No time wasted getting back in the swing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 October, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 October, 1998, 12:00am

Mr Patten said arriving yesterday was the most exciting thing he had done since leaving aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia 15 months ago.

And he was straight back into the swing of things - with the same sharp tongue and wit, but without the attacks on mainland leaders and fears about post-colonial times. Justifying his verdict that 'Hong Kong is still a free society', Mr Patten said: 'I was reminded as soon as I got to the airport what a free press means.' Known for his skills in dealing with the media, he was mobbed by photographers and television crews on his arrival at the Foreign Correspondents' Club for a press conference - and won applause from the floor.

As soon as his brief opening remarks were finished, he got straight down to business, saying half-jokingly: 'If nobody's got any questions we'll just get on with the signing.' But he pleaded for at least some measure of privacy.

'The main purpose of my trip in the next few days is signing books for people. I would be grateful if you wouldn't make that too difficult.' Dubbed 'Fat Pang' and known for his passion for food, he said he would visit his favourite restaurants and bakeries. He will also visit Government House to meet some of his former staff.