ON last Wednesday afternoon the people of Hongkong could, out of a line up of political pantomime artists for the SAR Preparatory Committee, spot their future government. They knew too, bar the shouting, that it would cost $60 plus mileage on the meter to take a taxi through the third harbour tunnel. They had been told by their existing government that all of Hongkong's inflation problems were due to vegetables, and had read of a gweilo advertising agent trying to unsue Li Ka-shing over a rabbit. Then there was the heat. In other countries of my acquaintance, people slow down in inverse proportion to the rise in temperature. Only among the Cantonese does heat whiplash them into a lather of activity. Perhaps it was all that news to take in, too. By 3pm the entire city between Central and Wan Chai was moving at the double in 32 degrees Centigrade and a shine that would have taken the corneas off Icarus. More motor cars came on to the roads to better reflect the sun. Drivers, for whom an instrument panel is but an extension of a video games centre, revved them up to see if they could get the little needle into the pretty red section. Gweilo Suits picked up their step to the heat, double pumping perspiration as they cut down time back to Coronary Court. In Queen's Road East, this was just the sort of afternoon to tear down the side of a building, block off 50 metres of pavement and tell pedestrians to go play in the traffic, protected by one stolen traffic cone. When the police and the Government tell you to walk on the pavement, you walk on the pavement. When a minor developer with nose hair and a mobile phone tells you to get into the road, you jump. This brain-bubbling afternoon was just the time for love. On a bench at Pacific Place Level Two, a pair of schoolchildren were making it. For a recent article, I had stalked the dark spots of nighttime parks to report on this; and all I had needed was anafternoon in Pacific Place's air con. In the street, three young men, arms over shoulders, heads turned 180 degrees, were whistling and whooping at a passing beauty. Love was not far from me either. I went to my local market - Gresson Street. It is the only one I ever use because it is short and I can see an end to it, and it is flat so I do not toboggan on a dangerous shard of inflationary vegetable. The mayhem in there would have turned a British football crowd on its heel. My Cantonese is far from perfect but I knew the cry was up among the older women. ''Temperature's rising out there girls. Let's get into Gresson Street and jam!'' No, they are not jazz players. The ancient Chinese assertion that if you have three women together, you have a market, has an extension. You also have a road block. Old ladies with imperfectly dyed hair walk at a pace that is scientifically indistinguishable from a standstill. Others with some urgency, or of Occidental stride, are left making fair imitations of Nijinsky on a hot tin roof attempting to get round them. This leaves the unwilling shuffler vulnerable in the heat; to the man bearing an oriental resemblance to Khrushchev taking out the shuffler's inner ear with the good news about his melons; to the wobbly tray of freshly-squared beancurd which its vendor pushes fatalistically into the pathway; to all goods drying and crinkling carcinogenically in the sun; and to the gweipor with the protruding bum and bristles up her legs, demanding: ''Thewse. Ova thaar. Heow mach?'' Most threatening is that which cannot be seen, the Daya Bay of Gresson Street, the butcher's shop behind the stalls. Towards it that afternoon in a haze of death, came a coolie in a crouch jog carrying a whole pig, slit from head to toe, but otherwise perfectly formed. Hollering, he was making for the access between stalls blocked by a microscopically moving old lady and me who was behind with nowhere to go except forward. Neither old lady nor I wanted a cuddle with the corpse. We panicked in opposite directions, she turning into my tummy and lower arms as the late Porky brushed by. For a second, we stood that way until she looked up at me with a smile on her face. ''Lei gong siu mare'' she bawled coquettishly and moved off with unusual speed. The long hot summer in this inner city could be full of surprises.