Some Government officials are too busy to appear on TV at three hours' notice, and get positively litigious when criticised for their absence. But one senior civil servant at least has been showing that she knows when TV appearances take priority. Staff at the Australian Consulate General thought they had struck diplomatic gold when they realised that, right in the middle of the row over RTHK's editorial independence, they would be hosting Director of Broadcasting Cheung Man-yee as guest of honour at a reception for International Women's Day. Talk about giving the event kudos and prestige. Possibly the most sought-after official in the SAR this week, and she had been booked for their party. Word was that she would make an official statement immediately before turning up and then turn on her considerable charm for the delighted guests of the Government of Australia. It was half an hour into the reception and people were beginning to look at their watches when word finally came. Ms Cheung regretted. She was unable to come after all. She was appearing on RTHK's Media Watch and making the statement on her own programme. A disappointed Geoff Walsh, the Australian Consul-General, was left to announce the bad news and make the apology on her behalf. Good to see the men and women of Her Majesty's Foreign and Commonwealth Office can still smile after the loss of Britain's last major colony. Joint Liaison Group team leader Alan Paul, still bemused at the eery quiet that has descended on his offices since the handover, Deputy Consul-General Andrew Seaton, spokesman Bill Dickson and Vice-Consul Cara Owen hurled themselves heroically into the 'Hike the Hills for Hospice 1998' event last weekend, with only the thought of a beer and curry at the finishing point to keep them going. We are pleased to report that with 16 kilometres of the Pat Sin Leng hills behind them, and a momentary scare when some joker informed them that the curry was finished, the four raised a respectable $16,000 for the charity. And the name of the team? 'The Empire Hikes Back'. A brainstorm of inventors buzzed and crackled with amazement last month to learn that the 1998 Edison World Invention Expo Award had been won by a Beijing restaurateur for his startlingly lo-tech innovation, a dish called 'stewed pig-face'. The dish, refined from a recipe traditionally used by Chinese too poor to afford more expensive cuts than pigs' heads, is the brainchild of Shen Qing of the Beijing Jinsanyuan Restaurant. Quite how it counts as an invention is a mystery, but it has become a favourite of the city's rich and famous. Guo Xiangsi, chief representative of Edison Invention Centre Asia Office, is a particular fan of the dish, which Mr Shen claims tastes like Peking Duck. Hence the award. State media said Mr Shen had a nose for the best pig faces and took 'dozens of steps' to refine them for the delicacy. The process has been patented.