British residents face handover with stiff upper lip
June 29, 1997
Web posted at: 7:40 p.m. EDT (2340 GMT)
From Correspondent Richard Blystone
HONG KONG (CNN) -- The Hong Kong handover will be watched with many emotions, from rapture to mourning.
Some nostalgic colonialists will turn their backs, or go away. But Desmond and Rosemary Inglis are not among them.
They are not about to pull up their deep roots in Hong Kong. They view the handover as just another transition in a land that has seen plenty of change this century, and they are determined to stay.
Desmond Inglis, a semi-retired business consultant, came to Hong Kong as a child. An ancestor of his wife Rosemary came out to the Far East colony from England a century ago.
Both of them welcome the takeover, although they have no pretensions of becoming Chinese. They are simply committed to their home, regardless of who rules.
Things have changed a lot in Hong Kong since the Inglis were young. At the time, tigers lived on the colony's outlying jungle peaks.
"It was a lovely place to live," Desmond says. "It wasn't too crowded. We had beautiful beaches."
The tigers are gone now. But Hong Kong is where Rosemary feels at home. She is a Cantonese-speaking, fourth-generation Hong Kong English.
She lives above the harbor near the top of the tiger-free peaks among mostly Chinese neighbors.
They came for fun or work
Hitherto any Briton out for an adventure or a job, or a good
time, could just come here. No papers were required.
Chris Harley tends bar for about twice what he could make at home. His affinity for Hong Kong was emblazoned permanently at the hands of a tattoo artist for about $130.
Asphalt specialists working at Hong Kong's new airport project don't come for adventure. "It's a job. Not a lot of work in England, so I got offered the chance I came out," Nick Culley says.
Everyone knows the party's almost over. Just one month after the handover, easy entry ends abruptly.
When Des and Rosemary Inglis were young, the balls were formal -- and terribly British. Years later they had to take lessons to keep up with new dance steps their Chinese friends were learning.
'Wait and see'
Like most permanent residents, they'll mark the handover at clubs, with old friends, Chinese and British. There's sure to be plenty of nostalgia and celebration.
"You don't want to feel miserable about it because it's been a tremendous achievement," she says of Hong Kong's development since World War II. "Look at Hong Kong. It's just fantastic."
"I have no reservations about the administration that's going to take over," Desmond adds. "There are certainly going to be changes, but how drastic they'll be, one has to wait and see."
Drastic? The Inglises' era has already seen plenty of drastic change: everything from typhoons to Japanese attack in World War II.
"We've survived much worse things than a simple change of government," Rosemary says.
Adds Desmond: "We're staying here."
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