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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Yvette Cooper campaigning in London at the launch of Labour’s women’s manifesto  

I want the Labour Party to lead a revolution in family support

Yvette Cooper
Liz Kendall  

Labour leadership contest: 'Moderniser' is just a vague and overused label

Steve Richards
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine