AHong Kong lawyer, who had better remain nameless, went out on the town on Saturday night last week, returning home at the indecent hour of 6 am. By 8 am he felt extremely ill and took himself off to hospital. There, doctors asked him when he last consumed anything, and he had to shamefacedly give the honest answer that his most recent intake was alcohol at 5 am. Despite this, the doctors took his complaint seriously, and discovered that he was urgently in need of an operation for appendicitis. They undressed him. He was put into a hospital gown. He was told to lie down on a dinner-trolley type thing. He was wheeled into a white surgical theatre filled with bright lights and people with masks. Finally he was ready for the difficult and painful operation facing him. Yes, I am referring to the filling in of the credit card slip. They made him do this while he was actually in the operating theatre, knife metaphorically poised above his stomach. Perhaps they have discovered that patients are less likely to quibble about signing the bill at this point? Or perhaps they do it this way to make sure the priorities are right. The patient might die, but the route to his money will be alive and well. The woman who tipped me off about this was reminded of the time doctors anaesthetised her and botched up her epidural (a procedure that temporarily 'disconnects' the lower half of your body) while delivering her baby. Two days after she returned home, she received a phone call from the anaesthetist concerned. The new mum assumed it was a call to check that she was all right. But no. 'I just want to check what address I should send the bill to,' the anaesthetist said. This woman, who is pregnant again, and shortly due to check in to the Matilda, has invested in a badge which says: 'I want sensory deprivation and back-up drugs.' 'I'm going to wear it during the delivery and save it to wear again when I get the bill,' she said. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported yesterday that former Australian Health Minister Carmen Lawrence has been charged with lying in court. A politician? Lying? So, that's a crime now? After the Garley Building fire, Neil Robertson wondered about the safety of his office. It was in a densely occupied 20-storey building in a tight space in Central. He asked the management whether there were any fire safety procedures. No, they said. They were were persuaded to organise a fire evacuation drill. They recently sent a letter to all tenants explaining that they had decided to hold the evacuation drill on Saturday, when many offices are closed. Furthermore, 'because of the lack of an assembly area, only three people per company' were to evacuate themselves during the fire drill. What an interesting system. I can just imagine the conversation during a real fire. Manager: Now there's only room for three of us. You and you, come with me. The rest of you stay here and die horribly. There's one good thing about everything being priced at $1,997 this year, says financial writer Chris Duggan: 'It makes a change from everything being $88.' A Hong Kong Bank Visa and Cathay Pacific holiday offer invites cardholders to fly to Japan and 'Challenge the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.' 'Do they supply the crash helmets as you charge head-first at the speeding carriage?' asked recipient Bradley White. The brochure also says: 'A 6,000-ft underground shopping arcade links Nagoya together with Osaka and Tokyo.' They look further apart than that on the map. From an Ong's property ad, spotted by a banker named Surath: 'Escalator, fully furnished, $18,000.' Yep. They ain't joking about the housing shortage in Hong Kong. Contrary to my report yesterday, TV station Asia Business News did have the word 'file' on screen when it showed library footage of the PLA blowing up things during a report on their arrival in Hong Kong. Sorry. My source has been ordered to buy new spectacles and watch 12 hours of ABN chief Chris Graves' choice (ABN? CNBC? ATV World, perhaps?) as punishment. Just a thought: 'It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by resorting to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.' (H.L. Mencken) A roof with a view-Thing are getting lively in Escalator City. The metallic artery has been bringing floods of people (and business) to the tiny back streets on the slopes just before Central becomes Mid-Levels. There are now more than a dozen restaurants, with the New Orleans-style The Bayou the most popular, with reservations needed days in advance. Many of the restaurants are using their backyards as a 'garden dining' area. Tenants living behind the Club Casa Nova, an Italian restaurant, dropped water-bombs on diners who caroused too loudly in the early hours of the morning recently. And a reader who lives nearby sent the above evidence that the new arrivals in the area are cleaning up the 'hood, right down to the corrugated iron roofs.