Much has already been written about Stanley Ho Hung-sun , the perennially newsworthy Hong Kong Eurasian businessman and Macau casino magnate, who has died aged 98. Colourful legends – true, apocryphal and anywhere in between – are legion; now he is safely dead, more tales will undoubtedly emerge. My own brief experience of the man was tangential, yet provided valuable insights for which I remain grateful. In 1995, a lengthy unpublished manuscript written during the 1950s and 60s by then Hong Kong University vice-chancellor Sir Lindsay Ride, and which recounted historical stories about Macau through the medium of its Portuguese-era statues, plaques and memorial stones, was passed to me by his widow. The next few years were pleasurably spent pulling it together for publication. The manuscript was privately nicknamed “The Stones”, to distinguish it from “The Bones”, an earlier work the couple had researched and written on the East India Company Cemetery in Macau, which former HKU registrar Bernard Mellor later completed and published as An East India Company Cemetery: Protestant Burials in Macao (1996). Others had already had a go at “The Stones”. In 1996, when I mentioned to Austin Coates , the British author of popular historical works on Hong Kong, Macau and the Philippines, that these papers had come to me, he threw up his hands in theatrical mock horror: “Oh, my dear boy, don’t touch it! My advice!” Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho dies aged 98 Only much later, going through the manuscript in detail, did I realise that – after being offered the papers himself in the late 70s – he had substantially used “the bones of the stones” for his own A Macao Narrative (1978). Coates’stricken shock suddenly made sense. Regular research trips to Macau were required, so Lady Ride – leveraging long-standing Hong Kong University connections – wrote to Stanley Ho for support. While financial resources were unforthcoming – “times are very tight at present, regrettably,” his secretary replied – complimentary ferry tickets were provided whenever required. The work progressed, Lady Ride died, The Voices of Macao Stones (1999) was published, and Ho was thanked in the preface and sent a complimentary copy, which was duly acknowledged by his secretary. And that was that. Several months later, I happened to be in the gents in the Mandarin Oriental late one evening when in strode two solidly built young men in dark suits. They looked around and glared searchingly at the only other person there: me. When they opened the door, Ho entered, immediately followed by two near clones of the first pair, who stood directly behind him while he eased himself at the urinal. Presented with such proximity, my first impulse was to lean across and say, “Look, you don’t know me, but thanks very much for the ferry tickets.” A frequently disregarded warning voice in my mind, however, suggested this sudden approach might not be welcomed. Just keep standing here, my inner muse shouted frantically, and wait for him to finish and go. This he duly did, after the four personal attendants had reversed their earlier drill. I lurked for a few minutes, till the coast was clear, and went outside; Ho had gone. That was our first – and last – close-encounter. Nevertheless, that brief experience powerfully coloured my own views about fame, wealth, power and all that these two-bladed swords bring with them. Stanley Ho was one of the wealthiest men in Asia, then aged almost 80, with enough money to spend freely for several lifetimes, and yet – for whatever reasons – he obviously felt he couldn’t do, in peace and solitude, what the poorest beggar took for granted. This breathtaking observation shook me to the core, and has remained a valuable meditation ever since.