New Year with the last of our filthy rich friends

Share
Related Topics

I have escaped to Hong Kong for the post-Christmas come down. I, like many people, get overly stressed by Christmas. I think I suffer from a loathing of anything that expects me to have a good time. History has shown, however, that the empty two weeks after the holiday, when nobody is back to work, can be even worse. So, we have taken the initiative and decided to ponce off our last remaining rich friends. Most people I knew in the City have been fired, and rightly so. Our hosts in Hong Kong were always slightly more deserving of their ridiculous wealth, but even they were finally faced with a choice – redundancy or move to Asia and sack everyone out there. I've always assumed that, once everybody has been sacked, our host will find himself in a room where he somehow has to sack himself. This, however, is an unspoken truth and still a couple of years away, so we decided to strike while the golden calf is still plated.

I had a lot of friends who moved to Hong Kong in the early 1990s, when we were all leaving university and desperately trying to find a job in a post-room. We knew this lot as "Filth" (Failed In London Try Hong Kong), which was always a bit inaccurate because they weren't even motivated enough to fail in London before decamping East. They were mostly unimpressive but hungry types, and tended to end up in one of two camps.

Some did a lot better than us for five years or so but then moved back to the UK and found that none of their achievements counted for anything. They then had to start again at the bottom. A couple did rebuild, but most just sulked for 20 years and now count Jack Daniels as one of their best mates.

The others (far smaller in number) made a stupid amount of tax-free money and decided that they could never move back. These are the ones that you still bump into out here. There is one in every bar, slightly fatter, massively balder, and desperate to prove to you what an amazing lifestyle he (it's always he) is leading. They buy you drinks and gently tease you about your decision to pay taxes and live in "boring old Blighty".

After a couple of Gin Slings you can almost believe their banter – until you meet their fourth wife, whose grasp of English is unimpressive, and you find yourself alone again and walking through a smoggy Blade Runner of a city, where everything, although named after great British explorers and Scottish ports, is clearly nothing but historical lip-service. The expats you meet here are now weekend global shoppers or characters out of Staying On. They know that their time is up here in this, the new China boiler room, but they are nomads, no longer having any place to go home to.

Even the Hong Kong arrival is different – no longer do you clench buttocks as your plane meanders between apartment blocks before landing in the city centre. Now you land on newly reclaimed sea and drive into town on smooth, anodyne motorways. In a sense, the thrill is gone, but only for those who experienced the past. For everyone else this new world is theirs – good luck to them.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Assistant Plymouth

Negotiable: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd are seeking Nu...

PMLD Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job; Experienced PMLD Teac...

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education is the UK market lead...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £180 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: SEN Teacher requiredRandstad Ed...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?