Farewell to the Rat

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Being born into a middle class British family in 1960, I didn’t realise the significance of Chinese animal signs until much later, in 1987, when I moved to Hong Kong and learnt about Chinese culture, numbers, symbols, Feng Shui and other superstitious practices. However, looking back, I don’t remember anything bad about the Rat years of 1972, 1984 and 1996. The world seemed to survive those years without any major disaster and they certainly weren’t significant years for me, either good or bad.

My interest in China began in 1989 after my first visit to Beijing and, moving to Australia in 1995 and working for a few years in the local financial services industry, it wasn’t until the early 2000s, when I made regular visits to China, that I found myself looking forward to the Year of the Rat of 2008, the first time I was fully alert to the possibilities… and the danger!

As a result, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was the first time that I realised that living through the year of your own animal sign was not necessarily a good thing. In fact, it was extremely dangerous. I still don’t know how I survived that terrible year in one piece, but somehow I did.

So I approached this latest Rat year with a mixture of hope and also trepidation, and it was clear from the start that my worst fears were going to be realised. Despite a visit to the local Chinese temple last February (see picture), and carrying around a special red packet with me throughout the year to scare away the evil elements, it will go down as one of the worst ever Rat years, not just for me but for everyone. I know I won’t be the only one to be glad it’s finally all over!

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