First Person

Flowers, Books and a Bucket

Flowers Isn’t it remarkable how many things you can consider bourgeois if you really set your mind to it? The ideological brains behind the Cultural Revolution were very good at this. The hua wang (flower king), the much respected gardener, became the hua gong (flower worker), and all of China’s gardens fell into disrepair. Teams of women would walk round Beijing’s parks with besom brooms sweeping the packed dirt where the grass once grew, and a uniform greyness fell upon everything. It was so grey that in 1975 when we watched a movie about Beijing, it took us a long…

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