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David Tang, entrepreneur and founder of ICorrect, offers advice on questions about property, interiors – and modern manners for globetrotters
We are, once again, overloaded by the same boring wish cards illustrating snowy landscapes, glitter trees, Santas and reindeers. Is this tradition actually worth the waste of resources?
Before the internet reconfigured our social manners, I would have been rather sanctimonious about Christmas cards, mainly because I, as a Catholic, rather resent the vulgar commercial aspect of a materialistic Christmas. But now, I believe that anything that redresses the balance of the alarming overuse of social media is good. Therefore, I have come round to supporting the Christmas card per se. I admit, however, that there are problems with this. First, so many cards are printed with unspeakable chocolate-box scenes of Yuletide that lead to visual headaches. Second, there are always the common few who do not write anything in their cards and send them with stamped signatures, like Elton John (just as one thought of showing it off on one’s grand piano). Third, faux Christmas cards are sent as images on the internet, thereby defeating any protest vote against social media. Maybe the best approach to this annual irritation, like the sight of the ghastly Christmas lights at Regent Street or Oxford Street, is to resign to the fact that at least it is a time of year when we have a few days to rest and park our problems, in the knowledge that nasty people like bailiffs are not at work.
A colleague and I recently discussed the ideal dinner party and agreed on two guests: yourself and Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry. Who would be your ideal guests, and have you ever worn a dress to dinner?
How flattering. I love Grayson Perry and his works, particularly the verses he writes on his vases. I started collecting them years before he won the Turner Prize. In the dining room at my home in Hong Kong, I have a huge black-and-white photograph print of him, with cascading locks of hair and dressed in a massive frock. My wife hates it and invariably sits with her back to it. Maybe she thinks Perry is a bad influence and might make me develop a tendency to cross-dress, although given my colossal calves, I doubt I would ever want to go round in stockings and stilettos. The nearest to a dress that I would wear is the classical Chinese robe which resembles a secular cassock. I donned one of these when I received my gong on the last day of British rule in Hong Kong from the Prince of Wales who remarked: “Glad to see someone properly dressed!”. For my dream dinner, I would simply have Mia Farrow who had relationships with Frank Sinatra, André Previn and Woody Allen. To have lived a life with this extraordinary spectrum of people is unique, and she is absolutely beautiful to boot. Only last week, I watched again Rosemary’s Baby. Even in a horror flick, Miss Farrow appeared angelic.
Belgium is also home to the Smurfs, but don’t tell former US president Bill Clinton that the saxophone is not an indispensable instrument.
Ah yes! I forget Les Schtroumpfs! They are not entirely unfunny, but funny characters in comics should rely more on absurd behaviour or supreme irony rather than mere ridiculous appearance. As for Clinton, I suspect he would regard any instrument that blows indispensable.
Don’t you think your opinions on Brussels and its greedy bureaucratic members have a shade of populism?
I would even say a monster penumbra of truth.
Are cushions with messages acceptable?
Yes, if the messages are embroidered and the words are witty. I have always liked “If there is a will, there is a relative”. But the best kind of cushions are those made into small pillows. In my advancing age, I only recently discovered how comfortable they are to sleep with. They are now indispensable and on these pillows, I wouldn’t mind embroidery, like Yeats’s cloths of heaven, a bit more along the lines of treading softly on one’s dreams, or Neruda on writing the saddest lines in the night, or Li Bai on sleeping beneath a beautiful moon. These lines are always best reminded, gently, on the threshold of the Land of Nod. They also provide something intelligent to talk about with one’s wife or lover in bed.
I have Einstein’s formula E=MC2 sewn in four colours on one of my small pillows. On many occasions, I have tried to explain its significance to my wife. Although she started off with a vague sense of curiosity, she is now bored to tears by still not comprehending either Einstein’s genius or my pathetic explanation of his formula. But that is precisely one’s cunning way of securing peace and quiet in the spousal bed.
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