HEARD a telling story the other day from Ian Dale, Assistant Director of Marine. He found himself facing a protest by 100 workers from the waste-paper industry. They were annoyed that he was moving them from their Kowloon Bay base to Kwun Tong to make way for the Kai Tak airport expansion. Mr Dale learned that the workers wanted to present a coffin to him, to show how he was killing their industry. The marine official sat in his office on the 22nd floor of the Harbour Building in Central wondering what to do with this depressing object. He did not fancy negotiating with the protesters over it. And they could hardly use it as a table or a bench. But at least he could get it away from the protest scene quickly. He summoned two of his men and said: ''When I give you the nod, pick it up, put it in the lift and bring it up to the 22nd floor.'' Mr Dale took a deep breath, and went outside. The protesters came forward and thrust the coffin at him. ''As soon as I nodded my head, my men moved forward to carry it away,' Mr Dale said. ''But they were stopped by the protesters.'' ''No! You can't have it,'' one of the protesters told him, as they snatched it back. ''We have only borrowed it.'' They explained they had to return the coffin promptly or would have to pay an additional $2,000 casket rental. This explains why you get no vampires in Hongkong. They can't afford the high rents. Scottish accent SEVERAL people have commented on the slogan being used in Hongkong by Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, which is offering MBAs in the territory. ''International reconition (sic) for its unque (sic) World-Class learning,'' it says. Brian Brown of Hongkong University's Department of Optometry and Radiography commented: ''The MBA is probably a Master of Business Anguish.'' Fred Merrill of Italian Motors added: ''Mind you, I suppose this particular style of world-class learning might well be termed 'unque'.'' Roll over WRITER Simon Winchester was recently talking to a Chinese friend who told him she had named her son Egmont. Why Egmont? ''Is it after Beethoven's Egmont Overture?'' he asked. ''What's that?'' she replied. The Hongkong-based writer decided he would buy her a compact disc of this beautiful piece of music to introduce her to it. Since he was staying at the Mandarin Oriental at the time, he decided to see if the concierge, a well-known miracle worker, would buy it for him. But he was off duty and a junior was in his place. Mr Winchester decided to introduce the subject gradually. Winchester: Do you know who Beethoven is? Concierge: No. What room is he in? Winchester: No, no, he's dead. Concierge: Oh! We'd better call security! Everyday tale INTERNATIONAL bestselling author Jack Higgins has just read a book by Stephen Leather, the former Hongkong reporter who is carving a career writing thrillers based on Oriental themes. Higgins found The Chinaman ''as real and hard and tough as today's headlines. I couldn't put it down''. The paperback edition comes out on February 18. The former Hongkong hack will be sent on a promotional tour of Britain. Meanwhile, Mr Leather has written another new hardback thriller, The Vets. The blurb for this book explains that it is about a group of robbers in Hongkong, whose caper goes horribly wrong. ''None of them have taken into account the melting pot of emotion, intrigue and vested interests that is Hongkong today. The twists of a complex plot build the tension inexorably in a gripping and powerful piece of storytelling.'' Doesn't it sound like an episode of Today in Legco? Holiday pay EDDIE Xavier of Pacific Water Controls got a letter from Standard Chartered Bank's consumer loan centre. ''Date: 25.12.92. ''Dear Customer, ''Our records show that as of the date of this letter, your loan repayment due on 25.12.92 . . . has not been received.'' You would think they could programme computers so that they did not send out Scrooge-type letters on Christmas Day. Eddie said: ''What is really ridiculous is that the amount was deducted from my account by autopay.'' What next? Will life insurance firms send out cards on clients' birthdays saying: ''Still alive, then?'' Clowning glory ELISABETH Boss of Tung Shan Terrace was intrigued to read that European Commission president Jacques Delors had won the Golden Bull for being the most baffling bureaucrat of the year. Ms Boss, who has recently returned from Hanoi, said: ''This appears to have been the kiss of death for him, since he is now reduced to performing in the circus in Lenin Park, Hanoi.'' This is shown by this cutting from the Vietnam News. NOTE: Please see newspaper for the cuttings ''This 'well-known French magician' is obviously still baffling his audience,'' said Ms Boss. Mixed hand DINERS Club International HK just wrote to ''Ms Lorenz Zimmerman'' of Siemens offering a discount on a Diners Club card, ''for lady executives only''. Mr Lorenz Zimmerman wrote back. ''I was very happy to hear that you are now offering the Diners Club card to female executives together with attractive incentives. ''Unfortunately, it appears that I do not qualify for these perks as I am not a female executive. However, it is even more saddening that I already am a holder of a Diners Club card under the name of Lorenz Zimmerman and therefore could not even benefit from this attractive offer even if I did consider a sex change. ''Nevertheless, should you insist on keeping my records under the classification of female executive, I would prefer to be addressed as Mrs Lorenz Zimmerman, as I am married.''