BIGWIGS from big business met on stage at a packed meeting of the Hongkong Language Campaign yesterday morning. Peter Sutch, boss of Swire Pacific and Cathay Pacific, could not resist having a little dig at one of his co-panellists: cigar-importer David Tang, who had set up an English-language lab called CELL. ''I believe you can also learn to smoke cigars there,'' said Mr Sutch, to titters from the audience. Tango got his own back. He spoke about Hongkong firms donating money to fund his language labs. ''There will be a Cathay Pacific CELL at Tuen Mun,'' he said. Mr Sutch's surprise was evident on his face. ''Peter doesn't know about this yet,'' continued Mr Tang. ''In fact there may be two or three.'' The cigar aficionado then decided to throw a challenge to all his fellow panellists, and the 100-strong audience. He lamented the fact that few people could recite poetry these days, and said: ''I'll give $5,000 to anyone who can recite something now.'' Several people, including Your Humble Narrator, stirred. ''. . . of more than 30 lines'', added Tango, hurriedly. The stirring stopped. When the floor was opened for questions, Tony O'Brien of the British Council in Hongkong stood up and said he was going to ''recite a long poem and claim my $5,000''. Sadly, he was only joking. Meanwhile, expect to see Mr Sutch deep in Tennyson over the next few days. Crown caught A LEGAL department crown counsel couldn't open his case yesterday - because he couldn't open his case. All the important papers concerning the first matter to be heard at 9.30 am yesterday at the High Court were in his briefcase. But the lock had seized up, and there was no way to get into it. Luckily, the suit, which was being heard before Mr Justice Leong, had to be adjourned for other reasons. Of course, the lawyer could have just taken it into the corridor and shouted: ''Is there a lock-picker in the house?'' But there probably would not have been a great rush to admit it. Number crunch UNITED Democrats support staff were yesterday among the first to move into new accommodation provided for Legislative Councillors at the Central Government Offices. It seemed like a good idea - until they got there. We tried to contact one of Martin Lee's assistants yesterday only to discover her colleagues were as stumped as we were for ways to get in touch. The spanking new offices still have no telephones and democrats have not been told what the telephone numbers will be for lines yet to be installed. Is this revenge for the democrats' abstention in the Budget vote? Was that Hamish Macleod's laughter we heard echoing from a distant corridor? Out of site A CHAP was standing on the corner of Queen's Road Central and Pedder Street yesterday handing out pieces of paper. Bernard Long of Government Information Services picked one up. These were glossy, full-colour leaflets, telling the reader about Wan Ya, a new restaurant. The expensive double-sided production tells you everything you want to know about the new venue - except where it is. Perhaps Wan Ya should be called Where Are Ya? Fowl play THE tone of Dr David Higgins' voice was contemptuous. ''Don't you city slickers know anything?'' he said. ''Chickens can't see in the dark, or in red light for that matter, so they lie still and are easy to catch.'' He was referring to yesterday's job ad for midnight chicken catchers, sent in by Colin Geddes of Standard Chartered Asia. ''When the time comes to round them up, you go in at night time, turn on special red lamps and pick the chickens up without the kerfuffle of chasing round after them,'' said David, who works in the pathology department of the University of Hongkong. ''With the early morning hours, red lights and picking up chicks, it sounds like a typical banker's night out on the Wanch.'' Sober as a judge GARY Knowles, a gentleman from Richard Ellis, told us yesterday that he had been seated with the members of the judiciary who were accused of being ''loutish'' at the Rugby Sevens. They were not that bad, he said. ''Bar one person, who was not with the group, the whole day was good-hearted and well-spirited,'' he added. Well, there's no dispute about them being ''well-spirited''. Meanwhile, policeman Guy Shirra told us about a Welsh radio announcer who was horrified to hear how his team lost by several points to Western Samoa. ''Bloody good thing we weren't playing the whole of Samoa, ay?'' said the Welshman.