I have often heard (and probably repeated) that there is a Chinese curse: "May you live in interesting times." Is there really such a saying in Chinese? I can't think of one, and can't even think how I would translate it.
The phrase sounds appealingly enigmatic and understated, and perhaps expresses a preference for stability that might be a Chinese characteristic. You can see why it would resonate with us Brits, particularly in these very 'interesting times' - not just the phrase itself, but that we would think of it as a curse rather than a good wish.