Happy New Year, Comrades!

Happy New Year, Comrades!

Coronation Street soapstars were treated liked royalty. I remember going along to the Chinese New Year festivities around 1983. In the middle of it all was a massive stage and a platform right at the front on which were seated the great and the good. In this case, on what I recall as two giant raised thrones, were the actress Pat Phoenix and her partner Tony Booth (Tony Blair’s father-in-law). It was extremely cold and she was swathed in fur and enormous dark glasses and he was wearing one of those Cossack-style hats with the earflaps. They looked for all the world like Brezhnev and Andropov, leaders of the Russian politburo taking the May Day salute in Red Square. Commie Ken and the Chinese High Commissioner may well have been bookended on either side of them. Chinatown itself was small and edgy, but its restaurants were student-accessible, the most popular being Charlie Chans. It had a bit of associated noteriety in being supposedly a popular late-night meeting spot for gangsters and badlads. Sometimes if I couldn’t face Jan’s chilli and if I had the energy, a few of us used to go here after work. It would be at about three in the morning so we really must have been desperate for our sweet and sour pork balls.

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