Column Eight: A Patten pleases the locals

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HONG KONG'S stock market is often regarded as the pulse of the local business community. So yesterday's rise on the Hang Seng index - up 55.84 to 5,981.36 - might suggest Chris Patten's inaugural speech as caretaker of the British colony's twilight years left the local taipans and their Cantonese colleagues uplifted.

In fact one senior Hong Kong broker tells me the market's friskiness has a much more earthly explanation. All eyes in the largely male broking commmunity were on the new Governor's fetching 17-year-old daughter Laura.

But the old China watcher is worried that Laura could have a devastating effect on Sino- British relations. Mr Patten may take to wearing his plumed hat once more to reclaim the limelight. And nothing would get up the collective Chinese nose more than a return to that colonial dress with memories of the opium wars and other losses of face.

THOSE artistic souls at the Central Statistical Office are planning to redesign the press releases in which figures for inflation, growth and the like are announced. One draft incorporates a picture of a light bulb, symbolising the CSO's mission to illuminate. Strangely, the bulb is unlit.

A POSTSCRIPT to our note in Tuesday's paper on Joshua Tetley & Co, the brewer, which evidently believes in democracy only when it suits. It had invited readers of the Yorkshire Evening Press to vote on the name of a new pub on the site of a Second World War air base. In spite of a clear majority for The Halifax, the famous British bomber, the brewer opted for The Memphis Belle, a US flying fortress.

But then the local RAF Association stepped in, complaining that the Memphis wasn't British. Yesterday Tetley announced a new name: The Flying Legends. The pub sign will feature the Halifax and the Lysander - both British planes.

GOOD to see that Britain's boardrooms are still managing to find space for the ranks of unemployed ex-Government ministers. David Trippier has joined P&P, the computer distributor chaired by the once-ubiquitous Professor Sir Roland Smith, as a non-executive director.

P&P says it hopes to use his Government contacts to increase its business with the public sector.

But, given plummeting prices and oversupply in the industry, his experience as minister for rubbish during one of Margaret Thatcher's clean-up campaigns could prove more useful.

THE streets of Leadenhall market, around the site of Dick Whittington's old house, are no longer paved with gold. Shopkeepers facing high rents and lease prices and equally unsympathetic landowners are finding it difficult to make ends meet.