Pondering on the many meanings of pink

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 01 March, 1995, 12:00am

THEY stormed it from the stairs! They stormed it from the lifts! Into the Financial Secretary's office strode the 600! Not quite 600 perhaps, but certainly enough journalists, television crews and photographers to fill Sir Hamish Macleod's spartan room from wall to wall and halfway to the ceiling.

Would the document be pink, as widely predicted? That was the question on everyone's lips.

Up stepped Sir Hamish, his freckled face visible above the heads of the shortish ladies in the front row, the sandy wisps of remaining hair in their usual semi-order,the civil-service smile as standard-issue as ever.

And held aloft, two volumes of his Budget, one English, one Chinese. Prosperity through consensus, they said.

And underneath was a quotation from the third-century BC Confucian thinker, Xunzi: 'The way to make a country prosperous is to be prudent in public spending, to improve the well-being of the people and to maintain good reserves.' 'He was a bit ahead of his time,' said Sir Hamish.

Were the volumes pink? You bet. We even received a press release to tell us this. 'Colour of the 1995 Budget,' it said on one line. 'Pink,' it told us in heavier type further down the page.

'What kind of pink?' wondered the radio reporter aloud, knowing his brief was to inform and entertain.

'Cheerful pink,' said Sir Hamish, helpfully.

'It seems like faded pink,' someone suggested. 'Is this a sign you're fading away?' 'I've got used to the idea that this is my last Budget,' he replied chivalrously.

Afterwards we pondered the meaning of pink. Was it a Pinko budget? A preparation for Red budgets to come? Then it came to us. It was Empire Pink. The last defiant splash of that colour East of Essex.

Today, 200,000 copies of a bilingual budget guide will be distributed free, available at major MTR stations from 4.30 pm or from government information and publications centres.