FLAT EARTH: No change in HK

Larry Feign creator of Hong Kong's immortal Lily Wong, pictured the masses united by a single thought as they prepared to be handed over to China: "How can I make a buck out of this?"

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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk