Is anyone out there seeing double? It is uncanny. We haven't touched a drop yet, and already strange visual occurrences are taking place. There it was in black and white: HSBC yesterday launched its Internet banking service in China, making it the first foreign bank to offer online banking to local customers. A 'new chapter', the bank boasted. But the very same day, the Bank of East Asia released a spookily similar statement as the 'first foreign bank to offer Internet banking in China.' A 'brand new world of banking', the bank boasted of BEA Cyberbanking in China. Yet presumably an experience they both might want to forget. FUR MAY FLY Hong Kong's trade promoter has unwittingly stepped into the great pelt debate. It can only be described as a furore in the making. Touting this year's big fashion extravaganza, invites have been sent for World Boutique 2003. Staged by the Trade Development Council (TDC), the fashion fair will kick off at the Convention and Exhibition Centre on January 14. That evening, a fashion show will take place. Guests must however adhere to a strict dress code: 'Back to the Wild.' This entails flaunting your 'fashion leather and fur'. Gasp. Fur? We asked if the TDC considered this tacit condonation of the innocent slaughter of helpless animals? They did not respond. The last thing they need is a rabid Peta (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) campaigner turning up with a bucket of animal blood. Just imagine, all those tai-tai's. Incidentally, anyone trying to complain to Peta at www.peta.org should not get confused with the alternative peta.org which stands for 'people eating tasty animals'. YEAR OF THE RAT TRAP What a poignant start to 2003: get rid of all the vermin in Hong Kong. Sadly, the government is only targeting the non-human variety. Yes, 2003 will kick off with an anti-rodent campaign. An auspicious beginning. Resources will be deployed to tackle problem rats in specific areas. We have no idea where these hotspots are but, as with everything else in Hong Kong, there is a taskforce to handle it. Judging by the comments of taskforce chairman Dr Ho Yuk-yin, a consultant at the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, we are on the edge of a public health catastrophe. He pointed out that rodents are harmful as they can 'bite people of low mobility'. Is that small people, or just ones that move slowly? They also spread the plague, the most famous outbreak of which was the Black Death in London around 1665. 'Though no plague case has been reported locally since 1929, we should not be complacent,' he warns. 'Any laxity may open the gate for plague.' Scary stuff. Such a teeny gap, 75 years. Beware. Adhere to the taskforce guidelines: avoid anyone adorned in black spots, sneezing, with a big cross on their front door. EXCESS REDRESS As you put your beer goggles on this evening, spare a thought for your liver. If that fails, try these hangover cures, courtesy of www.hungover.net: An old voodoo favourite is to stick thirteen black pins in the cork of the offending bottle. Not sure how it works on twist tops. In the middle ages, a plate of bitter almonds and dried eel was a popular cure for hangovers. In Puerto Rico, the locals cure hangovers by rubbing half a lemon under their drinking arm. Chimneysweeps in the 19th Century swore by the healing properties of a soot milkshake. In the Wild West, cowboys were partial to a stiff cup of rabbit poo after a night on the tiles. In Outer Mongolia, revellers recover with pickled sheep's eye in tomato juice. Alternatively, go back to bed.