Eat, drink and be very scared

Chinese food such as lemon chicken and sweet and sour pork is now popular in the West. But as an expat lawyer working in China, the eating experience can be quite different, and sometimes verging on the horrifying.

Pot Noodle: try it on your Chinese clients
Pot Noodle: try it on your Chinese clients

Peter Bradley, a London partner at Stephenson Harwood, spent several years in the firm’s Hong Kong office in the 1990s. He recalls that he was once offered deep-fried scorpions by his client while working on a deal in a rural town in China’s Anhui province. Trying not to disappoint his host, Bradley took a tiny bite of the local delicacy.

Although times have changed, the tradition of offering guests the top local produce remains in certain parts of China. So if ever you’re offered something thing you don’t take an instant fancy to, whether it be snake, cicadas or bee larvae, here is Bradley’s advice: “Take the plate and pass it around, offering it to everyone at the table. With a bit of luck there’ll be none left when it’s your turn.”

Genius is often born of great – and sometimes uncomfortable – experience. Just ask Bradley.

Furrowed browse

Tulkinghorn learned recently that some rarely heard-of US firm known as Davis Polk had hired a Freshfields blue-blood. It is one Simon Witty, who specialises in something called ’capital markets’. Well, of course it’s capital. Everything at Freshfields is capital and top-hole, don’t you know.

Tulkinghorn, a big landowner out in the sticks, was a little confused when he first saw this story as the only Simon Witty he was aware of is the four-time winner of the World Reversible Ploughing Championships. Check out to see if it is, indeed, the same landed gent.

Pitch perfect

Tulkinghorn could not resist the temptation to scream ’Howzat?!’ when news reached him that Giles Clarke had been given a CBE in the New Year Honours list.

Why, you ask? Because not only is Clarke chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board, he is also the son of the founder of Osborne Clarke, himself a CBE.

Tulkinghorn sincerely hopes the announcement was greeted with an intense round of office cricket in the firm’s open-plan – and therefore perfect for the great game – offices.

Card sharp

Staying with all things Far East, Tulkinghorn is well aware of the cultural danger associated with business cards, particular on the rare occasions he has travelled in China. But he recently learned from a City partner that dishing them out over here can be fraught with perils too. The partner in question was on the point of handing over his card when he spotted a scrawl on the back courtesy of his teenage son, spelling out the charming observation, ’Knobhead’. Luckily, he had a few other cards handy.