19 DECEMBER 1981, Page 14

The Cartland factor

Richard West Kuala Lumpur Liafe in hotels in the Far East is rendered hellish at this time of year by uninterrupted tape music of 'Rudolf the Red-nosed Reindeer', 'Silent Night' (usually played in Hawaiian style) and 'I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas' which for some reason is still more infuriating when it is not sung by the late Bing Crosby. Paper chains, cribs and Christmas trees clutter up the lobbies as do absurd British tourists who paid to get away from Christmas at home and keep asking one if it is cold back in London as though to make sure that they are getting their money's worth.

At a bar in Penang, to the sound of a rock 'Come All Ye Faithful', the Malay barman said: 'I like Christmas jokes. . . all I want for Christmas are my two front teeth . . . I took my vacation in the summer as Christmas vacations are a bummer . . I hear these jokes on Sesame Street . . . I know many more. . . do you want to hear them?' I fled.

In some parts of the Far East this Christmas, the spirit of Good Will does not extend to the British. The Filipinos are furious because we object to their eating dogs. It would not have mattered the Sunday Mirror printing a photograph of the animals tied and awaiting slaughter, nor even the intervention of James Wellbeloved MP. It was Margaret Thatcher's expressing 'repugnance at that horrible photograph' that caused rage in the Philippines and evoked comparisons between Filipino treatment of dogs and British treatment of Irishmen. As a matter of fact it used to be Ireland that raised the fury of English animal lovers. In the 1950s, the Manchester

One hundred years ago