IAM not a Christian and have never been, but Christianity did me a lot of good during my formative years. That is why Christmas always brings back childhood memories. When I was a little boy, our neighbour Mrs Chan was the quintessential pragmatic Hong Kong person. She worshipped all sorts of Buddhist gods, but became a Catholic as soon as the neighbourhood church started giving out free food. Not that it did her any good. Most times they gave her cheese which she thought was soap. She complained bitterly when it did not produce any lather. When finally told it was not soap but a dairy product called 'chee-see', she gave it to me because neither she nor her son could stand the smell of it. I loved cheese, and ate all that was thrown my way. So Christianity indirectly contributed to my well-being even at that tender age. Mrs Chan's son became a Catholic too. He got baptised in a hurry so he could apply for a tuition exemption in the local Catholic school. In spite of his Catholic upbringing, he was a naughty boy. I asked him once what he told the priest in the confession booth. He said he confessed to the same sin every week - that he had used foul language. I asked him why. He said it was fun because he could repeat the foul words in front of the priest. I went to his church often - to play table tennis. Soon they found out that I spent a lot more time at the ping-pong table than in the catechism class, and I became the youngest person in Hong Kong to be banned from a church. When I became a teenager, I started going to a Baptist church for the youth congregation. I spent many Saturday nights there, trying to act like a responsible young adult, but secretly I was just happy to be there with the many young ladies in the group. The best times were around Christmas, when we had to practise choir singing night and day, so that we could 'spread the gospel' all night long on Christmas Eve - the only night of the year we could stay out overnight with parental consent. I could not sing to save my life, but the promise of female companionship made me overcome my lack of talent, my inhibitions and other inadequacies. Had they known my ulterior motive, no doubt I would have been kicked out of that church too. Apart from the many pleasant moments singing and rubbing shoulders with members of the opposite sex, I also reaped the rewards of being seen as a churchgoer. By spending a lot of time with Christians, I was kept too busy to be led astray by Mrs Chan's son, who became a triad member later in life. My life then was never far from Christianity. When I finished primary school, I managed to get into a famous Catholic secondary school, a stepping stone to Hong Kong University, a degree, and a guaranteed comfortable life for years to come. The Catholic school took me in, even though on my application form I had proclaimed to be an atheist. Throughout my youthful years, I listened to a lot of sermons and became very familiar with the Bible. Armed with that knowledge, I chose a subject called The New Testaments for my school certificate examination, instead of the more difficult Chinese Literature and History. I scored well on that subject, boosting my moderately successful academic record. Again, Christianity had contributed to my well-being. In spite of what Christianity has done for me, I never became a Christian. Why? In the words of Groucho Marx, I do not care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.