Disaster. Your Humble Narrator is due to have a new book out in June, but the project was hit by an awkward problem. I realise this news will be greeted by the great book-reading public of Hong Kong with spectacular public displays of complete indifference. The novel, Asian Values , has a simple plot. University students handcuff two strangers together as a prank. If they stay shackled together for 24 hours, they raise a fortune for charity. But there's a hitch. One victim is an Asian businessman (you know, rapist of rainforests and stuff). The other is a female Western tree-hugging feminist. My problem arose when I gave the text to Sussy Chako, a Hong Kong-based Chinese-American novelist, to criticise (ie, praise). 'It almost works,' she said. 'But it's not authentic enough. You should really live the story yourself, feel their pain.' This was completely ridiculous and out of the question, of course. No sane person would allow himself to be chained to a complete stranger of a different culture and sex for 24 hours. So, naturally, I agreed. The publisher stumped up cash to cover an advertisement and pay-packet for a 'research assistant desperately sought for temporary joint venture'. My wife nobly volunteered to select the female victim. This being the case, I assumed I would be attached to be an elderly female street-sleeper with tentacles. But she selected Susie Wilkins, an attractive, red-headed, 18-year-old singer. (Is any further proof needed of the gulf between male and female logic?) Eric Lockeyear, of the Royal Hong Kong Police, lent us some cuffs. The publisher shackled Ms Wilkins and Your Humble Narrator together at noon on Thursday for 24 hours. The experience enabled me to compose the following useful rules. Twelve Bits of Advice for Anyone Planning to Handcuff Themselves to a Stranger For 24 Hours. 1. Do not handcuff yourself to a stranger for 24 hours. 2. You'd assume it would be a bad idea to let your spouse select the stranger, but you may be wrong. 3. Real people do double-takes, exactly like cartoon characters. 4. The novelty eventually wears thin, and the following 233/4 hours stretch before one like an eternity. 5. People in Lan Kwai Fong don't notice anything odd about a couple going around in police shackles. 6. Guests and staff in the Conrad Hotel's lobby bar do notice, but are far too refined to make any reference to it. 7. While offering cerebral explanations of how one's actions are an allegory of East-West influences in Southeast Asian history, members of the media will continually interrupt to ask: 'How did you go to the toilet?' 8. MTR turnstiles are an almost insurmountable obstacle for a handcuffed couple carrying bags. Admit it, MTR executives. You forgot to consider people like us, didn't you?. 9. You may think there are certain private functions you absolutely cannot do when firmly attached to a stranger, but you would be surprised. 10. It takes a female almost nine minutes to pull up a pair of tights using only one hand. 11. The only way to turn over when sleeping in handcuffs is to roll right over the person next to you. Three hours' sleep results in the sleeping pair travelling four metres across a carpet. 12. Attempting to butter a piece of toast with one hand results in the bread whizzing across the table into the lap of the person opposite. Warning: If you try to do this at home, children, please remember one thing. It is not nearly as difficult and embarrassing as it seems. It is much, much worse. This writer is going back to the drawing board. Asian Values will be published by Asia On-Line in May, and Chameleon-O'Donald Publications in June.