I met the new young owner of China Wok Chinese take-away in the Central Precinct of Chandler’s Ford.
Mr Chen came from Fuzhou, of Fujian province of China 15 years ago. His journey started from the south coast of China, then Scotland, and finally in Chandler’s Ford last spring.
This is his first Chinese New Year with his family in Chandler’s Ford.
Mr Chen doesn’t speak English.
Mr Chen told me that his family are now all British citizens. He is very proud.
The character 福 fú behind Mr Chen means happiness, which is often placed upside-down during the Chinese New Year to show that happiness has arrived.
Mr Chen told me that in 2007, the British government had a change of the immigration policy, luckily he and his wife were granted permission to stay in the UK.
Voyage from China, Scotland to Chandler’s Ford
Mr Chen’s voyage from China took him to Scotland, where he worked in the catering business. He later got married and his 9-year-old son was also born in Scotland.
When the Chen family moved to Chandler’s Ford in April last year, his son’s Scottish accent confused his teachers in Merdon Junior School, where he is now a Year 5 pupil.
Mr Chen only took over the China Wok business in April last year, from another Chinese man from the mainland China. China Wok is next to the well established Men’s World Hairdressing run by Les Oakley MBE.
Mr Chen is shy. He spoke with a soft voice, carrying a gentle smile.
Do you speak English?
“No, I can’t speak English at all, but my wife can speak a little bit English. She takes the customers’ orders.”
Do you miss home?
“Of course I miss home. My mother and father are on their own, and I’m here.”
In the past 15 years, Mr Chen had only visited his parents three times, in the south coast of China. He has been working hard to make a living in the UK.
Would your parents like to visit you and your family in Chandler’s Ford?
“Yes, of course I would like my parents to come here to see us, but lawyers told me that it is very difficult to get them over. Now the British government is very strict. Some lawyers told me that it is almost impossible for my parents to visit England.”
What are your New Year wishes?
“I hope that one day my parents could come and see us. I’ll try my best. I’ll ask the lawyer again.”
The decoration in China Wok mirrors tradition. The shop is beautifully decorated with red lanterns, red Chinese scrolls in bold characters in gold, and symbols of fortune.
The Chinese scrolls carry this message: Wishing you wealth and a prosperous business.
The decoration of a pair of fish on the wall signifies fortune.
A little gold Fortune cookie sachet is pinned on the window. “6 for £1.00.”
Before I left, I asked Mr Chen how he fit into the society: “You don’t speak English. Do you think you understand this place? How are you integrating into the society?”
Mr Chen replied with his usual smile:
“It really doesn’t matter if I fit in or not. I am not important. My son fits in. He will integrate. This would be enough. I’m happy. “
China Wok Chinese Take-away
Telephone: 023 8027 5252; 07722 182 888
14 The Central Precinct, Winchester Road, Chandler’s Ford SO53 2GB