15 August 2012

Stanley ~ ho.

Seen a mobbier boss than that? Mr Sheldon Adelson. Moi non plus. But worth reading.

Incidentally, Adelson has just pushed back at a 'prostitution strategy' charge. I thought it was so common that it was hardly worth adding to a rap sheet.

I'll keep my story simple:

When I was a thrusting young ram, out of school and with a year to frolic before I went up to Oxford, son of a senior government servant, I had everything ... and pretty much everyone (except for square-jawed Keith McGregor who hooked the 1st XII).

In those days, Stanley Ho was King of Macau and very nice he was to the Holmeses, too.

Stanley owned gambling and in my time the beautiful enclave hadn't caught the attention of the Vegas bunch. Word had it was that when it did, they'd come out to prowl around, head for the airport, en route for which they'd be pulled in and spend the night in the cells with rats the size of hedgehogs.

None of which was my business. If I fancied a weekend away from the bustle of the Fragrant Harbour, maman would call Stanley and bingo! it was fixed. Good pun: of all the gamblings Uncle Ho ran, I don't think it included bingo.

Fragrant Ardour ~ one weekend I persuaded a pretty girl to accompany and as we were enjoying our meal before betting our 2/6, Stanley walked past and spotted me and chided me gently for not letting him know I was honouring his casino with a visit.

"Join us for coffee later"
(a gesture to a lackey that everything was comped)

Long story short, I was young and tactless and let it be known that I had no cheen with which to go beserk at the tables, much as I would have liked and definitely what my more sophisticated companion would have been pleased with.

Another gesture and a box of chips appeared discreetly at my side and when we rose to 'play', we were escorted to the tables and it let known that we were Mr Ho's guests and, please, the champagne is on the house. More where that came from.

All right for some ~ some weeks after my bacchanalian bliss, I was alerted by a journo pal that a certain rag planned to run a scurrilous story (with photos) about the son of a very senior civil servant spending more in Ho casino than his supposedly incorruptible father earned in a month.

I went cold. I was 18 and I froze.

I went out for a walk and it didnt get better. I called Ho's office and asked to meet him.

No way. Busy man. Five minutes later, Ho called back: would I like to see him now?

I told him everything:

  • My terror that this would do my father irreperable damage
  • His absolute honesty and now this
  • The injustice that a foolish unthinking child should stab him in the back
  • I must conquer my fear and tell my father all.
  • Etc.

    Stanley listened and nodded and called in a henchman whom he briefed and told me to keep talking.

    My panicked innocence clearly got thru and there was some chatter (guttural Cantonese, Portuguese?) and Stanley said no need own up to my father ... yet.

    More chat. Sympathy over not realising how reptilian were the press. Exchanged looks with his wing hench and nodding memories of a Ho daughter making the same goof, and not coming clean in time for muscular damage control.

    I was almost in tears: brink of a good life, Oxford, what a fool I'd been.

    Looking back, this must have been a father thing for Stanley. Carving his empire, taking his eye off the daughterly ball. A chance to relive and re-correct.

    Fatherly arm as he walked me to reception.

    "It's not so bad. I will talk to some people and 'explain' the situation. Your beautiful mother, when will she visit again and paint some more? We cannot upset her."

    A gesture to one of mum's pastels on the wall and a barked explanation to Herr Hench.

    Nothing appeared and nothing was heard.

    So, my Stanley Ho story and when, years later, I was a feed for Brian Tisdall's HK Standard 'Tiger Talk' gossiperia, I never blabbed and would fax him what rumours I'd heard.

  • 1 comment :

    Peter Moss said...

    What a fabulous story.
    And what great pictures too.
    You've got to open the gates and let these stories out of your blog and into print!