IF you thought organising a party was kids' stuff, think again. Just imagine the hours that will have to be spent in the Joint Liaison Group as grown men haggle over details of the 1997 handover ceremony that the rest of us never realised were important. Like, for instance, the number of flagpoles. Why is that a problem? Isn't one flagpole enough? One goes down and the other goes up, doesn't it? No, not quite. If you want things to go smoothly at the stroke of midnight you need at least two poles. Otherwise you will have to put the ceremony on hold for an embarrassing few minutes while the old flag is untied and the new one attached to the pole. But that's only the start of it. China has at least two flags to raise: The national red banner with the five yellow stars; and the Hong Kong Bauhinia. But is Britain going to bother lowering a Hong Kong flag along with the Union Jack? The Hong Kong blue ensign (Union Jack in the top corner Hong Kong; coat of arms in the middle) is so unimportant to the present administration it does not even merit an official illustration in the government yearbook, although it does appear draped over some sweaty contestant in a charity race. And what about the Governor's flag (full Union Jack with Hong Kong coat of arms in the centre)? If the Governor not only takes part in the ceremony, but gets his own personal flag lowered, should there be another flag raised for the new Chief Executive? And has anybody designed one yet? Expect months of tense negotiations in the JLG as the two sides go down to the wire on this one. COULD 'honest as a Japanese' become a new catchphrase? A report from the Tokyo police lost property office discloses that people last year handed in 2.7 billion yen (about HK$198 million) which they had found around the city. HONG Kong's Commissioner in London, the former Chief Secretary Sir David Ford, excelled himself with his pre-Chinese New Year bash. He managed to attract a remarkable 90 Members of Parliament and the House of Lords, and away from the alternative delights of the Scott Report on arms trading. Ministers and former ministers turned out along with most of the main players at the Foreign Office and the Chinese embassy for what will be Sir David's last New Year reception, before he retires at the end of the year. The venue helped, as it was just a few hundred yards from the Palace of Westminster. But quite what other significance we should attach to Sir David's choice of Inigo Jones' ornate Banqueting House on Whitehall is not entirely clear. The magnificently decorated building with its ceiling of baroque paintings by Rubens was the scene of the trial and sentencing to death of Charles I after the English Civil War. What could that portend for Hong Kong?