ICONS OF OUR TIME
NAME: The Old China Hand.
OR: The bitter old expat who sits in bars around town (either tatty pubs or low-end private members' clubs), moaning that life in Hong Kong isn't what it was.
AGE: Usually old enough to have a couple of divorces under his belt, and at least one resentful teenager at school overseas somewhere.
MARITAL STATUS: Her at home can, and does, double up as his amah. She's his third wife, and provided she is prepared to put up with him, she'll be his last.
UNIFORM: Some OCHs still favour the safari suit, others prefer slacks and an untucked shirt - a kind of slob's equivalent of those shirts Filipino men wear outside their trousers.
PROFESSION: Runs his own little business out of a tiny office in Wan Chai - perhaps it's something to do with security, seeing as he started his time in the Far East as a policeman or soldier. Whatever, the hours are good: he's always in his seat at the bar during lunch-time and is there again by 5.30 pm.
DIET: Fags and booze. He rarely eats, and if he does, it's a grabbed bar snack or a plate of fried rice.
HOBBIES: Fags and booze. He doesn't appear to have any kind of home life. In fact, he's hardly ever there. Apparently, he finds his way back once he leaves the bar at midnight each night, but occasionally there is a phone call from a Southeast Asian-accented voice suggesting he drink up and get back because he promised he'd show up for his three-year-old son's birthday party.
ASSOCIATES: There are always one or two mates around (together, they sit sullenly eyeing younger visitors to the bar), but his real confidante is Joe/Sammy/Tony, the Asian barman who has been serving him for the past 15 years. The nice thing about Joe/Sammy/Tony is that he listens when the OCH rambles on about holes in the road, the exorbitant cost of 20 fags, mobile phones, karaoke, the ridiculous clothes Chinese girls wear these days (they were much better when they wore cheongsams) and other standard complaints.
SPORTS: Darts, the odd game of snooker/pool.
LANGUAGES: Can get around in Cantonese but prefers to bombard Joe/Sammy/Tony with colloquial Enligh - firmly believing that if he does it long enough, Joe/Sammy/Tony will eventually know what he means when he says he 'lost a packet on the nags'.
CLOSELY RELATED TO: Old Red Eyes - the domino-playing regular at pubs all over Britain; the cast of Cheers, old Chinese men on park benches.
MOST DEFINITELY NOT RELATED TO: The cast of the Carlsberg 'legs' advert.