More Impressions, Working for HE the Governor, and Tiffin is also called Lunch
There were furniture shops with blackwood stands, marbletopped, low blackwood tables, chairs and stools, intricately carved in bird patterns, flower patterns, dragon patterns; camphorwood boxes carved with Chinese scenes, emitting a delicious aroma when opened. Camphorwood was in great demand for storing things against moths.
Mah Jong sets had their own shops, this being the national game. Sets were in great variety, the traditional style being tiles of bamboo and ivory.
Rattan shops sold basketwork (rattan) chairs and tables, for use outside in the summer. One of these shops called itself "Do be chairful"!
Mamma often said how lucky we were to live in Hong Kong, but we did not need reminding! It was a happy life on this beautiful island, with friends of many races, and kind servants to care for us.
Returning from holidays up North, as our ship sailed into Hong Kong waters, past all the pretty islands, and the hills of Hong Kong and Kowloon began to appear, Audrey and I would agree that there was nowhere as beautiful as Hong Kong!
Two of my friends at this time were George Tarrant (Jerry), who walked with me in the hills; and Ian Grant of Butterfield and Swire, the shipping firm. I loved to hear from Ian about Ichang and other Yangtze River ports where he had served, and about England and Scotland. He gave me H.V. Morton's "In search of England" and "In search of Scotland".
One day in 1927 Mr. Hazlerigg told me that the Governor, Sir Cecil Clementi, needed a stenographer at Government.House and that I had been recommended for the post. I went to be interviewed by H.E. and was accepted. And so I began my career as the Governor's secretary in theyear of my seventeenth birthday. It was a great honour for me, so young, to be chosen!
Government House was a fine building of two storeys in large grounds with trees, shrubs and flower beds. It had wide verandahs on both sides upstairs and downstairs, furnished with potted palms, and there was the familiar grand view over the City and the Harbour towards Kowloon and its hills. A large banyan tree grew opposite the entrance, which faced the Peak. As you entered you turned left along the verandah, and at the end was the office of the Custodian of Government House, Mr. John Deakin, which I was to share with him. At the other end was the Aide-de-Camp's Office, and near it the Private Secretary's Office. The A.D..C. was always a Lieutenant in the Army, and the Private Secretary amember of the Hong Kong Colonial Service.
Sir Cecil Clementi was a tall handsome, distinguished man, his hair going gray; his wife, Lady Clementi (Penelope), also tall and fair with a delicate kind of beauty. Dione and Cecily aged about twelve and eleven, and Cresswell about eight, were fair like their mother and resembled both parents.
Mr. Deakin lived with his wife and children in the Lodge beside the main gate. He was a great character, rather handsome with gray hair, and spoke with a strong accent from somewhere in England. He never stopped talking and I do not know how I ever got through my work! He managed the domestic affairs of Government House and supervised the servants. The Governors' wives were certainly fortunate in having him.
The Governors, Aides-de-Camp and Private Secretaries changed but Mr. Deakin and I were permanent. I was at Government House for nearly seven years, until my marriage.
From my window I looked out on the trees of the garden, especially some tall palms. One summer's day when a typhoon struck Hong Kong, I watched as one of my trees was uprooted by the "tai fung" (great wind).
I loved working at Government House; it was like being one of a large family. Every morning I went to H.E.'s,office. I always called Sir Cecil "Your Excellency" and he and Lady Clementi always called me "Miss Steel", which made me feel very grown up. H.E. would dictate official letters and minutes; and also his personal letters, his favourite and most constant correspondent being his father-in-law, Admiral C.J. Eyres, D.S.O., of Bath. Those were the years of the Chinese warlords, and I had to take down in my notebook, and type, endless lengthy letters to Admiral Eyres about all the latest complicated machinations and wars between Chang Tso-lin, Wu Pei-fu, Feng Yu-hsiang (the Christian General), Yen Hsi-shan, Chang Hsueh-liang (the Young Marshal) and Chiang Kai-shek. I hope the Admiral was as fascinated by the warlords as Sir Cecil was. I certainly improved my knowledge of Chinese affairs, and it was a good test for Pitman's shorthand.
As well as typing official documents, minutes and letters, and personal letters, I kept the Government House visitors' book, which one of the boys brought to me from the main gate every morning. I typed copies of the previous day's names and addresses for H.E., his wife and the A.D.C. And I typed the table plans for lunch and dinner parties, and wrote the place cards and invitations. This was the first time I can remember the word "lunch" being used. We always called it "tiffin".
About this time Audrey and I began to go to tea dances in the Hong Kong Hotel Roof Garden. Our partners were Andrew Kinross, Frank Angus and Maurice Weill. We loved dancing, and it was not long before we were proficient at foxtrots, one steps and waltzes.