Phil Brown, the Kowloon Kid
From the streets of Kowloon, Hong Kong, to the pages of The Courier Mail as Arts Editor – Phil Brown has lived a life that’s anything but ordinary.
Phil is well known in the Queensland art world. Gallery openings, theatre productions and swanky events wouldn’t be complete without his trademark fly away hair and thick glasses.
Hailing from Maitland, New South Wales, Phil moved at the age of six to Hong Kong where earlier generations of the Browns had once called home.
“During the war my grandfather was a prisoner of war there – they were a British family who ended up in the east and Australia but then we went back to Hong Kong, so we’ve had a long association with Hong Kong,” he said.
It’s hard to imagine the one-time neighbour of Michael Hutchence wasn’t born with his trademark hair, glasses, turtleneck and all. But his most recent book, The Kowloon Kid, takes readers back to Phil’s beginnings and proves the arts editor was once a knobbly kneed schoolboy.
The book is an ode to Hong Kong and provides a glimpse into Phil’s younger years playing cricket at the Kowloon Cricket Club, discovering The Beatles in the swinging sixties and taking tea at the revered Peninsula Hotel.
“Hong Kong was an interesting place to be – it was British and Chinese so there was an exotic mix of cultures that didn’t really clash because they were quite separate,” Phil said.
“Hong Kong was groovy, they called it Carnaby Street East because everybody in Hong Kong had sixties hair and Mary Quant dresses.”
For seven years, Phil spent his most formative days creating mischief on the streets of Kowloon. He takes readers through his favourite memories – jumping from one dramatic mishap to another. While Phil is darkly humorous and wittily sarcastic in retelling his most infamous scrapes, his obvious fondness for Hong Kong shows that the city will always hold a special place in his heart.
Listen to more from Phil below.