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We went to Guangzhou, my wife Joanna’s hometown, for Chinese new year. Spending the holiday with a Chinese family is rather like war, or at least how veterans describe it. I don’t mean there’s any fighting—that’s the preserve of the traditional British family Christmas. I mean the long periods of sitting around doing nothing, drinking endless cups of tea, suddenly interrupted by short bouts of intense action, noise, confusion and fireworks (that is, meals accompanied by fierce drinking). Then everyone sits around again waiting for the next outburst.

We did the rounds of expensive, showy dinners with our two children.…

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