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寧靜的新年漫步,然後…… | A Quiet New Year Walk, Then….
by John BATTEN
at 10:32am on 23rd June 2018


圖片說明 Captions: 

1. 假日小販在深水埗擺賣的貨物 Sham Shui Po casual trader’s goods laid out on the ground
2. 荔枝角道的熟食小販 Hawker offering street food on Lai Chi Kok Road
3. 深水埗的街頭餐桌Tables set-up on street in Sham Shui Po

攝影:約翰百德 ,2016年2月8日農曆新年Photographs: John Batten, Chinese New Year, 8 February 2016



(Please scroll down for English version)

每個農曆新年,我都會約Dave見面,一同在深水埗區內散步拍照,這個習慣在過去多年已幾乎成為了我們傳統。新年期間,街市所在的街道依然,但經常到訪深水埗的話,會發現這裡與平時不同。街上的小販攤位都關了門,不再是常見的販商和買家,街市更延伸至街道每個角落,佔據整條長沙灣道。那些通常長期在這裡擺賣的小販休假三天,由假日小販取代;他們在地上鋪上膠布或紙板,再把舊衣、小物和一些不再需要但於去年累積起來的家品放在上面擺賣。較井井有條的,會擺放售價較高的精選物件,例如是相機配件或平價雨傘。這裡熱鬧非常,而且人煙鼎沸,地鐵站出口因為被附近坐在地上的小販,還有擺賣炒栗子、烤蕃薯和鵪鶉蛋的小攤阻擋,幾乎可以說是險象橫生。我們四周閒逛,拍照,而Dave喜歡停下來收錄街上的聲音和對話,最後可能上載到YouTube。我們不時停下來說說爛笑話,也許是雙關語和文字遊戲,也會坐下喝杯咖啡和吃麵,通常都是坐在擺放在行人路上的桌子。農曆年間,那些我們經常光顧的茶餐廳都善用食物環境衞生署督察休假的好機會。一般來說,只要食肆門前加設桌椅和提供食物,便已是違反衛生條例。但這是農曆新年,所有人都較為輕鬆,通常有幾天都會對條例規則隻眼開隻眼閉,特別是在深水埗。

不論天氣如何,這天通常都過得很寫意,我們會閒逛至石硤美或太子,然後到荔枝角、油麻地或旺角吃晚飯。在2016年,我清楚記得走到旺角道附近時我跟Dave說:「好,你選吧,向左走還是向右走。」向右走的話,我們會到達朗豪坊,可避則避的商場,選擇容易不過!他說「向左吧。」「對,豉油街應認還有食肆開門。」然後我在想,店外正好擺著桌子!

那夜回到家中,我無法相信從新聞上聽到旺角砵蘭街,朗豪坊附近,發生了涉及街上魚蛋和麵檔小販 、食環署督察、警察和其他市民的混亂。在這場稍後被稱為「魚蛋革命」的事件中,聽去就像一場可怕的誤會。我的意思是,我想到的理由,這是新年時間,新年期間應該寬鬆處理。這期間應記有些彈性,沒有事情應該失控至擾亂新年的喜氣。而且,當晚全香港多處地方都有發生類似的違反衛生條例情況,為什麼要特別選出這裡的小販,要求他們停此擺賣?就算讓小販繼續做生意(像其他小販一樣),他們又會帶來什麼傷害?

兩年半後,上星期:一名年輕友人Raze(化名)給我在Facebook留言說:「今早的新聞令我很難過……梁天琦被囚6 年……試想想他出獄時已經是32/33歲……他的黃金時間都要在獄中渡過……」之後幾個小時內,我反思了她為什麼這樣慨嘆。她和梁天琦年紀相若。她感觸香港是她的家,她唯一的家。她有強烈的道德原則,對是非黑白有深切感受。她對歷史的瞭解,以及歷史對現在與未來的影響越來越有體會。她喜愛新意念,別是音樂方面。她努力工作,並為香港付出時間、精力和熱誠。她不反對內地,當然也不是港獨主義。她只是因為梁天琦和其他人被針對對待而感到「憂傷」,也可能是忿忿不平 。是的,擲磚應該受罰,但是那一夜,情勢極度出錯。

事件發生後的一夜,我回到砵蘭街看看事態發展,魚蛋小販已回到街上以真正新年風格擺賣。世界並沒有塌下!梁天琦和其他人士在那夜被困於瘋狂情緒之中,但卻被那夜極度出錯的事情被針對對待。 但他們只是故事的一部份。在他們開始擲磚前,食環署督察當時做了什麼?警察又做了什麼?我們至今仍不知道當時發生了什麼事情––那並不足夠。


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2018年6月23日



A Quiet New Year Walk, Then….

by John Batten



It’s become almost a tradition: for many years now, at Chinese New Year, I meet Dave, and we walk around Sham Shui Po to take photographs together. The market streets are the same, but for regular Sham Shui Po-goers, it is a different place, the street booths closed, not the usual sellers and buyers, and the market is extended to every street corner and all along Cheung Sha Wan Road. The regular, permanent vendors take a three-day holiday and their places are replaced by casual traders who spread old clothes, knick-knacks and house-hold goods they no longer need and have accumulated over the previous year out on sheets of plastic or cardboard. The slightly more organized will have a selection of items that can be sold at a slightly higher price: some camera gear or discount umbrellas. It is bustling and crowded and the MTR Station entrances are almost-dangerously blocked by close sitting vendors and sellers of roasted chestnuts, sweet potatoes and pigeon eggs. We wander around taking photographs and Dave likes to stop and take a recording of street sounds or conversations, which might end-up on a YouTube clip. We stop frequently and make bad jokes, usually puns and word-plays, between chatting over coffee and noodles, often sitting at tables set-up on the footpaths. It is Chinese New Year and the many chan cha teng we visit take advantage of the Food & Environmental Health Department inspectors also being on holiday. Normally, the simple action of placing tables outside a restaurant and serving food would be an infringement of health regulations. But it is New Year and everyone is flexible and generally easy-going about rules and regulations for a few days  – especially as it’s Sham Shui Po.

It is always an enjoyable day, no matter the weather, as we wander our way through Lai Chi Kok or Shek Kip Mei or Tai Kok Tsui or Prince Edward and then head for dinner in Yau Ma Tei or Mong Kok. In 2016, I clearly remember we were near Mong Kok Road and I said to Dave: “OK, choose, do we go left or right.” A right turn would have taken us to Langham Place – a shopping centre, an easy choice to avoid! “I think left”, he said. “Yes, Soy Street will have restaurants open,” and, I thought, outside tables to sit at!

Later that night I got home and could not believe hearing about the disruption in Mong Kok – on Portland Street, near Langham Place - involving fish-ball and noodle street vendors, Food & Environmental Health Department inspectors, the police and other members of the public. In what soon became known as the ‘Fishball Revolution’, it sounded to me like a terrible case of misunderstanding. I mean, I justified to myself, it is New Year, and everything should be relaxed at New Year. There should be flexibility and nothing should get so out-of-hand that it disturbs the ‘good atmosphere’ that we all want at New Year. Also, there were lots of similar infringements of health regulations throughout Hong Kong that night, why were these vendors picked-out to be stopped from selling? If the vendors were left alone (like other vendors), what harm would they have done?

Two and a half years later, last week: A young friend, Raze (name changed), sent me a Facebook message saying “I’m really sad about the news this morning…Edward Leung being jailed for 6 years…imagine when he’s out he will be 32/33 years old already…having to spend his golden years in jail….”. Over the next hours, I reflected on her underlying emotions. She is a similar age as Edward. She is sensitive that Hong Kong is her home, her only home. She has strong moral principles and a strong sense of what is right and what is wrong. She has a growing understanding of history and its influence on the present and the future. She loves new ideas, especially in music. She works and contributes time and energy and enthusiasm to Hong Kong. She is not anti-mainland, and, certainly not pro-independence.  She is “sad” and probably pissed-off that Edward Leung and others have been singled-out. Yes, throwing bricks requires a punishment, but something went terribly, terribly wrong that night. 

The following night, I went back to Portland Street to see what was happening: the fish-ball vendors were (back) serving on the street in true New Year-style. The world did not collapse! Edward Leung and others caught up in the frenzied emotions of that night have been singled-out for what went terribly wrong that night. But, they are only part of the story. What did the food inspectors do, what did the police do, before bricks were thrown? We still don’t know what happened – and that is not good enough.


This article was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 23 June 2018, translated by Aulina Chan.

 



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