A FRIEND of mine - and before you say it, I do have some - left Hong Kong this week. For the best part of two years he has been complaining about the territory and its lack of grace. I will miss him because he always pays for lunch, but Hong Kong will not. Expatriates do this a lot. Not pay for lunch I mean, but complain about Hong Kong. The rudeness of the territory's people is their favourite subject, along with 'how I survived the typhoon of '76' and the quality of service on Cathay Pacific. For people who supposedly lead such glamorous lives, we really could do with finding something more interesting to talk to each other about. But then my friend said something that made me cock an ear. He said that, with time running out and a new life and decent television programmes waiting for him in London, he was already beginning to miss the very things about Hong Kong that he has always vociferously detested. This is the law of absence making the heart grow fonder. From this end of the world London, with its pea-soupers, roaring fires and pleasing lack of jewellery shops and Isuzu delivery vans, seems thoroughly appealing. From that end, Hong Kong, with its compliant women and sagacious rickshaw drivers (I, too, have seen the Hong Kong Tourist Association advertisements) is the place to be. Complain about taciturn taxi drivers all you want, but remember that in London and New York they actually talk to you, which is worse. This is the way you must look at it: when you want to discuss politics, capital punishment, the weather, President Bill Clinton's failure to balance the budget, Tottenham Hotspur's recent revival in fortunes and the future of the royal family, you should be allowed to do so at your own choosing, thank you very much, and not with a complete stranger in the back of an unfamiliar car. That sort of thing is best left to Hugh Grant. My friend's departure, apart from giving me another welcome option for free accommodation next time I am in London, made me think about the things I would miss, or not miss, about Hong Kong, should I ever get offered a cushy number back home with luncheon vouchers. These are some of the things I would like to take with me: Taxi drivers: for the reasons above. Their job, as I see it, is to transport fare-paying passengers from A to B via the shortest possible route, which in Hong Kong they do very well, language barriers considered. If I want good conversation, I can join a debating society or telephone the Queen. Locally produced English language television: worth watching if only because it serves to remind us all how welcome repeats of I Love Lucy or Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em would be. Particular favourites of the genre - Dutch Singh on Macau Horses At Dawn (set your video recorder for it on Friday evenings), Eye On Beijing's Annamarie Wood who, with a wand and halo, would go a treat on top of my Christmas tree, and Racing Night Live's Terry Spargo, whose bread basket, in its own weekly bid for stardom, can be seen inching out of its owner's shirt at the bottom of your screen every Wednesday evening from 8pm onwards. Country parks: the quiet green bits, but not the ones with flags every 200 metres or so. Those are golf courses and best-avoided. Chung King Mansions: not the same since they vacuumed the stairs, but still the best curry this side of Madras. On my first visit I met some loquacious firemen, who had stopped by for takeaways after putting out a third alarm blaze next door. BBC World Service Radio: you don't have to be abroad to listen to it, but it adds ambience. Guaranteed to suffer from poor reception during the last 10 minutes of important soccer matches. 'And Cantona lines up for the shot . . . shwerzzzzzz zzzzzz phhssssssssss . . . and now, A Story Before Bedtime.' Bubbling under: Christine Loh, ferry rides and Merry Everest. Things I would not miss: The weather: overrated. Miserable in winter and in summer like being stuck in the spout of a steaming kettle. Autumn is pleasant, but if you get out of bed late the chances are you will miss it. Pacific Place: for all of us who have been praying somebody would do something about those pianists, they have - replaced them with a tape of Christmas carols. My local supermarket: absolutely the rudest staff employed by any major retail outlet on the planet, despite what those annoying advertisements may claim to the contrary. Cantopop: an acquired taste. Cantopop stars: why do they wear those clothes? Why do they sound like that? Discovery Bay golf buggies: Watch Michael Douglas in Falling Down. He had the right idea, but took it a little far. Bubbling under: Terri Holladay, Joe Bananas, horn-rimmed spectacles, jocular neckties and all clothes shops where the teenage assistants have been to politeness classes.