Friday, November 13, 2009

Morrison Hall

It was a year ago that I was invited back to Morrison Hall, my alma mater to talk about my book The Cockroach Catcher

 Morrison Hall/Morrison Hall Website

The following is an extract from the book about Morrison Hall:
“Robert Morrison was one of the first non Catholic missionaries in China and the Chinese Missionary Society built a residential hall for the University of Hong Kong in his memory.

“I was dropped off at the front door where the male servants lined up to help and to welcome the returning Morrisonians and the Green Horns. It was such a majestic building with pillars and an entrance that was very classical English in style. There was a covered veranda all round the building. The Warden had his own flat on the south side of the building over the Chapel. Yes, a Chapel is part and parcel of the college tradition at Oxford and Cambridge, and we were no different.

“The servant also took care of the laundry.  Every other day the laundry would come back nicely folded on your bed and those clothes items that needed hanging would be found hanging in the corner wardrobe.

“This was in the early sixties, and there were some strange rules. If any girlfriend wanted to spend the night the mattress had to be out of the room.  I never saw one in my three years stay. If you actually left your mattress outside your room, you would be inviting an audience and no self-respecting girl would ever agree to that.”
This girl friend stayed outside!

The rooms were on the west and north side looking into a central garden. The services such as laundry, kitchen and the servants’ quarters were on the east side.  Just at the end of the drive into our Hall was one of the many access paths to Victoria Peak, the small mountain that dominates the small island of Hong Kong. Some weekends when we were tired of studying a few of us would walk up the peak and admire the view of possibly the most beautiful small city of the world. I would not say most beautiful city, but most beautiful small city would guarantee unanimous agreement.
Another view of the most beautiful small city 
© 2009 Am Ang Zhang

“We had a perfect environment for studying. Daily chores were taken care of, and for physical activities there were tennis courts, a football court, and a games field for track running, and long and high jump.” 

Prof. Sir David Todd, one of the most respected teacher in Medicine and Morrisonian:
“On reflection, among the happiest years of my life were those spent at the University of Hong Kong . One important reason was because I lived in Morrison Hall. Perched about the then peaceful Conduit Road and Kotewall Road , it was a haven for study, and also for play. Perhaps because of its relative inaccessibility – there was no public transport “up the hill” in the late 40' s and early 50' s – once there only very important business, or pleasure, could entice one into town. Hence there was a geographic reason to study, and there was ample opportunity to mix and make friends. Some of my closet university friends are Morrisonians.

“The partitions between rooms did not reach the ceiling, so “over the wall” dialogue was common although hardly confidential. Coaching each other in this manner often involved more than two, and someone would always come up with the right answer.

“We had a good mixture of hallmates – with Overseas' Chinese, Caucasians and there were a few more senior students whose studies had been interrupted by the World War II. It was a diverse and interesting community and there were talents in music, in bridge, in ‘womanizing’ and sports and of course in scholarship! Our sports record was impressive, no doubt the tennis court helped but we were also champions in athletics, football and swimming.

“To prevent us from being too wayward, one of our Warden's wife used to black out the more “adult” passage in the novels in the library – fortunately anatomy and physiology texts were spared. Nonetheless, the annual barn dance with often quite riotous behaviour was well tolerated.”

"We also had the luxury of room “boys”, who varied in diligence but were usually helpful. In a Morrisonian Reunion several years ago it was heartening to see several still healthy and well, despite our excessive demands in the past!"

Links: Morrison Hall Alumni

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