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Luxury is a state of mind

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The Queen of England “likes to have her cornflakes in the morning in Tupperware, so in a plastic bowl,” reveals Sir David Tang in a city hotel ballroom filled mostly with British expats. This and other little plain things in her life “like watching Coronation Street or whatever show she likes on TV” are a luxury to her – Elisabeth, the Second.

“I’m sure neither an Arabian sheik nor a Russian tycoon would consider luxurious such a plate of cornflakes, unless perhaps if served in a golden dish or some shining-expensive thing.” For the latter, luxury would be a gold and diamond studded Rolex. Nothing wrong with that, it is luxury all right, but that same Rolex for a starving man on a desert island serves him nothing - much less would be considered a luxury item in those circumstances.

Luxury is relative and it is a concept that pretty much lies in the mind of the beholder, thus being one of the things that differentiates us humans from the beasts. That is, in a nutshell, the essential lesson of Sir David on the “misunderstandings of luxury” given at the BAAM-organized dinner.

Tastes may not be arguable, but the Financial Times columnist (House & Home section) also thinks that there is intrinsic value in luxurious items, especially when it comes to intangible assets like art, beauty and the ephemeral. “If someone says to me the Fifth Symphony of Beethoven is bad music, I would say that person is crazy.” The same goes for human beauty: Scarlett Johansson, ugly? “Go and see the best ophthalmologist in town.” When Sir David has a dream “especially an erotic one” (laughs), he feels like a million-pounds.

Speaking of millions, is gambling a luxury? Yes it is, says Sir David. “I myself am a gambler, but I will not gamble in Macau, I don’t like the odds here!” What would he do? “If I were Wynn, I would bring all the stars to Macau.”

In the Q&A session that followed his speech, Sir David amused - and annoyed – the local audience with straightforward and satirical opinions on the new Macau gaming properties. “You can have kitsch, all right, but… not ALL kitsch,” said he while gesture drawing the contours of the lotus-shaped Grand Lisboa tower.

Some people and voices stood up from a whispering audience: I like the Grand Lisboa; It’s striking in a weirdly unique way; It could have not been built in any other place; I love The Venetian ‘sky’. (Well dear, he’s getting even at his failure to enter the Macau casino market…) Small talk, grand words, ideas, debate, philosophy, philanthropy, design, high ceilings, taste, The Fifth, Scarlett, boats, cigars, a black tie: all-things about Sir David.

And fond memories.

“I still remember the Macau that enchanted Austin Coates,” the Bela Vista hotel, the Praia Grande sea-side promenade with its skyline of colonial buildings and Mediterranean flair, said in other words Sir David - and that was “genuine and unique.” These sights are gone, but he still gazes with admiration at the Church of Mother of God’s façade. Pause. Play:

“That is exactly how all churches should be: without what’s inside,” he said to a crowd LOL.

These are the kind of comments that may attract insults against the character of ‘our’ Knight of the British Empire, like the one carried by The Mail on Sunday: “David Tang is a creep.” Naturally, he had to put his record straight: “This is greatly exaggerated.”

The online correction is in itself a luxury. And I’m not talking about the free ride he may have had at ICorrect, I’m talking about the luxury of having the opportunity to paraphrase Mark Twain when speaking about oneself.


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Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT