Happy birthday, Mr X

Well, well – I see it is the birthday of the man with the most difficult handle on the forum: xsamen – no, hxsmen – no, xiamen – oh, you know who I mean.

Many happy returns of the day, Mark.

Best wishes, Martin (still slightly younger).

66! A mere stripling of a fella.
Happy birthday Y’ Lordship.
Mark's tipple.jpg

Thank you Martin and Vic.

Vic, I know you’re into Jameson; I didn’t know you were also into aviatiion fuel!! But I thank you for the gift of the bottle. It seems to be made of sorghum (Kaoliang) so I can be brave and drink it.

When I’d been in Xiamen working for the TV station for two or three weeks, our managing editor told me I had to go down to the ground floor to collect my “welfare handout” — a practice instituted when the PRC was born and workers weren’t paid apart from a tiny amount of pocket money, but were provided by their “work unit” with their accommodation, their spouse, and then supplies of rice, cooking oil, soap, the occasional live chickens or pair of ducks, and other necessities of life … all these latter being “welfare handout”. Now people are paid a salary, welfare handouts no longer happen.

My “welfare handout” consisted of 6 litres of some kind of Chinese spirits, rejoicing in the name of “3 cups and you won’t be able to cross the mountain pass” — a classical reference and a cup would have been about the size of an Espresso cup. It was totally disgusting and undrinkable. I tried one bottle with a Chinese friend, and even he spat out his first mouthful. So we poured the rest down the sink, apart from a measure that I tried to cook with … to flambé some meat. That food went straight into the dustbin and I went out to have some noodles in a local restaurant instead. When I moved flat four years later, I left behind five and half litres of this strange idea of “welfare”. Pity I didn’t have a car or I could have put it in the fuel tank.

But “Kaoliang”, at least the local kaoliang round here, is drinkable provided you don’t try to light a cigarette at the same time. This bottle — “Red Star Twice Distilled”, I think — is from Beijing, and as far as I can read only 50% alcohol by volume, not 70%, so … who knows.

“Gan bei” — Dry your glass — as they say here.

Mr X

Happy (belated? I can’t find the date on this thing) birthday. And thanks for the joy of reading your description of “3 cups and you won’t be able to cross the mountain pass”. While enjoying the obvious interpretation that lacks all subtlety, my curiosity was piqued by mention of a classical reference. If you have the time inclination, would you mind elaborating (or pointing me to where I could out more)?

Since Vic has supplied the go-juice, I’ll send you an imaginary chocolate birthday cake with 6 red candles.

It’s 11 years since I was told the story and I can’t remember the details, but it relates to a story in the classical novel “Water Margin” (Shui Hu Zhuan) in which the hero Wu Sung stops at an inn at the bottom of the Jingyang Pass, somewhere in Shandong Province, where the inn sign reads, “Three cups and you can’t cross the pass”. The reason for the sign is a feud between the owner of the inn and the gods who were the most frequent guests. Perhaps the translation should really read “Three cups or you can’t cross the pass” …
But the problem as in Water Margin is that the pass is the territory of a tiger, which kills anyone who tries to cross. Wu Sung, is undaunted, drinks 18 cups of the “wine” and sets off up the pass. He encounters the tiger and kills it, if I remember rightly with his bare hands.
The disgusting bottled brain-damage that I was given had merely borrowed the phrase as its name. It was made here in Xiamen, I believe. Certainly, for the next 6 months it was being advertised on the local TV channels … the company had given the TV Station a vast quantity of the stuff as part of the advertising deal, normal practice at the time.


Edit: and thank you for the virtual chocolate cake … I can virtually eat it, something I can’t do with non-virtual chocolate cake! :slight_smile:

Happy B Day!

You get 3 wishes…

Thank you kindly, sir. Now I’ll have to try and think of three things it will be safe to wish for. It seems that wishes are dangerous things that have unpredicted consequences when granted.