OOPS!' we said, as we looked through the Week Ending department accounts. 'That's a surprise! Do you mean shark's fin and abalone cost that much? Really? We had no idea. Next time we'll stick to the caviar. 'Oh, and that Concorde flight from London to New York, where we were meeting Mrs Week Ending for a quick holiday on the way to a conference in Macau . . . it cost how much? Well, fancy that! If we'd known, we'd have travelled below the sound barrier.' You can get perfectly good first class seats on subsonic aircraft, after all. Look how well that nice civil service fellow, Director of Social Welfare Andrew Leung Kin-pong, was able to travel for just $70,000 from Hong Kong to London. What do you mean we should have met Mrs WE in Macau? You cannot force us to take holidays in Macau. The helicopters to Macau did not fit in with our schedule. And we were too busy to take a day off in Hong Kong. And, no, of course we did not make a big fuss and demand the passenger who had taken our favourite front-row window seat should be moved out. We did not pull rank, even though we know we have celebrity status here. That is a dreadful calumny. Like the Mrs Chief Executive, Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping, we left it to the department's secretary to contact the airline staff about the matter and it was all done in the nicest possible way. You have to understand, though, that here at Week Ending we are a frugal, careful lot. At this time of economic difficulty, we know how important it is for everyone to pitch in and do their bit by cutting costs. So we are playing our part. That is so crucial to being in a leadership position, being a role model to others. From now on, we will only stroll the Rolls on Sundays. After all, we are asking others to cut back. The maid, for instance. Now she is such a drain on the economy, we have asked her to accept a 20 per cent pay cut. We told her the $3,860 she was getting every month really was 'a bit high in the current economic situation'. We asked her to consider the family and how we were also having to make sacrifices. Do you know? She seemed grateful that we deigned to discuss it with her at all. We are still not sure why she forgot to feed the cat for a week after that, so that it started bringing in mice and birds it had caught and putting them in its food bowl. Perhaps she was simply saying that she, too, could be a role model for someone and the cat should do its bit for the family finances. By the way, we have decided not to go to the mainland for the moment. You know how it is. Being kidnapped in Hong Kong was frightening enough. But once we paid up, everybody was just deliriously happy and there were hugs and kisses all round. We did not even feel strongly enough to report the incident. Why give evidence to the police when the kidnapper is so much nicer in a good mood than he would be if you start causing trouble for him? The trouble is when you get to the mainland, things can get a bit rough. Especially if some tycoon, who has made a few losses in shady dealings with Week Ending Holdings, heads off to Beijing and complains to Jiang Zemin. We could just imagine toddling off over the border to have a suit made in Shenzhen as part of the austerity drive, only to be arrested for some heinous crime of which we happen to be guilty. (How else do you suppose we can afford the Rolls?) That sort of thing does not matter much in Hong Kong, so long as you have a really expensive lawyer, and do not start cutting costs on your legal bills. But in China arguing on technicalities and legal loopholes does not cut much ice. And just because you committed the crime in Hong Kong does not mean you can rely on the Government to ask for your surrender to be tried in the SAR. Come to think of it, it would probably have been wiser to stay in New York. Thank goodness we did not stay overnight in any Macau hotels, but left immediately after the conference. It would be just our luck for some mainland police patrol to break into the room and spirit us away over the border for trial, like that poor Australian chappie, James Peng Jiandong. Good thing that sort of thing cannot happen in Hong Kong. Yet.