IT WAS supposed to be one of the happiest nights of their lives. Martin Jacques, the former editor of Marxism Today, and Eric Hobsbawm, the veteran left-wing historian, were spending the Millennium Eve in Hong Kong with their wives. Hobsbawm’s son Andy, an internet company executive, had just proposed to his girlfriend in a restaurant and she had accepted. Half an hour after the stroke of midnight heralded the new century, the six were hugging each other in the street in celebration.
But a few minutes later Hari, Jacques’s lawyer wife, who had also been celebrating her 33rd birthday that evening, collapsed with an epileptic fit as she and her husband waited for a taxi. She was still holding the Gucci bag her husband had given her as a birthday present.