The sadness of modern family homes

Soon babies will be born with a crooked neck and the nimblest of fingers

Cigarettes v alcohol: Part 2

The intrinsic arguments against smoking are not at all insulated from the inevitable complexities of life

Occupational joke therapy

Chairman Mao’s full name, Mao Tse-tung, is, incredibly, an anagram of ‘mangetouts’

How to greet one’s wife

Germans have a specific term for a gift presented to one’s wife as an apology for being out late – ‘dragon fodder’

Superstition and doorstep surprises

I opened the door to greet the ambassador only to realise I’d forgotten to unclip my big pink curler

Mega-rich memories

During the glorious summer evenings, we would serve plonk and Walkers crisps half an hour before the concert

What to hang over a fireplace

I have a great variety of flick knives . . . I think it suggests masculine street cred

Royal lunch takes the biscuit

At the other extreme, the least elaborate lunch I’ve ever had was at Clarence House

A bathroom standing joke

If the Queen mentions Prince William, she can hardly be accused of name-dropping

The Dalai Lama’s spiritual connections

The Dalai Lama seems to be much more of a trendy man than me as he has joined Instagram

Why men should never buy lingerie

I once sold a couple of silk boxer underpants to the gloriously beautiful Cindy Crawford

Dull questions at dinner parties

‘As far as I can judge, name cards are for champions of social pole-vaulting or failed networkers’

Snooty versus super-snobs

‘Aristocrats live in their own surreal world and the lower classes generally don’t give a toss’

Use a pen for a special Tweet

‘Who wants to drink champagne from a straw? Not only is this a common habit, it sabotages the effect’

Asian tea has Oolong history

‘The British have not been particularly romantic with naming their teas, unlike Asia’

Calling card of social pests

‘Budget airlines assume passengers should have no right to demand any services’

A damper on the hamper

‘I once turned down a picnic with my editor because I suspected that the champagne would be tepid’

Uncoupled by a mattress

‘I hate the scent that Shangri-La hotels use. It reminds me of a detergent from boarding school’

Ho Chi Minh’s shoe shame

‘I’ve seen ambitious networkers palm off their name cards to the Prince of Wales – and even the Queen’

Hotel loses its composer

In the toilet of one Australian brewery the graffiti reads: ‘You never buy the beer, you just rent it’

ABOUT DAVID

David TangDavid Tang, the FT's Agony Uncle, answers readers' questions about property, interiors, architecture and gardens although he often strays beyond his remit to debate concerns about everything from etiquette to grammar.

Tang is the entrepreneur who founded China Tang and iCorrect, and he has homes principally in Hong Kong, mainland China, London and Essex .

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