This is an extract from Amitav Ghosh's River of Smoke, sequel to Sea of Poppies. Its the earlier part of the nineteenth century. The opium trade between the British in India and China is close to its demise. This coming out speech seems to have some of the sensibilities of present times -- superimposed upon characters from older days. But it serves as a good template - and also how to Blackmail your parents.
‘Well Puggly dear, I am old enough now to know that I am not destined to enjoy any of the usual forms of domestic felicity. In all likelihood I will live out my days as a bachelor, and I fear that mine may be a lonely lot unless I succeed in finding a Friend – someone to whom I may be a true and devoted Companion. All the artists I most admire had Friends to sustain them in their endeavours – Botticelli, Michelangelo, Raphael, Caravaggio. In reading about them it has become apparent to me that the lack of a Friend has been a tragic want in my life: without one, I shall never achieve anything of significance. But as you know, Puggly dear, it has never been easy for me to make friends – I am not like other men and people do sometimes tend to think me a little odd. Even when I was a little chokra no one would play with me, not even my brother – oh if only I had a penny for all the times I was beaten by the other boys! I’d be a rich man, I promise you.’
‘But Robin, is it not a strange thing to go to Canton in search of friendship?’
‘Oh by no means, my dear Puggly! I have it on excellent authority that there is no better place on earth for Friendships than Canton’s foreign enclave: nowhere else is there such a number of incorrigible bachelors. It is no hardship for them, you know, to live in an enclave that is forbidden to women; since there is also a great deal of money to be made in Canton, it is, I believe, a most amenable place for confirmed solitaries like myself. I am told that at certain times of year bachelors flock there like birds to a wintering hole: indeed some of Mr Chinnery’s own friends have told me so. I have often quoted them to him but this only seems to infuriate him – he says that I am exactly the kind of man who is likely to succumb to the temptations of Canton and he can never countenance such a fate for his own flesh and blood. He was so adamant that I despaired of going. Indeed he would never have agreed, I suspect, if I had not threatened to use the only weapon in my quiver: I told him that if he did not use his influence to obtain a chop for me, I would expose him to his genteel friends and reveal everything about his treatment of my mother, my brother and myself. At that he relented and so, Puggly dear, it has all been arranged: I am to spend the season at Markwick’s Hotel in Canton!’