- •Contact us
- •About us
- •Advertise with the FT
- •Terms & conditions
© The Financial Times Ltd 2013 FT and 'Financial Times' are trademarks of The Financial Times Ltd.
June 29, 2012 7:05 pm
Sir David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters
While the nouveaux riches buy brand new penthouses with low ceilings for £60m, the nouveaux pauvres move to Hackney where ceilings are stupendously high, houses are perfectly proportioned, and all for under £1m. The only things putting up our property prices are the ever-increasing hipsters but another riot or two should see the back of them. Luckily the Olympics is having no impact at all.
The trouble with Hackney is that no one in central London can ever get there in time for lunch, unless one starts driving at dawn. In the eternal traffic, I once heard almost the entire opera of Janácek’s The Makropulos Case, in which the woman lived to 337 years before ageing. That was how long I felt the journey was. Therefore, there is a price to be paid for your beautifully proportioned houses which, not surprisingly, are considerably cheaper by virtue of not being “location, location, location”. You mention the nouveaux pauvres who seem to be the new settlers in Hackney. I am afraid this will not bring any sense of style unless you can attract the anciens pauvres too.
Talking of the Olympics, I floated the idea, as I did when Canary Wharf was first developed, that a state-of-the-art racecourse should be built for night-racing, which would bring to life that whole area of east London, especially with the “sport of kings” being the singular activity that unites the toffs and the cockneys. No doubt the wily Irish would soon join in, and this marvellous melting pot would have given London’s West End a run for its money. Anyone who has been to night-racing in Happy Valley in Hong Kong would testify to the excitement of a floodlit course in the dark, with racing punctuating a lovely evening of food and drinks, of winnings and losses, of tic-tac men in cloth caps and commissionaires in bowlers ... This whole enterprise would also bring plentiful employment to the most deprived areas of London. The Olympics talk about legacy all the time. A magnificent racecourse built for the games would not only have put on the best equestrian show on earth, but afterwards the most modern facilities for stabling and training of the finest thoroughbreds would have entrenched Britain as the racing capital of the world. Needless to say, nobody paid the slightest bit of attention to my suggestion.
Your comment on the submarines was both unexpected and entertaining. Is it true however? My Chinese mates were unable to verify it and only know the multitudes of their brethren running fabulously successful high-tech companies here in California. Times, it seems, have changed?
It is absolutely true that there has been a tradition going as far back as the middle of the 19th century with Chinese immigrants joining the Merchant and Royal navies as labourers, particularly as laundrymen. Even that funny-looking ukulele player George Formby wrote a song about a Mr Wu as a laundryman; and Dick Robertson brought out a superb recording of “Chinese Laundry Blues” which I love. It makes it sound as if it was great fun being a Chinese launderer in the navy, which it couldn’t have been. But one thing about the Brits is that they are generally loyal to their servants. The first grave dug in the Falklands was a temporary resting place for Kyo Ben Kwo, one of the two Chinese laundry workers who died on HMS Coventry. It was a poignant tale of an unsung hero who seems, to me, to have led a much more meaningful life than half of those computer nerds who flooded Silicon Valley with micro-chips. They are especially irritating as most of them have become fabulously rich.
What is your view on bow ties? They seem to be well regarded in the US but not much in evidence in Europe.
Bow ties look ridiculous, unless you are either Bob Hope or Robin Day who looked ridiculous – the former with a hockey-stick chin, and the latter with Bavarian eyebrows. Bow ties are also rather effeminate, as they look exactly like a butterfly. Why would any real man wish to wear a butterfly round his collar?
What is your secret for cramming as much as you do into a week? And what are the biggest time wasters you have learned to avoid? (I refer to activities, and not to individuals!)
One of the worst inventions in modern life is the window envelope. Invariably it means a bill. Therefore, I have learned to avoid opening window envelopes which saves a lot of time, and being depressed.
Email questions to email@example.com
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.