Thursday, September 06, 2007


February 2003

A couple of days later, I was in Newcastle airport, returning to London. Since it was nearly 4pm UK time, I called Maggie before getting onto the flight.

We talked for a while, and then I warned Maggie that I had less time than usual, as my flight was at 4.45pm. She said, ‘honey, I spoke to my father today’

I was surprised. I didn’t immediately connect this to the conversation we’d had earlier in the week. ‘You did?’ I asked.
‘He said he wanted to speak to me because my mother told him that I am getting married’
‘Shit babe, I thought you promised me to wait’
‘Honey, I know but mother wanted to tell him now. We tried yesterday, but could get connection’

‘So what did he say?’
‘Quite surprising. I never expect this. He asked me to resign my job, so I can spend more time with my mother, before I go to UK. He ask about you, and said that I must be old enough to make decision about my future life’

‘Babe, I can’t agree to that. You mustn’t give up you job’
‘But if you say that, means you are not serious to me, means you don’t really want to get married’
‘No. It is just such a big step. We need time to think it through’
‘What is there to think? Honey, I have to quit the job if I come to UK. So what is the difference’
I hadn’t really thought about that. I never really thought about her coming to UK. What could I say? Her argument was logical.
‘Look it is just a shock that’s all, let me think about it for a while, get used to it. When are you thinking of resigning?’
‘Tomorrow? Babe just wait a couple of days’

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

My father

February 2003

The following night, we’d barely said hello, when Maggie said, ‘you know what honey, tonight I have the dinner with my sister and mother, as I told them we will get married at Easter, and I will move to UK to be with you’
‘Babe, I thought we agreed to wait before telling them’
‘Ha ha, honey I know we did but, but I cannot wait. You know I am such a rush person, I never can wait’
Her laugh was so infectious that anger was impossible. ‘What did they say?’
‘Well my sister question me. She say I do not know you long. How do I know you will treat me well? Are you really serious to me, or are you playing the games. That kind of thing’
‘I thought those bloody questions had gone away’
‘Honey, don’t be angry. You know she care of me only. She always treat me like another daughter. But you know what honey, my mother defended you. She say you are the good guy, very sincere and very loving to me. When my mother say that, then my sister agree. So I am very happy’
‘But you should have waited’
Honey, don’t say that, or I will be unhappy’
‘Ok babe’
‘He he he he he’

‘Right, don’t do anything else. Lets talk it through properly next week, when we are face to face’
I felt in danger of losing control of all this. I had this picture in my mind of Maggie’s family arriving in London. Then what? Would they be able to find me? I knew Maggie had my office address. But what could they do? They could cause me a lot of discomfort, I knew that.

‘Honey, my mother say that they have to speak to my father’
‘Well he has to give his approval’
‘Does he? Why? Babe, please wait until we have spoken next week’

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hong Kong again

February 2003

‘Of course we cannot share with someone else. We will need some privacy. Tom’s room is right next to mine. I can hear him snore. I think you know what I am talking about’
‘Naughty honey. But you are right, I agree. But you will have to take responsibility for that. How long will it take?
‘I don’t know. I know the property market is booming’

That evening I started to formulate a plan to return to Hong Kong, and the following day wrote to Henry that I wanted to meet up to catch up with outstanding actions, and start the process of moving more work to Shanghai.

Fortunately, he gave his support, and suggested that I make my visit to Hong Kong coincide with Nicky’s trip from Shanghai.

Armed with this, I sought the usual approval, suggesting that I would need one week.

A phone call from my boss soon followed, he questioned the need for the trip, and said that I had been absent a lot recently. In the end we compromised on a four day trip which included a part working weekend. But at least I was going to Hong Kong again at the end of the month.

The message was clear though; my trips would get closer scrutiny in the future. Maybe this really was my last trip.

Maggie was very happy when I gave her the news. ‘It’s only 4 nights though babe’
‘Still I am happy. Now I will see you soon’
‘Then we can talk properly about our plans’ I suggested.
‘Ok honey, I can’t wait. Where will you stay? Let me check for you. Find somewhere more convenient than the City Garden’
‘But my company get a corporate rate there’‘How much they pay? I might be able to get a promotion offer at another hotel. Save money. I will let you know tomorrow’

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I know how to handle

February 2003

‘I am confused’
‘Don’t worry honey, I will ask my mother. I know how to handle. Trust me’
‘I do. Will she be upset?’
‘I don’t know. Maybe.’
‘Well don’t upset her’
‘Honey, don’t worry, let me deal with it’

The following morning I had a note saying ‘Honey, Tonight I will have the dinner with Mother and Sister, I will tell them that I have to move to UK’

I tried to call her, but she was not at her desk, so I left a voicemail. Then I had to go to a meeting, and so I missed her call in return.

It was quite late when I called. She told me ‘Mother said I cannot live with you. She said we have to register first. Sister agree with her. She scold me, saying I should not ask’
‘Is that the same sister who lives with her boyfriend?’
‘No, she doesn’t. He has his own house’
‘But still he stays at hers’
‘And he will marry her soon’
‘Don’t know, maybe at Easter’

‘And surely, at your age, you can make your own decisions’
‘But then they will be unhappy, and my father and brother will scold me’
‘Your father? You don’t even speak to him’
‘Sometimes I do, just don’t have too much to say. But I cannot leave my mother without his permission’

‘So honey, we just have to stick to the original plan’
‘Which is?’
‘We will marry at Easter in Las Vegas, and then I will come to UK. Can you be ready for that?’
‘Well I will need to find somewhere else to live’
‘Do we?’
‘Of course, I share the apartment with Tom, and my house will be let by then. I don’t think we can share with someone else’
‘Not convenient, is it honey?’

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Monday, June 18, 2007

What clothes should I bring?

February 2003

A couple of days later, Maggie asked; ‘Any more news about the Hong Kong transfer’ So I told her, ‘The contract has been delayed, just not too sure when it will be awarded.
‘Do your Hong Kong company have any other work?’
‘No. There doesn’t seem to be much work in Hong Kong’
‘I know the economy is not good’
‘I’m sorry babe, I don’t know what else I can tell you’

‘Honey, do you think I could come to UK?’
‘Well that’s what we planned remember, you come over at Easter’
‘Honey, I’m thinking I could come to UK to live with you, until you get the transfer, you know I don’t want to wait’
‘But what about your job?’
‘I will quit the job. I know is a good job, but you are my future, so job is not my first priority’
‘Are you sure you want to do that?’
‘I think so. What else can we do? My job is not such a good job as you’
‘Have you said anything to your mother?’
‘No. I tell you first. But honey, you have to tell me, any reason why you don’t want me to come to UK’
What could I say? ‘No, of course not. What did you have in mind?’

‘When are you thinking you will come over?
‘After Easter’
‘So you won’t come over for Easter?’
‘Still can come, see how I like it. What clothes should I bring?’
‘Something warm, but don’t worry about that now’

‘And are you saying that you will come here to live before we get married?’
‘That’s what I think’
‘But you said before that we couldn’t just live together. You said your family would not accept it’
‘You know for me, married or not married doesn’t matter, but for them, they will say ‘why he don’t register with her? Maybe he is just playing the games with her’. They will be worried’
‘What even though they have known me this long?’
‘Honey is still only a couple months’

Friday, June 15, 2007


February 2003

‘Babe, we can talk about it later ok. Please don’t talk to anyone else before then’
‘Ok honey, call me anytime’

This gave me a few hours to think. I was rather enjoying all the talk of marriage, but I didn’t want her talking to her mother or, even worse, her sister. I didn’t want to create that expectation.

I called her minutes before our agreed 11pm curfew. ‘Babe, I don’t think you should talk to your mother yet. Not until we are have definite plans’
‘I think I need to tell them something’
‘Yes, but just wait until I can find out a bit more information. I might need a visa to go to US, I don’t really know, and do we need to book anything? I am not sure. So better find out first’
Reluctantly ‘Ok honey’
‘And as I said, I am not happy to marry until I am certain of my transfer to Hong Kong’
‘Any news, honey?’
‘Well, I checked, and it seems as if the contract has been delayed, its not a certainty yet, but that’s the way it is looking. And without that contract the business in Hong Kong is really struggling. They don’t have much work. Certainly not enough to cover my expat salary’
‘So what shall we do?’
‘Well let me double check first babe’

Then I asked, ‘weren’t you planning to come to the UK for Easter anyway?
‘But you know honey, I think UK can wait’
‘I was just thinking it would be better if you met my mother before we got married’
‘But honey, I don’t think you are that close with your mother’
‘Oh, why not?’
‘Because, the western families are not so close, not like us, as soon as the children growed up they leave home. Look at me honey, still living with my mother, I don’t think you will do that’

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Now it is different

February 2003

‘Babe, I am saying for example only. Hopefully it will be much less than that, but you see what I mean? How can we go and get married and then be forced to part?’
‘You still don’t know when you can come over, right?’
‘No. The business here is very busy, but in Hong Kong, the business is quiet. They expect to win a big contract, if that happens, they may need me quite quickly, otherwise it could take some time’
‘I never know this when I met you. Then I think you are living in Hong Kong already. Now it is different. I love you already. Well honey, you never know, maybe your company will get the project soon, and then we can go to Las Vegas’

Then I asked her if she’d heard about the illness in Guangdong.
‘No honey, we haven’t heard of that, but is not surprising, the people of Guangdong are so dirty. Never know how they can live like that’
‘I doubt they get much choice. Anyway, I am not sure this illness is caused by being dirty’
‘What is the causes of that then?’
‘I don’t know. I just mentioned it, so that you can be a bit more vigilant. If you get another cold, or flu, you should go straight to the doctor’
‘Ok honey, but I am ok now’

After that, the story went away, and we didn’t talk about it again.

The next I had the following note:

I will talk to mother and sister, and tell them that we will get married at Easter’

I wrote a quick reply; ‘Babe, please do not talk to them, until we have had chance to speak’

But then I decided to call her, even though I knew she would still be at work, in case she hadn’t received the email.

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