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.