December 9, 2011 10:09 pm

Whiskering campaign

Have you ever considered growing Fu Manchu’s style of facial whiskers? It would give you an air of louche nefariousness in any new photo

Sir David Tang, founder of ICorrect, globetrotter and the man about too many towns to mention, divides his time between homes in Hong Kong, mainland China and London. Here he invites readers’ queries for his advice on property, interiors, etiquette at home (wherever you live), parties and anything else that may be bothering you.

No production of The Ring has lasted 25 hours. None. Ever. Not even close. Try listening to any recording. Elapsed time will be around 16 hours. When you get it wrong you really get it wrong. And The Ring might be four nights but you won’t see it in less than six days. You can look it up. I can’t be bothered to explain it to you. What an insufferable bore you must be.

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How pathetic it is that someone like you who, I see, runs a rather up-market mutual fund, should write so aggressively and totally get hold of the wrong end of the stick. I hope you do better with your rich clients by paying more attention when they ask you a question. Because in my case, you clearly couldn’t wait to show off that you have listened to some recording of The Ring, and totally missed the point of my answer, which was specifically about the whole palaver of attending a performance. You obviously haven’t been to Bayreuth. There, it is a daily ritual of around six hours from the moment one puts on one’s black tie around 4pm, and strolling to the Festspielhaus to have drinks, and then sitting through the performance with two or three very civilised and long intervals over which a three-course dinner is served. If you really want to be educated, you might search my piece on going to Bayreuth with Stephen Fry in The Spectator. Anyway, unless my arithmetic is wrong – and your being a tedious fund manager might just manage to calculate, the entire ritual of experiencing all four performances of The Ring would add up to around 25 hours. Perhaps it is I who should say to you: “When you get it wrong, you really get it wrong.”

Have you ever considered growing Fu Manchu’s style of facial whiskers? It would give you an air of louche nefariousness in any new photo to this column.

I love Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu stories. But from my collection of his books, the caricature of the fiend on all the covers shows long thin whiskers dangling down from under his nose. I must say they do not look particularly appetising. So I might pass on your suggestion. But although Fu Manchu was an ugly evil doctor, his stories are riveting. It was he who brought about the worldwide conspiracy of the “Yellow Peril”. It is extraordinary that Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, the real name of Sax Rohmer, born in Birmingham at the end of the 19th century and who emigrated to New York, should have been the creator of this Chinese master criminal. Even stranger is the fact that he died from Asian flu. This must have been a Chinese curse as nefarious as Fu Manchu himself.

My son, a senior at Yale, has accepted a job with an investment firm in Hong Kong following graduation next May. What advice for how I can best help him in this transition? Should I offer to go to help set up his apartment? He will have many Asian colleagues and I want to appear to be the correct type of mother. He has always been most self-sufficient. I feel guilty that I was not a “Tiger Mother”. But he seems to have turned out rather well in spite of me. What, if anything, should I do?

Mothers like you who over-fuss about your children should understand that it would be so much better if they were left alone. My view is that mothers should always be there for children to turn to some of the time, and not for the mother to turn to their children all the time. And since when would a senior at Yale be regarded as incapable of settling in with a new job? If you think you need to help him, you’d be giving the Ivy League a bad name. And I will bet you this: if your son were to be bothered what others think of him, he would squirm at the prospect of you hovering and fretting over him. You really should leave him alone. Otherwise, you might get yourself into the deep and very murky water of the Oedipus complex.

I have recently returned to university after some time off and forgot that it involves sitting in seminars with other supposedly like-minded students. What is the most dignified, plausible and socially correct thing to do when another pupil is spouting terrible bromides, and you really just want to tell them to shut up?

If your own peers were to talk incessant rubbish, what does that say about you yourself and your university?

Email questions to david.tang@ft.com

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