Eve­lyn Waugh

Hong Kong Tatler - - The Great Debate -

once said that “punc­tu­al­ity is the virtue of the bored.” I wouldn’t go so far as to im­ply punc­tual peo­ple are bores, but I’m far from a stick­ler for punc­tu­al­ity. Hav­ing said that, I cer­tainly don’t con­done ex­ces­sive late­ness. It’s not at all per­mis­si­ble to waltz into a din­ner half­way through the first course, for ex­am­ple, no mat­ter who your host is. But let’s face it: no event or func­tion in Hong Kong ever be­gins at the time stated on the in­vi­ta­tion. Be­ing on time usu­ally means you will stand around alone awk­wardly drink­ing cham­pagne, so no one ever wants to be the first to ar­rive. As the host of many din­ner par­ties, I feel there’s noth­ing more stress­ful than your guests turn­ing up be­fore you are ad­e­quately ready to re­ceive them. I think it’s po­lite to give your host a grace pe­riod of 15 min­utes or so to com­pose them­selves—heaven knows it’s easy to fall be­hind in prepa­ra­tion when you’re jug­gling a roast, a hair straight­ener and an out­fit to ac­ces­sorise! Punc­tu­al­ity is po­lite within rea­son. But is it re­ally a virtue? There are dozens of char­ac­ter traits I value far more highly in an ac­quain­tance, such as hon­esty and kind­ness. We’d all rather have a late friend than a fair-weather friend.

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