, he seemed ok and we were left wondering if he would hang on for many more months. The following Sunday, he saw more family members than he'd seen for a very long time, and he was happy and energetic. Apparently, that's not a good sign. The Chinese have a saying 「回光反照」 which basically means the last glow before sunset (taken from Wenlin). He died a few days later. We had the funeral in mid-August.


So you can see that for the past six months, we have been busy beyond belief, but the activities haven't stopped yet.

One of our kids; Batty; has hip dysplasia. He suffers extreme pain in his back and rear legs after any bouts of sprinting, and he walks with a stilted gait. Over the past three or four years, we've approached several vets hoping to find out exactly what the problem was. Several possibilities were presented to us including dysplasia and 'tying up'. One vet even performed an MRI on Batty's lower spine and was ready to immediately perform surgery to cut out the supposed 'unhealthy bone growths' in his spine. We never went back to that vet again.

We are now almost certain however that Batty does indeed have hip dysplasia. He loves to run but the pain is so bad afterward that he cries out in pain even when the other kids lightly brush past him. We have had some luck financially of late and so we've decided to cure his dysplasia once and for all with hip replacements. Hopefully, the hardest thing for him throughout this ordeal will be the mandatory immobility. He'll be caged for at least four weeks, not even allowed to leave the cage to go to the bathroom. Four weeks of imprisonment in exchange for several years of happy running and living; I think it's a worthwhile trade.

I had decided to keep my articles shorter for the sake of my readers. Whoops! This one has already broken that rule. I'd better say goodbye. See you all again next time.

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26 Responses to “The Longest Six Months”
  1. May says:

    hey,

    it seems like a lot of things happened over the last few months but i'm glad to see that you're back in action! good luck with your doggy!

  2. jenny says:

    oh. so many things happened.

    Hope you and your family enjoy the life in the new home :)

  3. yinyin says:

    5.....there has been so many things happening to you,
    but finally everything is fine with you.
    Talking about Lung Cancer, my mum's boss, died of lung cancer too, and unfortunately his family could't spend the last moment with him. Sad...
    talking abt the restaurant, tell you something funny, may be to cheer you up. its not really funny, but//
    ok, it happened to the restaurant that my mum works in.
    one day, use usually my mum open the resturant at around 9, to do some cleaning before customers comes in. one day, she went, and just about to do some cleaning, she realised the ceiling was broken, because some robber had came in during the night, so she ran to the kitchen to check whether the 夹万 ( dunno what is call in english) it was safe, so she just rang the boss. Then as usual, she clean the resturant, while she was cleaning she realised the lobster in the fish tank were all gone. hmmmm......
    continue cleaning... then she realised the 腊味 was gone....
    continue cleaning..... she finally realised the rice cooker are gone as well....
    hahaha~ wel, i find it funny~
    anyway, take care. Best of luck..
    Hope you and your family like the new home.^_^
    regards 蔡茵

  4. png says:

    Good luck, in everything. You'd gone through all these and you're still here. I believe you have the strength already so a little bit of luck maybe useful to you. :)

    BTW, I personally never mind long articles.

  5. Enna says:

    Was wondering where you were and how you were doing. It's very nice to see you back here again.

  6. sapphire says:

    So many things happened to you at the same time. Sighs!
    I do hope everything works out for you now. Take care!
    Btw, I like this short-form diary.

  7. cherrie says:

    hello! wow, indeed the longest 6 months huh? glad you're back =) i hope your vocal cords will be back to normal soon. take care!
    hope batty will be okay too. always sad to see dogs sick. whenever our dogs are sick too, i also worry too much of them. and seeing them in pain really breaks my heart. don't worry, he'll be okay in no time.

  8. Joshy says:

    My my, really a lot has happened for you during these past 6 months.. did you try and herbal concoctions to try and relieve your throat?i know that even for a ktv goer like me damages my vocal chords easily, what more a professional like you.

    all the best in your new abode and hope its quite comfy :)

    best regards
    Joshy
    a fan from Singapore

  9. Fiona says:

    Nice to hear from you again, I knew you must be extremely busy to have your blog not updated for such a long time.
    I must say it can be heartbreaking owning a pet, as they usually do get sick sometime in their life and you see them in pain, and they can't tell you how they feel or where the pain is. My dog, a 6 yr old rottweiler, has arthritis on one of his front paw (well the vet thinks it's arthritis) and he's been limping on and off. Apparently he says it's quite common in big breeds as their legs are supporting more weight. Does any of your kids have this symptom?

  10. Keong says:

    Greg,

    Nice to hear from you again! I thought you never write again. It seems that lots have happened to you recently. Im glad that you got through it. Does London knows about your health condition? Are they arrangging for another audition for you?

    Sorry to hear about your father in law. May he rest in piece. Do send my regards to your wife. It must be hard for her.

    I think you and your wife should take sometime for a good rest. Hope to hear from you again soon.

    Regards,

    Keong (小卒)

  11. skymist says:

    Hi Greg,
    I have been wondering how come you haven't written for such a long time and now, there you go...

    My deepest sympathy to you and your wife for your father-in-law's passing away.

    Like you, I have just moved house as well. The reason of moving is the same too --- we were tossed out by the landlord as the house was sold. It is one of the most stressful things in the world I reckon... You have done well, trust me.

    Hopefully your voice recovers soon!

    Best Wishes!

  12. Long Go says:

    Hey Greg, big fan of yours, my ex HK grilfriend told me about you back in 1999 when I was learning Cantonese. She said your Canto kicks ass. Its good to be able to see clips of you on the web now all these years later. Your canto is hard core. Just a question...Why haven't you tried to get into Hong Kong films, I mean stuff other than TVB? Do you know Bey 'The Beast' Logan? Maybe he could hook you up in one of his new releases. Seems he has a finger (or all dirty 10 of his fingers) in everything lately!

    加油

  13. Long Go says:

    Yo man,

    I just left a msg and it's not there anymore...what happened?

    Is it a problem with your page? Hope not...would like to chat more

    龍哥

  14. Christina Woo says:

    It has been a while you didn't update your blog, just think you already give up on this blog, and then today when i view it again, you write again~
    Really many things happened... hope everything will be fine in near future.

  15. Maggie says:

    It's great to hear news from you again, after such a long period.

    A lot of things happened in your life and I hope things will get better. Wish you all the best!

    And pls don't make your article short, loved to read your story. Pls post photos, would you?

  16. Eugene and Mandy says:

    I know the property market around our area has been extremely crazy. Glad you found a suitable place to live now. We comtemplated for a short time moving back to the city but many dogs (6), don't think it's possible.... and the dogs will not be happy. See you around.

  17. VanessaStar says:

    You did wrote a very long article but I enjoyed it; except for the sad parts.
    So how are you & your kids finding the new home?
    Take good care of the puppies! I love dogs (animals basically) more than anything, except for stars!
    Take care yourself too... see you around!

  18. SLJ says:

    Cheer up mate~!
    There's always a BETTER TOMORROW ay.

  19. edith says:

    Glad to see your message again, and glad you've overcome all the difficulties.

  20. Helen says:

    Dear,everything will be good for you now...,because you are very strong...:-)

  21. Clement says:

    Good to know that you're still alive!

  22. Paul Chang says:

    加油呀!!!(add oil) :P

  23. Unicorn@FaxDiary (formerly known as Pegasus) says:

    Sorry to hear what have happened to your father-in-law, I bought his book after reading your article and do find it to be very helpful.

    I lost my mom this March, and am still suffering from Depression (maybe just cured), so I do understand how your beloved wife feels. So glad that she have you in her life, because I have to face all the darkness all by myself.

    I have a new blog, and I add your blog onto my recommadation list. Hope that you would not mind.

    Caroline

  24. Sue says:

    Hi Gregory, Sorry, this is a strange request. Can you ask your neighbour, Mike (owns and walks a dog or dogs), ex-HK rowing coach (?), to email me asap,please? I want him to quote for some construction work, but our mutual contact can't remember his surname and doesn't have his contact details.
    Kind regards,
    Sue.

  25. Janelee.au says:

    I know how you feel... because I am a Chinese living in Melbourne. I am loving it. With my Chinese mind, I found it every easy to make good money in Australia. With my Australian status, I also found it very easy to make big money in China!

    Ohh...发哥,he is the love of my life. I love him so very much so I am happy if he is happy. Pls don't get me wrong, I am 42 and mother of 2 kids. I just love 发哥,love every bit of him and his wife, of course!

    Enjoy live!

  26. WP says:

    Hi Kwok Wing,

    Really glad to learn about the new move of your life. My husband is also a gewilo living and working in HK. It seems to be hard for him to find something he really likes. So I can understand very well that what you were going through. I hope something like the Chow Yuet Fat encounter would happen to my husband to.

    Enjoy the new stage of life.

    I just try to give him support and be patient though its not easy for me to do it either.

    btw, we ran into you and your wife about yrs ago in a country park in SK.