Patten eyed for repeat of history

AT the risk of our fax machine working overtime, we pose this question: Do any Keeping Posted readers remember Sir John Pope Hennessy when he was Hongkong governor between 1877-82? A reader with a keen sense of history drew our attention to Sir John, who was appointed ''after being shunned by the electorate'' in Britain, like current incumbent, Chris Patten.

Sir John had to leave town in haste after, as a newspaper of the day reported, ''scandalising the colony by lashing out at a local judge with his umbrella after catching the man in his wife Kitty's boudoir showing her an illustrated catalogue of indecentprints''.

''Will history repeat itself?'' the reader asked.

We think we are safe to assume that if Chris Patten were to run amok with a brolly it won't be in the vicinity of Upper Albert Road but rather in Beijing where the ruling ''mullahs'' have pronounced a thousand-year fatwah on the poor fellow.