When a fung shui master is about to tell you where to stick your Christmas tree, you tend to sit up and take notice. And after exposing my deep scepticism to Master Li Kui-ming, I was a little concerned as to where he might suggest. But without even raising an eyebrow, Master Li, a master of the art of fung shui for 10 years and a devout Shingon Buddhist, drew a diagram of a living room. 'Place it here and it will be good for romance,' he said. 'And here will be good for money.' Relating it to my own living room, quite how placing an artificial tree next to the dehumidifier would help shower me with riches was beyond me. But Master Li had more. Should I place it next to my coffee table, I would suffer bad luck; on my rug, bad health. It would also make watching television rather difficult. I gave him a wide-eyed cynical look but Master Li continued: 'A Christmas tree with its illuminations has both fire and wood elements, two of the five elements in fung shui.' The others are water, earth and gold. So were there other tips for a harmonious Christmas and buoyant 1998? 'People born in the winter will cry at Christmas because of a bad relationship or bad memories. They should wear red clothes and drink red wine or other alcohol and eat chilli food to increase the element of fire. It would be better to send them a red Christmas card. 'The winter is good for people born in the summer, especially if they were born around noon, so they will enjoy Christmas.' I was born in February. Great. But Master Li had only just started with the depressing news. Next year, the Year of the Tiger, would be one of the worst in Hong Kong's history, he said. 'People have forgotten the fundamentals and have been relying on property speculation and the stock market. Now it is time for them to work. 'Hong Kong has become so unhealthy over the past five or 10 years, and now people have to face all the illnesses at once. They need to draw back now.' He predicted the stock market would rise until mid-January next year when it would gradually decline for the next 18 months. However, from mid-1999 it would start its ascent and crash through the 20,000 barrier by August 2000. In property, the market would take a tumble, Master Li said, although the outlook for gold was good. But, I asked, what about me? Master Li looked me up and down. Blue trousers, blue shirt, blue socks and blue shoes. 'Green is good for you,' he declared. Great. 'So is wood.' I gripped my pencil tightly; a good sign at last. Should you ever return to Britain, you will need a . . .' I moved closer as he paused, then gestured, '. . . a walking stick'. Great. As I left his Causeway Bay office with his detailed predictions for 1998 under one arm, I felt decidedly worse than when I arrived. Was that even a slight stiffness in the leg I detected? Of course not. I'm a committed sceptic, remember.