The way Cheung tells it, her childhood would have been isolated even with the benefit of 21st century social media. Her parents emigrated to England from Hong Kong in the 1960s, and found themselves strangers in an indifferent, often racist and occasionally hostile land. Their own reluctance to speak English did not help matters, nor did their refusal to embrace English culture in any way.
But perhaps the biggest barrier separating the Cheungs from the world around them was the restaurant itself. “My parents worked every single day – apart from Christmas Day,” Cheung recalls. She was expected to muck in from an early age. This meant helping out in the kitchen. Later she would serve customers the moment she arrived home from school. “You never had a break. There was no social life. You never left the takeaway – especially if you lived above the shop. You never even left the building,” she says.