SHOCK news. Lu Ping is a woman. And Governor Chris Patten is planning to move in with her. At least, this is the revelation in a cheeky new sales campaign by Hongkong property dealer L & D. The firm has chosen a political theme in a bid to urge Hongkong people to buy flats in the Rose Garden development in Beijing. Beijing officials have been moaning that they don't want any more luxury complexes, and would rather have cheaper high-rise homes for Beijingers. To smooth the sales pitch, L & D claims to have discovered an affectionate letter between Mr Patten and a female version of Lu Ping. The letter, handwritten in Chinese characters and pictured alongside a single red rose, translates as follows: ''Dear Lu Pingella, ''Do you remember our pledge? I promised you a rose garden. But as there have been changes in Hongkong's situation, I've decided to move the plan from Hongkong to Beijing . . . ''You can choose different kinds of units in Beijing Rose Garden Villas. I'll buy them for you to show my apologies for our past quarrels. I hope you'll forget the past and make up with me. ''The sky changes, the earth changes, but our relationship doesn't change. I'll definitely keep my promises, because you're still my most unforgettable puppy lover. ''Best wishes. Your favourite sparring partner ''Pattie.'' It is all very conciliatory in tone, but somehow we don't think it will solve the political impasse. Mr Lu may find it highly amusing. But we seriously doubt it. Damp squib RED faces were much in evidence at a certain Dutch engineering firm in Hongkong earlier this week, we heard yesterday. The firm, like many others, organised a boat to take staff and guests to see the fireworks from the harbour on Sunday evening. After the spectacular display, the boat decided to take its guests on a little tour of the harbour. Unfortunately, the seaborne Hollanders ran aground on a piece of the West Kowloon reclamation. Can they be blamed for this? After all, the piece of land they bumped into was merely open sea quite recently. This excuse did not hold water (so to speak) in this particular instance. It was the precise piece of land which they had recently reclaimed. Note taken IN our experience, the press in Hongkong has a very strict and clear-cut policy about bribes. We accept them. But sometimes there are cases of money changing hands which are not so cut and dried. At a Lunar New Year reception yesterday morning, Mr Tang Shui-tong, an elected member of Legco, handed out dosh to all reporters in attendance. These crisp $100 notes were not bribes. They were lai see gifts in red envelopes. Reporters, not wanting to fly in the face of tradition, accepted them. What ethical struggles we face! Tea and crumpet HOW interesting that two anti-establishment magazines in the UK are this week being blamed (or credited) with putting the spotlight on Claire Latimer, who runs a catering firm which serves tea to Prime Minister John Major. In fact, Ms Latimer was prominently profiled in The Sunday Times on December 27 last year, in a column called A Life in the Day. This clever piece described her as a woman who ''caters for many top politicians, including the prime minister''. It was illustrated by a picture of Ms Latimer wearing a slinky black mini-dress, lying on a furry white rug. Many readers were no doubt bemused by why a run-of-the-mill caterer should deserve such a high-profile write-up. Sample paragraph: ''We do sandwiches, a hot lunch and soup every day in the shop, and at about midday a queue starts building up.'' But in newspaper circles, journalists marvelled at The Sunday Times' daring. Unpolitic OVERHEARD on a plane from Thailand to Hongkong last week: A Hongkong businessman was telling a female neighbour the oft-heard allegation that the push for democracy in Hongkong was merely a devious ploy to raise Chris Patten's standing in the UK. The listener, who was from Britain, said: ''That's curious. Then how come he seems to get nothing but bad press about it in England?'' Answer came there none. Frozen out HUMOURIST and McDonnell Douglas executive Nissen Davis was shivering in the cold weather. ''I realised how cold it was when I heard that a Wan Chai flasher had walked up to a woman and described himself,'' he said.