Harva James (Jimmy) Yapp, 89, began his journalistic career as a reporter for the China Mail and the Sunday Herald at the age of 16. He became, in turn, editor of the China Mail, Orient Magazine, the Hong Kong Tiger Standard and Sing Tao International. At the South China Morning Post, he served as an assistant news editor, China watcher and leader writer. In the war, he was editor of the British Ministry of Information, China branch, where he met and fell in love with translator Harriette Wong. Yapp was awarded the MBE for journalism in 1977. He is still the Hong Kong correspondent of Asia Today. I was the editor of the China Mail when they had this crazy idea to change it into a masscirculation tabloid. It was stupid. I disagreed. At my age, I didn't want to be editor of a tabloid, so I even consulted a barrister and asked: if they terminate my service can I sue them? He said, 'Yes. Anyway, they transferred me back to the mother paper, the Morning Post, and gave me an increase, and so the barrister said, 'Well, you better just take the job.' That's how I became editor of the China desk, even though all I knew about China was what I read. The China Mail was later sold to TVB, which turned it back into a broadsheet, before it folded in 1974. It was Hong Kong's oldest newspaper. I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1914. My father went from China to Siam [Thailand], where he married a Thai girl. She was supposed to be a princess. At that time, as the saying goes, if you spit out of your window, you're bound to hit a princess or a prince because there were so many of them as the king had many concubines. An uncle was in Cape Town and he asked my father to join him in the grocery business there. After my father died, my uncle said, 'You'd better go back home to your village (Mei Hsien) in China and learn your own language and traditions. Soon I had some trouble with the village chief, who accused me and some of my schoolmates of being communists. It was pretty serious because we had put up placards all over the village, criticising him for levying fees on every table at every wedding and other feasts. I ran, and ended up in Hong Kong. My first job was as a contributor for a monthly magazine, run by a Scotsman. It had a little column entitled Between Ourselves, and consisted of short, little paragraphs. I sent him two paragraphs and he paid me $2 for each paragraph, which was quite generous because on that, for my food alone, I could last almost a week. When I asked him if he had full-time work, he spoke to the then editor of the China Mail, who employed me. I was paid $50 a month and I was supposed to get a pay rise after six months' probation. When my probation was over there was no increase, so I quit. After that I went to work as an ant exterminator for $100 a month. I learned how to find and destroy white ants' nests. One day we were assigned to go to the Peak. As I was stepping along a beam in the rafters it broke, but I managed to catch myself. We had no insurance cover and when the boss refused to get us any, I left. I went back to the China Mail and was offered the job as a freelance sports writer. I used to go to the Happy Valley oval, where the army used to have their league games. I always went to the goalie first and asked what teams were playing and asked him to give me some names. In that way I could cover five or six games each afternoon. The soldiers just wanted to see their names in the paper. There was a saying that names boost your circulation. At night, I covered the badminton. In that way I found I could earn $60, instead of $50. The editor then said he would give me a monthly salary and put my pay up to $80. While I was contemplating joining the Morning Post staff, the local reporters told me they were not allowed to use their own initiative to get stories. I decided, I'm not going to join even if they offer to give me $20 more. I went to the other smaller paper because I wanted more experience. Later I became news editor of the Hong Kong Tiger Standard, before returning to the Morning Post as an assistant news editor and then editor of the China Mail. One time at the Morning Post, its then editor Robin Hutcheon left a note saying: 'Jimmy you didn't write the editorial yesterday?'. It was lost. At that time, the computers were new, they had a lot of bugs, but I knew I had written the editorial and that it was somewhere in the computer. From then on I wrote on hard copy and got it inputted. Harriette and I were married in Kunming in 1944. We have one son and three daughters. During the war, I was transferred from Guilin to Kunming, where I had to prepare a script for her to broadcast. She was working for the Kunming Broadcasting Company, broadcasting news in Burmese, to Burma. She used to collect the scripts from me in the morning, and translate them before the broadcasts. That's how I met her. We were married two years later. We celebrated our golden wedding anniversary at home with the family. We are looking forward to 60 years next year.'