Absence of absence makes heart grow colder
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Absence of absence makes heart grow colder

The government’s response to the coronavirus has forced me to spend more time at home. Unfortunately, my wife is doing the same thing.

Since my diet is split into two main food groups ─ bread and ‘liquid bread’ ─ I was apoplectic when Hong Kong decided to ban bars and restaurants from selling alcohol. I thought there was nothing more they could do to disrupt my retirement, to ruin the careful balance I had established in my life.

I was wrong.

My dear wife, Tai Tai, has not made an appearance in this column for some time. That is largely because we live rather separate lives, having different groups of friends and markedly different hobbies. We have long operated on a version of that charming old line: "absence makes the heart grow fonder". We put more emphasis on the absence bit than the fond hearts bit, but it’s close enough.

Tai Tai has been busy of late, finding reprieve from the coronavirus with frenzied bouts of shopping. Nowadays, she has swapped Lane Crawford for local supermarkets, supplementing our growing collection of toilet rolls, rice and tinned food with toilet rolls, rice and tinned food.

She also spends much of her day playing mah-jong. I once asked Tai Tai to explain the rules of the game to me. She merely said ‘go away’. Quite simple rules, then, but ones which I’ve followed diligently over the last few years.

However, the Hong Kong government has now closed mah-jong parlours, taking away the one source of peace and tranquillity I had left in my life. I now spend almost every waking moment with my wife, hearing about her favourite books, her mother, and a long-running feud with her sister.

Until this week, I didn’t even know she had a sister. 

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