We were a mixed group of women at the Helena May, aged 20 to 70, with all types of life stories. There were fashion designers, book publishers, newspaper reporters (me), secretaries, embassy employees, even a few doctors, dentists, and lawyers.
But we were all white - the housemother, a silver-haired British widow in chinz once said that this was "because we don't serve Chinese food, and because we don't have separate showers" - and nobody spoke Chinese, or even seemed to be interested in learning it.
We spent our evenings in the communal television room, watching the two English-language channels then available on Hong Kong TV. There were not many male visitors in the downstairs lounge.