FLAT EARTH: No change in HK
Sunday 20 July 1997
Cynical, you might imagine, but accurate, if the latest reports from the Special Administrative Region are any guide. Why do old people queue outside banks every morning? They exchange all the notes they have for coins, then sift eagerly through them in search of old colonial examples with the Queen's head - not for love of the old regime, but because they are collectors' items.
A 10-cent coin minted in 1980 has fetched over pounds 1,650, with collectors in mainland China the keenest buyers. Everyone is happy except the banks, which can run out of coins in the first half-hour of business, and one has now told its branches to stop giving change.
Even Chris Patten, the dastardly "Triple Violator", is back in favour, at least with collectors. The former Governor's autograph has been valued at pounds 1,500, "almost an Abraham Lincoln," according to one expert. "It gets you two John F Kennedys, Marilyn Monroe, Ernest Hemingway or Sigmund Freud." It seems that the best way Patten had of enhancing his popularity was to make himself scarce.
Earning a crust
Russia's economic troubles mean that many workers go for months without being paid, or find themselves having to accept whatever their company makes or processes instead of cash, such as saucepans or fish.
In the southern port of Taganrog, pineapples have become cheaper than potatoes, because dockers are being paid with cans of the fruit rather than in roubles. The hapless dock workers are selling the tins on the streets to raise cash to buy other food for their families.
The Kremlin has decreed that all public sector workers should receive wage arrears by the end of the year. But that does not cover private enterprises, so anything from toilet bowls to rubber sandals may still be legal tender.
Photo faux pas
Can this be the same country where Fergie's notorious toe-sucking pictures were taken? A French court has ordered a hotel chain to withdraw a brochure with an innocuous-looking photograph of a couple seated at a table on a terrace.
The trouble was that the man was in the process of divorcing his wife, who was not the woman in the picture. It was an embarrassing time for him, he told the court, which upheld the couple's complaint that the chain should have sought their permission before using the snap.
This case should be enough to strike terror into any British tabloid editor. France rules that public figures like the Duchess of York are fair game, but is strict on violating the privacy of ordinary individuals like the anonymous couple. If "embarrassment" is going to become a hanging offence under any privacy legislation here, one is at a loss to know what the Sun is going to put on its front page.
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM
Which country would be hardest to invade?
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
UK weather: Severe weather warning for snow and torrential rain over bank holiday weekend
Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...