19 February 2012


HOORAH! New book!

My faithful Corfuciosi Irregulars are always pestering me for more reviews but i'm choosy and I'm lazy and few seem to come along that I actually feel excited blood pumping thru the veins to put pen to keyboard.

Alas, few of you might buy this wonderful book, but I wish for your sake and enjoyment that do get to treat yourselves

I'm proud to say that the author is my very own first cousin once removed (see comment). My Kenton granny, bless her heart, could tell you to the nth strata who and where the family tree panned out so ... if Peter's mum, my auntie Mabel, was my maternal grannny's sister ... alors, so that's how this whole removal thing works. Got it.

Quick digression, look at the exquisite draughtsmanship of the family trees. Works of art in themselves.

Loipon, when the original In the Web came out, the internet web was hardly heard of - brilliant choice because, once Al Gore had invented it, every google brought up Pierre's chef-d'oeuvre.

I was in Hong Kong when this precise painstaking study came out and was able to strut my stuff as a sort of vaguely fringe member of the elite Eurasiae.

My own family's tree ~ proud just to gaze on it.

King of Hong Kong Cricket: a tiger at the crease. The umpires might as well have had fake arms attached to signal sixes and boundaries.

He gave me an idea that gained me much face when i played #8 at Hurstpierpoint and shared it with the games master: when facing the bowler in a monsoon HK rain, Peter wished he had mini-wipers on his glasses to clear his vision. Terribly clever, and the games master also wore glasses and found my suggestion both clever and 'committed'.

Beach House - I loved visiting here. Fell in love for the first real time with another visitor - Maureen Segrue.

Peter's ma, my Auntie Mabel, was just the nicest kindly woman - and a wonderful artist.

I think her fierce dog was called something like Rod and he'd go barking down to the landing strip as the sampans went by.

When i was back in hong kong to work, the house was rented out and some prick was reported in the SCMP as holding parties and made the beeg mistake of referring to the original owners in derogatory terms - oh poh poh. He clearly didnt know he was dissing one of the great Hong Kong families and a lot of us woz still around. He bit the dust.

Peter's dad, George, was an architect but i found much more interesting the tale that he used to race his car in reverse in the then-emptyish Kowloon main street. Always been tempted to try that myself, being a skilled reverser m'self.

Pete's brother, Mike, was a wonderful father figure to me when I holidayed in Kenton with maternal Granny. Now laid low by a stroke, cruel fate, but i remember the time when cousin Brian [why not just buy the frigging book and follow Peter's impeccable charts?] showed me a chapter in a brainy aerodynamics tome headed Hall's Extension of Thwaite's Theory. Talk about gobsmacked: to come up with a theory in the first place is bad enough, but to have the gall to extend on it ...

I also recall that Mike made a bet with colleague, the forfeit of which was that he'd go to work in a space suit.

Mike was a senior egg-head in some sober security-riddled company so for someone of his seniority to arrive a la Yuri Gagarin must've stunned the guards at the gate. Bless him and Didi.

Yes yes but what's the book about?

Blurb ~ I was rude enough in a previous draft to refer to the jacket copy as 'clunky'. OK, if that's how I felt, that's how I feel, but I certainly couldn't sum up the book to adequately convey its appeal and vigour.

Here's what I suggest: skim it and then leap within to savour Peter's prose before condemning it on the blurb alone. Here it is:

Clunky blurb:

"Early 1950s, in the Radio People store in Hong Kong's Kowloon, surrounded by hi-fi's, Guy Shea remarks to his teenage friend Peter Hall that he feels the owner, Albert Chan, is somehow connected to Hong Kong Eurasian families.

Seemingly insignificant at the time, the memory is retrieved when Geoffrey Chan, grandson of the late Albert, makes contact with the author more than fifty years later.

Prompted by Geoffrey's desire to provide information for the rumoured update, the ensuing emails develop into a spirited exchange regarding the use of Chinese and European names by individuals of multiple heritage.

This account shows the role of timescale, chance encounters and perspective in the process of genealogical research, alongside the issue of respecting people's wish to be self-defining.

"Meticulous and sometimes provocative, this updated edition of In the Web isn't just an important socio-anthropological and historical resource for academics whilst, offering an intriguing portrait of the Hong Kong-born Eurasian community.

Keenly anticipated, this new edition benefits from ongoing investigation over twenty years, resulting in extended genograms, rich anecdotes and answers to previously unresolved questions from the first book.

The text continues to occupy a unique position on this subject; the author sensitively balances personal experiences with rigorous research; the use of traditional archival sources now augmented by e-communication, online databases and advances in genetic science."

Yes, well ... I feel unfair just reproducing it here.

Quick now, turn to Chapter XV and read Peter's take on Eurasians. Then start from the start and prepare to be mesmerised, or just skim thru the wonderful photographs and then zap back and start on the words. Just read it.

A work of love and labour that reads like an adventure story. I'm on the second read and this time referring to the trees to keep a precise focus on Who's Who.

My spitfire younger daughter (Anna, 21, along with her sister, Georgina, First Cousine Twice Removed, as you see from the helpful anon commenteur) is studying business psychology at Evergreen college, WA state. Part of her studies introduced her to genealogy, which she seems to have taken deep to heart. I shall order this for her and she can contact the author direct with further excited questions. Good test: See comments for helpful guide to where my girls fit into all this.

Do you lot good too to get a handle on it. Go on, astound them all at the next family get-together.

A wonderful treat. I just wish my own mother had lived a few weeks more to enjoy it.


Anonymous said...

The author is your first cousin once removed!

Corfucius said...

OK thanks. at last i know. took me enough lazy years. im sure i was told 100 times with precise linkings, yea unto the umpteenth generation.

never got that 'removed' bit. i should wikipedia it and bore everyone with the precise peckings order.

Anonymous said...

Your daughter would be a first cousin twice removed I think...

Corfucius said...

thanks so much. i was just thinking about updating the blog to reflect the visit of my elder girl, so good timing. also, Cost Centre #2, Anna, has just written with all sorts of data requirements for what she calls a 'genogram' that she is working on in her spare hours. this info' will impress her. a genogram, what ho! why cant she be like her fellow hottie chicksters and stalk the alley ways for illegal stills and hunk ruffians.

thanks again. 'in the web' has worked wonders in drawing dad n daughters closer. i have stopped leaving it out for visitors - they start condoling, glimpse its distinctive jacket and start reading ("just a paragraph"), leaving me to self-condole with a flagon of dr gordon's reviving juniper concoction.