In this posting, Helga and Helmut get checked out for any signs of activity (the radio kind), stay in a hotel with a glittering guest list, and introduce innocent passersby to the notorious Shanghai Lily.
Dear Readers, after our sensational time in Tokyo, here we are, about to visit another Jewel of the East – Shanghai! Thus far, Helmut and I have experienced this exotic location only through the ‘Made in China’ stamp at the bottom of our hip flasks, so being in such close proximity to where these lifesaving items are manufactured, sends us into spasms of delight! Sadly these days, any kind of spasm seems to have an immediate and dire effect on Helmut and he has to slip into a softer, more disposable kind of Chinese product…
As soon as we land at Shanghai’s international airport, we, and our fellow passengers, are forced to file though a metal gate used to detect radiation. On the way through, Helmut cheekily asks the security guards if they could x-ray his bladder while they’re at it! What an uproarious fellow he is!
On the lengthy journey to our hotel, we have time to contemplate the immense size of the city and its exceptional architecture. Dear readers, Shanghai is HUGE! In fact, it is the largest metropolis in China, with a total population of over 22 million and covering an area of 6,340 square kilometers!
Luckily, our extra-large duty-free bottle of Bombay Sapphire reflects the size and grandeur of our surroundings and even MORE luckily, we manage to regain consciousness at the very moment we arrive at our charming hotel – Astor House!
Astor House Hotel
The Astor House Hotel was first established in 1846, and years later, in 1906, moved to its present location on the BUND, a riverside conglomeration of stylish Art Nouveau and Art Deco buildings, which were the homes and business establishments of wealthy European and American expatriates.
During its long and colourful history, the hotel has provided suites of rooms to an impressive list of VIP guests, including, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, English philosopher Bertrand Russell and former US President Ulysses Grant
Dear readers, we are THRILLED to be staying at this classic monument to a bygone era and feel strangely at home treading its creaky, wooden floorboards.
That evening, we ‘tread the boards’ again as we stand at the open windows of our room, pretending to be on a train, while acting out the dialogue from Marlene Dietrich’s immortal movie: Shanghai Express. In this enactment, I play Magdelan, or Shanghai Lily as she now calls herself, a lady of questionable reputation, known as “the notorious White Flower of China.” and Helmut plays her former lover, British Medical Corps Captain Donald Harvey. Helmut/Harvey has to ask her if her name change is due to marriage, and is not aware of her reputation as a glamorous prostitute and tempting seductress:
Shanghai Lily: Well, doctor, I haven’t seen you in a long time. You haven’t changed at all, doctor.
Dr. Harvey: Well, you’ve changed a lot, Magdalen.
Shanghai Lily: Have I, Doc? Do you mind me calling you Doc, or must I be more respectful?
Dr. Harvey: You never were respectful, and you always did call me Doc. I didn’t think I’d ever run into you again.
Shanghai Lily: Have you thought of me much, Doc?
Dr. Harvey: Let’s see. Exactly how long has it been?
Shanghai Lily: Five years and four weeks.
Dr. Harvey: Well, for five years and four weeks, I’ve thought of nothing else.
Shanghai Lily: You were always polite, Doc. You haven’t changed a bit.
Dr. Harvey: You have, Magdalen. You’ve changed a lot.
Shanghai Lily: Have I lost my looks?
Dr. Harvey: No, you’re more beautiful than ever.
Shanghai Lily: How have I changed?
Dr. Harvey: You know, I wish I could describe it.
Shanghai Lily: Well, Doc, I’ve changed my name.
Dr. Harvey: Married?
Shanghai Lily: No. It took more than one man to change my name to Shanghai Lily.
Dr. Harvey: So you’re Shanghai Lily!
Shanghai Lily: The notorious White Flower of China. You’ve heard of me, and you always believe what you’ve heard.
Dr. Harvey: And I still do. You see, I haven’t changed at all
Oh what fun we have! Role-play such as this, dear readers, together with prolonged stints in rehab, can really hone one’s acting skills! It’s a pity about the pesky crowd that has gathered below our window, strangely enough all men, who seem to be waiting and shouting “Captain!” And “Shanghai Billy!“ What DO they want?
The next morning we awake to find a leak in our en-suite bathroom. But does this minor irritation dampen Hubby Helmut’s spirits? NO! Because as he states in his usual jocular manner, this time it’s not just him with the plumbing problem…