Record sales? Or record flops? The paddles waved by buyers at Christie's and Sotheby's sales in Hong Kong next week are one good way of testing the waters of regional financial stability. Market watchers will be waiting with interest to discover the fate of the fancy pink diamond with a Christie's estimate of $8 million or the extremely rare early Ming blue and white basin which Sotheby's hopes will sell for more than $4.5 million. Apart from those who want to buy, these auction previews offer art lovers some of the best opportunities to see important works of art in Hong Kong this spring, after the collapse earlier this month of Tresors in Singapore and Hong Kong's Art and Antiquities Fair. Head down to the Furama Hotel before Monday evening for the Sotheby's preview. As well as that rare basin and other special blue and white ware from the Ming and Qing dynasties, highlights include a selection of modern and contemporary art. As with the Christie's sale at the nearby J W Marriott hotel (viewings today and tomorrow) there are many works by Zhang Daqian, the auctioneers' most beloved Chinese artist, most of whose work commands five if not six-figure bids. Not everything is so expensive: snuff bottle collectors can tour a few private collections of these tiny flasks that are as highly decorated as they are useless (when did you last see a snuff sniffer in Hong Kong?). See the back page for auction times. Delicious Greene on stage Roger Lloyd-Pack was once revealed as Britain's 'most unlikely sex symbol'. The British actor who has played the gormless Trigger in the successful TV comedy Only Fools and Horses for 15 years, claimed he has often been chased by groupies with lustful fantasies about men in donkey jackets. 'Women often rush up to me and plant a smacker full on the lips,' he apparently told the Sunday Mirror. Lloyd-Pack, who also appeared with Dawn French in The Vicar of Dibley, and has numerous film, theatre and TV credits, will be making his first appearance in Hong Kong next week. With Edmund Pegge (known eclectically for poetry reading and appearances in Tenko), Diane Bohm and Nigel Miles-Thomas, Lloyd-Pack will appear in an adaptation of Grahame Greene's Travels with My Aunt at the Ritz-Carlton on April 27 and 28. The story is deliciously Greene: fusty suburban bank manager Henry meets his unfusty Aunt Augusta, who takes him travelling. A few criminal activities later and Henry is converted - to living life on the edge. The play is staged by London Full Circle Productions (which has sensibly changed its name from London Globe Theatre Company, no doubt after most people asked them if it was nice playing in the reconstructed outdoor Shakespearean Theatre), who seem to be offering a spot of competition to Derek Nimmo's long-established dinner theatre at the Conrad. Dinner and adventures with Henry cost $650. Call 2877-6666 ext 8010 for bookings. The region's hub of culture Hong Kong may be the new 'City of Life' according to the Hong Kong Tourist Association blurb - even though any city in India would seem to qualify rather higher in the lively street-scenes list - but Shanghai certainly seems to be the 'City of Culture' in this part of the world. As well as a new museum, the new opera house opening in September and plans for a new museum of modern art, Shanghai is hosting plenty of culture-oriented conferences this year. Next week the city will be hosting Asia's first symposium on the urban cultural environment. Ten international sculptors and artists, including Bernar Venet (whose curled iron works were mistaken as part of the building site of the museum at French May two years ago, Christo (who wrapped the Reichstag), and Jean-Pierre Raynaud (who put golden pots into the Forbidden City), will be joined by mainland artists and historians including Mi Qiu, Pan He and others. Seminar topics will include the planning of city sculptures, and - more practically - artists' suggestions on new developments for Pudong. The event is co-presented by Alisan Fine Arts and is supported by the Shanghai Municipal People's Government.