Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Trip to Shanghai

The standard of service in the hotel was fabulous. When I opened the door of my suite, there were always a couple of young ladies in black pyjamas crouched outside ready to rush in and change the flowers, the toilet rolls, the wallpaper. They called me, in their language, One Fat Important Man, and equipped me with a tiny cup of red wax and a jade seal (called a chop) on which the name was carved in Chinese characters. They also joined in the task, gladly shared by every local we met including senior members of the Communist Party, of teaching me quite a lot of Mandarin dialect: a very pretty way of speaking Chinese, as opposed to the Cantonese dialect, which is impossible to mimic unless you have the vocal equipment of a dying dog.

- Clive James in The Blaze of Obscurity

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