I’m going to make eyes at you. Better ones than ever before – because of a pencil pilfered from a Macau hotel room.
There it was, positioned diagonally across the small jotter that’s still provided in swanky hotels. It was a room in a Cotai Strip resort that shall be nameless, and I could almost hear the echoes of children of previous occupants.
‘Daddy, what’s this?’
‘A pencil. It was for writing, in the old days.’
‘Why did people use it’?
‘Um, it rubs out. Whatever you write, you can make vanish.’
‘Oh, like Snapchat.’
I took the pencil, after an assessment of the legality of this act – anything not electronically attached to the minibar has invitation written all over it, right? – and started writing. That’s when I realized I needed pencil practice. How did one hold it? Chopsticks seemed easy in comparison. How much weight did one apply? Pressure! But I’m an old hand at pencils, so my skills returned.
History is written by men, and generally excludes women’s experience. So, you may have heard this is a purely digital age, when writing utensils have no place. To which I say: poppycock. Women use pencils every day: eyeliner, brow liner, lip liner if we’re in a fancy mood. But, I concede, our growing tendency to tap and swipe has led to a diminution in writing competence, and that has a knock on effect in make up application. That wonky upper lid you had to redraw yesterday? Pencil inproficiency. If we don’t write, it affects the steadiness of the hand.
But we’re a crossover generation. We at least remember using pencils at school. What will happen to future generations of young women if they never put pencil to paper, women to whom a pencil will just be a skirt shape? Badly drawn eyes? Smudges? Kohl crises? I worry. Yes, that’s an actual frown, not a pencil line.
Yet future females will need pencils. Unless there is to be SmartLiner where you open an app, stare into the camera and your 3-D printer via Bluetooth propels makeup on your eyelids, actual pencil-wielding skills will be required.
Women of the near future, open your eyes. Hone your HB skills. Pencil it up when you can. Make notes in pencil, not on your phone. Then you too will experience the sheer joy of pencils. You can chew them – no calories. Upend one and you can rub things out. You will wish you could do that with some experiences in life. Oh yes.
Meantime, another type of jotting on the wider experience of a Macau high-end hotel. It’s life at a different level. Solicitude. Concierges catering to whims. Apologies from staff that the lift is taking a while. A bathroom that is bigger than most Hong Kong flats.
Given Macau’s expertness at building these vast complexes, how about a hotel called the HongKongerMacau? A spacious and mannerly haven, where the walls of corridors are painted to depict Hong Kong shop fronts but there are neither crowds nor construction clangs and bangs. Where the humidity is low. Where there is a hotel MTR train to take you to rooms furthest out on the wings, to which a staff member escorts you and says ‘here is your carriage, madam. Can I get you a drink to help you enjoy your journey?’ Where the rooms offer no acoustic evidence of your neighbours’ every action. Slogan: ‘The HongKongerMacau: Hong Kong as you wish it could be.’
I wrote all this on the ferry, in pencil. This week, my eyeliner will be better. Hong Kong will be the same.