Blasted by the sands of time

Image of David Tang

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.

Oh dear, oh dear – the vagaries of youth. What is the form when greeting an old lover (or even, dare I say, a one-night stand from the sands of time) in public at a party – fulsomely and unabashed? And without allowing the look on my face to show too cruelly the memory of too much Blue Nun and desperation?

I would adopt a blunter approach: go straight up to your ex and say something like: “I know it has been a long time, and I know that you must have been agonising over your mistake of leaving me. To show how magnanimous I am, I am willing to forgive your stupidity and give you another chance. You will have to take me away now, and we must start with an evening at the Ritz. And I want that diamond ring from Graff that you did not buy me all those years ago. Then I want houses in London and Hampshire, and an account at Hoare with £100,000 to start with. If you promise me all that now and show complete contrition, I will consider having you back.” As they say, “You don’t ask, you don’t get!” Just remember Bridget Jones.

Why do my female friends insist on pinning me regularly against drawing room walls and swanning outrageously about their children’s endless achievements, whether they be their jobs, boyfriends, girlfriends, husbands, wives or, worse still, grandchildren? When my daughter was a toddler unable to be put on the floor due to her amah’s insistence, my friend was apparently reading The Brothers Karamazov to her similarly-aged toddler. Some 30 years on, I am still surrounded by great long necks gliding along in the ripples of their offsprings’ celestial wake. I feel chippy.

I am disappointed to see that your friend was not reading to her child Crime and Punishment, which is Dostoevsky’s better novel.

Is it wrong to leave a play after the first interval on realising there are two intervals to follow? I am inclined at my age not to be bourgeois and up sticks and leave early from the theatre, no matter how much I am enjoying myself. No play can possibly last more than two and a half hours – we are not listening to Wagner for goodness’ sake. What are your views?

It is dangerous to expose yourself as a total cultural ignoramus because there are of course plays which can last for more than just the first interval of an hour and a bit. Are you really suggesting that all of Shakespeare’s plays should be guillotined? It would be physically impossible even for their words to be uttered within an hour and a bit. And stop throwing names like Wagner around, as if you would stay for any part of his Ring, which spans four days and over 25 hours. I don’t think you have ever heard Wagner, still less been to Bayreuth. Your pathetic approach to concentration is like saying to all the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago that they should telescope their month’s journey to a day. If I were ever to meet you and find you creeping out of a theatre during the interval, I would call social services to keep you at home.

If Chinaman, then why not Englandman, Franceman, and Germanyman?

Because it is too long to say Czechoslovakiaman. Or because Burkina-Fasoman looks and sounds odd.

David Tang’s little section used to be interesting, but it has deteriorated into a selection of self-serving questions aimed to elevate his social standing and reputation. It has become a bore regardless of how hard he tries to convince readers otherwise. He should be replaced by someone more genuine and interesting. This suggestion should be taken constructively by him, and is not meant as an insult. One who cannot take honest criticism should spend more time with sycophants.

If you think that I am doing this column in order to enhance my social standing and reputation, and that I would become more famous and a better networker, would climb up the social ladder and command greater celebrity status; and that by being a regular contributor to the FT, the most prestigious international paper in the world, I would become the envy of other writers, established or aspiring – then you would be absolutely correct.

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