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Light and Shade

Sketches from an Uncommon Life

Solomon Matthew Bard

Publication Year: 2009

Illustrated with a large number of photos, some remarkable survivals, this collection of autobiographical essays tells of Dr. Bard's childhood in Eastern Siberia, with a fascinating detour to Moscow and the Crimea while Russia was still in post-revolutionary turmoil.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Several friends in the past had suggested that my background and life experiences were unusual and interesting enough to write about. 1 was not so sure. There have been dozens of books by and about people with similar stories to tell - uprooted by events beyond their control, migrating to new lands, learning a new language, and embracing a new culture and country. It ...


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1. Siberian Childhood

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pp. 3-22

This stanza, sensitively translated by Juliet M. Soskice, comes from an enchanting poem“Peasant Children" by the Russian poet Nicholas Nekrassov.1 As a child of three or four I had often and with great gusto declaimed these lines to the delight of my parents and occasional guests. Although not a peasant child, I felt deeply the words. Images of cold, frosty and interminably long ...

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2. Manchurian Adolescence

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pp. 23-42

These words of a young poet are very moving. Were they on1y the foreboding of his impending death in the duel, or more than that - a recollection of cherished hopes and noble ideas which remained unfulfilled? As I begin writing about the long-gone “golden days" of my adolescence, I am filled with sweet sadness when I recall the unfulfilled aspirations, the lost friendships ...

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3. Eton in China

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pp. 43-58

In October of 1932, my brother Leo and 1 left our home in Harbin, North China, where I had graduated from high school and where I had concurrently attended a music school for three years, studying violin, piano and conducting. I was sixteen, Leo twenty-two. Our destination was Shanghai, on the eastern coast of Central China's ]iangsu (Kiangsu) Province. The circumstances ...

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4. Mr Healey

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pp. 59-62

...I am inclined to call this sketch a reflection on the British character. Before I introduce Mr Healey, * I have to explain how he came, though briefly into my life. December 1933: 1 had spent one year in a British school in Shanghai and had just completed my matriculation examinations for entry into the medical faculty of Hong Kong University. 1 was seventeen years old. With my ...

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5. Hong Kong's Epidemics and Typhoons

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pp. 63-72

The quotation above brings into focus a particular summer of 1937 when an epidemic and a typhoon occurred concurrently and I, a medical student at the time, was a close witness. In this essay I aim to describe briefly the history of epidemics and typhoons in Hong Kong and give a personal account of a severe epidemic coinciding with one of the worst typhoons in the recorded ...

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6. Myself a Reluctant Midwife

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pp. 73-78

In Europe the “phoney war" was over. 1 France and the Low Countries were overrun and England, bombed mercilessly from the air, was fighting for her life. In Hong Kong, it was widely expected that ]apan would soon join the war on Germany's side. Preparations for war were in full swing: women, not in essential services, and children were evacuated to Australia, air-raid ...

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7. The Battle For Hong Kong, December 1941

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pp. 79-100

The region of South China which we call Hong Kong and the New Territories, or politically, Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, boasts of some six thousand years of human activity within its territory. Local archaeological and historical research indicates that during the initial two-thirds of this period the region was inhabited by stone-age, seafaring aborigines ...

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8. Behind Barbed Wire: Life in a Japanese Prisoner-of- War Camp

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pp. 101-124

My essay “The Battle for Hong Kong, December 1941" ended with the words: “Thus, on 25 December 1941 the bloodshed and the fury of the Battle were over, and the long nightmare of occupation began." What follows is the sequel, Idid not keep a diary during my imprisonment, with the result that while the events are clear in my mind, some of the dates are not. I hope this will ...


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9. The Post- War Years

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pp. 127-138

In the postscript to my essay“Behind Barbed Wire" 1 referred briefly to the post-war years. This essay deals with that period of my life in more detail. The Second World War ended with the defeat of Japan on 15 August 1945. It was not, however, until 30 August that a naval force under Rear-Admiral Cecil Harcourt steamed into Hong Kong harbour and reoccupied Hong Kong; ...

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10. Miracle at St. Francis

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pp. 139-142

This episode is from the period in my medical career when, after the Second World War, 1 was for several years engaged in general practice before joining the staff of Hong Kong University. Practising medical doctors have their successes and failures, the majority of which are not dramatic. Only on rare occasions does something happen which confounds all predictions and can ...

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11. Sino-British Club of Hong Kong and Its Legacy

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pp. 143-156

To understand the phenomenon of the Sino-British Club, one must examine the effects of the war and the subsequent occupation on Hong Kong and its society, since the SBC may be seen as the indirect product of these events. At the time of the Japanese invasion of Hong Kong, in December 1941, Hong Kong's defending garrison consisted of some ten thousand regular British ...

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12. Eric Coates

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pp. 157-160

Eric Coates (1886-1957), the English composer, was undoubtedly the king of English light music. Some people erroneously confuse light music with bad music. Light and serious music are two different genres, though the dividing line between the two is not always clear-cut. Either can be good or bad. Eric 1 met Eric Coates through his son Austin. Although brought up in a ...

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13. Hong Kong Volunteers after the War: from the Notes of a Regimental Medical Officer

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pp. 161-172

For those who are not familiar with the British army system, it is sometimes difficult to grasp the full meaning of the term “regiment' It is not a battle formation, defined by strength or number, like a platoon, a company or a battalion. A regiment's numbers vary widely. In Britain and its Commonwealth, regiments are generally formed within a particular locality or county, with ...

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14. Maria Callas at Epidauros

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pp. 173-175

In the summer of 1960, while travelling in Greece, I was very fortunate to be present at the performance of Bellini's opera Norma at Epidauros,with Maria Callas singing the star role. The old port of Epidauros lies in Peloponessos, on the southern shore of the Saronic Gulf. Four miles inland from the old port, and off the main road, lies the famous Theatre of Epidauros, the largest ...


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15. Incas of Peru

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pp. 179-192

In these dramatic words William Prescott lamented the demise of one of the most extraordinary empires the world has ever seen - the Inca Empire of Like most people I was vaguely aware of the fascinating subject of the Inca Empire, but South America was not in my field of archaeological interest, which centred predominantly around Hong Kong and South China. It was the ...

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16. Beauty Pageant in South Dakota

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pp. 193-200

The first phrase has become a cliche, but in the case of a beauty contest it can surely be regarded as apt. The second, a1so a common cliche is not as apt since beauty contests,as I have found, seem to seek beauty beyond skin depth. Acting as one of the judges at a beauty pageant was undoubtedly among my more unusual experiences, especially since at no time in the past had I ...

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17. Easter Island/ Rapa Nui

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pp. 201-220

I cannot recall when the wish to visit Easter Island first stirred in me. It may have been many years ago when I was still a young man and when exploring remote, little-known places held a special fascination. Later, my strong interest in archaeology further impelled me to fulfil this wish, for Easter Island had a reputation of being a bizarre place with mysterious large stone figures which ...

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18. Old Chinese Fort Rediscovered

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pp. 221-236

This is a story of heritage conservation: a story of challenge and achievement, in which an old ruin was rescued from neglect and decay, restored and protected for posterity as a valued historical site. I must confess that heritage conservation did not occur to me as a possible avocation, until well into my thirties. When the time came to consider an occupation, soon after leaving ...

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19. Trafalgar Night in Hong Kong

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pp. 237-242

Among some of my unusual experiences, perhaps the most unexpected episode was related to the anniversary of Nelson's famous naval victory at Cape Trafalgar. Trafalgar Night is an important and time-honoured naval tradition observed annually in October wherever there are units of the Royal Navy to be found. Officers and guests gather for dinner either on board a ship or at ...

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20. Working with the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra

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pp. 243-264

We live in a world of sounds. Scientists may wish to tell us that sound is a product of our brain, that outside our senses sound is merely a wave motion. Who cares? What counts is that we hear sounds. For me, the silent world is unthinkable, and my heart goes out to those who are deprived, by nature or disease, of hearing. How Beethoven must have suffered when he could no ...

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21. My Family

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pp. 266-282

...I love this quotation. For me, it captures the essence of childhood, its innocence, its naturalness, its inborn sense of wonder, as yet untouched by the real world. We had a friend in Hong Kong who used to visit us with his little dog. The children loved this dog and played with it. One day our friend came alone. He looked sad and told us that the dog had died and we ...


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pp. 283-290

E-ISBN-13: 9789888052516
Print-ISBN-13: 9789622099494

Page Count: 364
Publication Year: 2009