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國際藝評人協會香港分會會員定期刊登評論近期展覽的文章。文章將以作者原文(英文或中文)刊登。

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雨季 ∣ Rainy Season
by 約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 9:59am on 14th June 2017


圖片說明 Caption
深圳華僑城創意文化園區內米開朗基羅大衛像頭部的水泥仿製品都長出綠葉來,圖片: 約翰百德
Rough copy of Michelangelo's 'David' with green foliage placed inside Shenzhen's OCT, May 2017. Photo: John Batten



(Please scroll down for English version)

五月的雨是夏季到來的第一個跡象;它可以是一段天氣陰晴不定的時間,溫度通常都會在攝氏30度上下,要到下雨天才會降至相對清涼的攝氏二十四、五度。大雨可以是危險的信號。香港新界東北的低窪地區,以至筲箕灣、上環等老區都會出現水浸。5月24日,天文台發出了本年度第一個黑雨警告,當日便有一輛中國東方航空的飛機在降落不久後滑出機場跑道,幸而沒有發生嚴重後果。一般的下雨天,偶爾因為天雨路滑或能見度降低而發生交通意外。但每年這投時間,在大雨後可能出現的山泥傾瀉才是最大的危險。香港最嚴重的陸地災難和意外,通常都因為滂沱大雨後的土地沉降而起。過去30年,政府在鞏固斜坡和改善市內渠務方便作出了很大努力,成績可嘉。然而, 翻江倒海的發展和過份野心的工程,往往會令脆弱斜坡和不穩地面情況惡化。

半山限制區可謂聲名狼藉,這裡的斷層線,由不穩定的斜坡,和山頂的地下水道組成,由中區警署延伸至上環東華醫院。這一帶曾經發生香港最嚴重的山泥傾瀉。前身為教育學院的用地,即現時位於上環普慶坊英皇書院同學會小學(二校)之處,在1925年時發生了香港史上最嚴重的山泥傾瀉,奪去了75條性命。就在去年這個時候,舊中區警署內其中一幢歷史建築物,有一部份倒塌,這次事故因為承建商在修葺牆壁和天花時的錯誤引起,但也巧合地在連日大雨後發生。

我在上世紀六十年代在澳洲長大,和其他小朋友常常唱著唱這首兒歌「Rain, rain go away; come again another day」(大雨大雨快離開,找個日子再過來)。但在1967/1968年夏季的駭人旱災,一切都隨之改變:政府開始實行制水,人們用水桶儲水,淋浴被禁,而洗澡水則回收用來洗衣服。我們的日常生活被旱災支配:好像永不終結的炎熱日子、樹木乾枯、土地被烤乾,還有極具破壞力的灌木林火。「水,要渴過才會學懂。」這是美國詩人艾美莉.狄金生的智理名言。這些旱災後,我們很快改變了態度,我們對水珍而重之,還在祈求「雨水,請你快些出現!」

我的制水經歷,當然比不上香港在1963和1964年市民排長龍取水,每四天只供水四小時的情況。試想像在這次水危機的邊緣,有些陰險的「創業家」私下以高價向負擔得起的人供水和提供更大「方便」,那種心情是何等叫人鬱悶和沮喪。

那已經是很久以前的事,記憶也逐漸褪色。我們現在很少會聽到在街喉拿著水煲水桶,排長龍取水的第一手故事,而是透過照片感受當時的情況。這個故事也被改動了,它沒有用來表達食水危機,而是(同樣正確地)被視為香港那股擋不住的獅子山精神例子。

香港大學最近的研究發現,現在的香港居民沒有嚴正看待節約用水。但是香港的供水非常易變:我們依賴來得合時的雨水,經郊野公園集水區填滿水塘,還有來自內地的供應。

幾個星期前,當我到達深圳華僑城創意文化園(OCT Loft)參加「明天」音樂節時,天正下著雨。華僑城創意文化園鄰近世界之窗主題公園,是一個工廠/住宅舊區。園裡保留了較古老的低矮住宅和工廠大廈,這些建築在過去十年演變成迷人的藝術/設計/咖啡座文創區。裡面有很多樹木、空地和與馬路分開的行人小徑,還有緩衝路拱,確保汽車慢速行駛。

整個周末的空氣都充滿雨水。沒有什麼比得上在綠油油的環境和雨中行走的清新感覺。樹冠提供了遮蔭,還有水鳥在小水坑裡洗澡。在音樂會開始前,我們在一家西藏素食館吃晚飯,食肆環境反映了區內的氛圍。音樂會完場後,樹下和古舊的住宅大樓裡可以找到零星的深夜咖啡座。就連米開朗基羅大衛像頭部的水泥仿製品都長出綠葉來(見圖)!

我們不應自滿。世界的清水分佈一點也不平均。現時,只有俄羅斯、加拿大、印尼、巴西、剛果和哥倫比亞的清水供應,足以應付國內人口的清水需求。在這些地方以外,包括中國,水供應都是岌岌可危……因此,請好好享受雨水充足的季節,還有為香港供應清水的綠化地帶!


Translation from the original English by Aulina Chan
原文刊於《明報周刊》,2017年6月10日



Rainy Season

John Batten


The first inkling of summer’s arrival are the rains of May. It can be a time of unsettled weather; and, temperatures that should normally hover around 30°Celsius drop on rainy days to a relatively mild mid-20°Celsius. Heavy rain can signal danger. Hong Kong’s low-lying areas of the northern New Territories and such older areas as Shau Kei Wan and Sheung Wan may flood. On 24 May, the year’s first black rain warning was raised and a China Eastern Airlines airplane slowly slid across and off the airport’s runway just after landing, luckily with no serious consequences. There were the usual rainy-day car accidents due to slippery roads and low visibility. But, it is the potential of land slips after heavy rain that is the biggest danger at this time of year. Hong Kong’s worst land-based disasters and accidents are usually caused by land subsidence after heavy rain. Over the last thirty years the government has done an admirable job stabilising slopes and improving drainage throughout the city. But, intense development and overly-ambitious engineering can always exacerbate fragile slopes and unstable ground.

The notorious Mid-levels Exclusion Zone, a fault line of unstable slopes and underground water courses running down from The Peak, starts near the Central Police Station and runs across to Tung Wah Hospital in Sheung Wan. This area has seen some of Hong Kong’s worst land slides. The site of the old Institute of Education, now the King’s College Old Boys’ Association Primary School on Po Hing Fong in Sheung Wan, suffered one of Hong Kong’s worst landslides with the loss of 75 lives in 1925. And, exactly a year ago a section of one of the historic buildings inside the Central Police Station collapsed after a contractor’s error while renovating a wall and ceiling, coincidently after days of rain.

Growing up in Australia in the 1960s, it was common for me and other children to sing: “Rain, rain go away; come again another day.” But everything changed during the terrible 1967/1968 summer drought – water restrictions began, water was saved in buckets, showers banned and bath-water was recycled for washing clothes. Around us were the consequences of drought: seemingly endless hot days, dying trees, parched land and devastating bushfires. “Water, is taught by thirst”, the American poet Emily Dickinson sagely wrote; accordingly, we quickly changed our attitude – we appreciated water and, thought “please, any rain!”

My experience of water restrictions, of course, does not compare to Hong Kong’s in 1963 and 1964 with long lines of residents queuing for water, only supplied for four hours per day every four days. Imagine the boredom and frustration and lurking on the edge of the crisis were shady ‘entrepreneurs’ who privately supplied water at a much higher price at greater ‘convenience’, but only for those who could afford to pay.

That is long ago, memories are fading and rather than hearing firsthand stories of the notoriously long queues of people waiting to fill pots and buckets at roadside water taps, that time is now experienced through photographs. The story has also altered: rather than expressing the water crisis that it was, these photographs are more often seen – equally correct – as another example of Hong Kong’s irrepressible Lion Rock spirit.

Recent University of Hong Kong research shows that nowadays Hong Kong residents do not consider water conservation seriously. But, Hong Kong’s water supply is very fickle – relying on favourable rains to fill reservoirs from the water catchment areas of our country parks and supply from the mainland.

It was raining when I arrived at the ‘Tomorrow’ music festival at OCT in Shenzhen a few weeks ago. OCT is an old factory/residential area near the Window on the World theme park. Preserved are the older low-rise residential and factory blocks which have evolved  over the decade into a fascinating art/design/café district. There are lots of trees, open spaces and pedestrian footpaths separated from roads – and speed humps ensure that cars travel slowly.

Rain was in the air for the entire weekend. And there is nothing better than walking in the rain surrounded by greenery. A canopy of trees gave lots of shelter and birds washed themselves in puddles. Before the concert, we had dinner at a Tibetan vegetarian restaurant, an exotic meal reflecting the ambience of the district; after the concert late-night cafés were scattered amongst the trees and older residential blocks. Even a rough concrete copy of Michelangelo’s David’s head was sprouting green foliage (see photo)!

We should not be complacent. Fresh water is unevenly distributed around the world. The only countries with sufficient fresh water supplies for their own populations are Russia, Canada, Indonesia, Brazil, Congo and Colombia – all the rest, including China, are vulnerable….So, enjoy the abundant rainy season and Hong Kong’s green areas that supply fresh water!


This article was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 10 June 2017

 



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