The Chinese are acknowledged masters in torture; I have firsthand experience of their expertise in this area.

It was in the historic lake city of Hangzhou where I had the most traumatic and emotionally disturbing experience of my life. It has left indelible scars on my personality and I have to go through the rest of my life reliving that disastrous night.

During the visit we were assisted by two beautiful, young and effervescent female interpreters. While both were attractive, one was particularly charming and I made the mistake of using her as my interpreter of choice.

After concluding two days of business meetings, our hosts took us out for a day of sightseeing and culture in Hangzhou. We drove along the shores of the beautiful West Lake taking in the breathtaking scenery. This was followed by over three hours of the traditional Tea ceremony in a very elegant Tea House where we enjoyed the famous Longjing Tea which has earned Hangzhou the title of the Tea Capital of China. A gourmet Chinese dinner followed during which we were served the delicious Westlake Fish and over 25 courses of other Chinese delicacies. The meal was sumptuous, the company exciting; the two attractive interpreters were in attendance throughout. I will never forget that fateful Saturday night.

We emerged from the restaurant into a crisp, cloudy, winter night. Light drizzle was falling and the streets were bathed in an eerily beautiful wetness. As we walked towards the car, my interpreter impulsively put her arm in mine and pulled me back. We slowed down and the rest of the party moved ahead. Drawing herself close to me, the beautiful girl whispered confidentially into my ear, “I like you. I like you very much.”

She should not have done that but she did. She should have had the sense curb her emotions but, sadly, she did not.

It was equally my fault. I should have stopped her but unfortunately, I did not. The splendid meal, the beautiful scenery, the charming interpreter, her heady perfume; all these factors clouded my judgment. I looked into her upturned face, saying nothing; I did not stop her.

And therefore, she continued. In her sweet, lilting voice. In her cute, heavily accented English, she continued whispering;

‘You are just like my grandfather who died two years ago.’

Life stinks.