Asses aren’t exotic enough

Image of David Tang

Sir David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters

Your last column was followed by an article in House & Home on the Victorian gothic. What are your thoughts on the push for gothic revivalism? I agree with the assertion that constituent features should not be too crowded. Can lighter pieces, such as rococo or art deco, be mixed in? Or is it best left to the Addams family and Hammer Films?

Talking of the gothic style and its Victorian revival, I am always amused by the example of Cologne cathedral, which took more than 600 years to complete, thereby starting at the time of the gothic at the beginning of the 13th century and not finishing until its revival in the 19th century! That’s what I call timelessness and a slippery question for University Challenge: was Cologne cathedral built in the original gothic style or in the revival of neo-gothic style? Answer: both! Ha ha! But I have never been a fan of the gothic revival, although I don’t mind the Houses of Parliament, especially when bathed in a golden sunset. On the other hand, the Parliament buildings in Ottawa look awkward and ugly. Either way, I don’t think the styles can be mixed, although there are exceptions. For instance, there is a bridge at Central Park in New York that has a gothic look but also a sense of art deco at its base, because cast iron is used instead of the original stone. One thing I think you ought to note: the original gothic style is always delicate and vertically sharp. The wretched Victorians made everything much fatter and heavier. As for the Addamses and the Hammers, leave them alone. I doubt that the film sets are made from anything more substantial than cardboard.

. . .

Shame that you did not castigate those who inflict the pungent aromas of some foods on their fellow train passengers. You can have no idea what it is like to endure that lot en masse on a late-evening Waterloo train after a long day in the City.

Many years ago I had to ban the eating of such fare at open-plan office desks, as it was obnoxious for the majority. A ruling was accepted in good spirit by those who were made to realise that their consumption of spicy foods was causing upset. However, that Englishness of consideration for one’s fellows is latterly much diminished in the capital’s society.

Surely the stench of body odour – and worse – is more obnoxious. When I used the Tube as a young articled clerk getting to Bank in rush hour every morning, I was always in packed carriages, and food smells were not what I dreaded so much as human emissions, whether from powerful armpits, the lower regions or even atmospheric halitosis from yawning undigested commuters. My memories of these appalling ambushes make your complaint of food smells seem insignificant. So: bring on the curries, shish kebabs and tabboulehs and let them drown out the other smellier smells!

. . .

Just as well you did not see the ingredients going in to the pasties, before they were deep-frozen to be woken up in the Paddington oven. The shop where you bought them does not make the pies but contracts them out to a factory.

Um, are you implying that I ate ponies? I don’t think so because I can certainly distinguish beef and horse. We Chinese have very sensitive taste buds and I am sure if I had been proffered a dodgy lasagne, I would have immediately smelt a rat, or should I say, a horse. We are also a bit more adventurous about what we eat. If you venture to Guangzhou (or Canton, as it was known), you will find horses and mules and asses insufficiently exotic. Instead, it’s all about armadillos, snakes, monkeys and even water rats. So stop trying to panic me – I enjoyed my pasties!

. . .

I have to thank you for giving me the name of my affliction. I once had to leave a cinema because the sound of the person next to me eating corn chips was too excruciating.

Just remember misophonia is not the fear of Japanese soup! My fear in cinemas is not so much the sound of eating but large heads or big hair-dos in front of my seat. When the seats are not staggered and there is someone right in front of you sporting a beehive, that’s when one might as well leave. Therefore, whenever I can, I buy the seat in front of me. This I did with The Bodyguard musical recently and it was heavenly, in a packed theatre, to have a clear view in front of me, with not a strand of interference.

Email questions to

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.