NAME: The cockroach AGE: 350 million years old, this Tuesday.

NATURAL HABITAT: The British call it a colony, the Chinese call it a Special Administrative Region - but why quibble over names? The cockroach invaded Hong Kong long before the British and Chinese began squabbling. Their armies have successfully annexed every oven, fridge, cupboard, sock drawer, computer, chair, bed-base, floor, ceiling and window frame. We do not know how to pronounce the word which our cockroach masters have assigned to this occupied territory - we only know that in cockroach language it means: huge-buffet.

STRENGTHS: The only living thing to survive atom tests on Christmas Island.

WEAKNESSES: Poor social skills: it rarely knocks before entering, over-stays its welcome, eats all your Baygon, spurns your roach-motel in favour of your bed, harasses your amah and expects to shower with your wife.

COCKROACHES REALLY MAKE IT IN HONG KONG BECAUSE: They share the same family work ethic. They don't mind eating other roaches. They are happy living in dark, dank, cramped holes and, above all, they believe in the same tenet of life as other Hong Kongers: that is, there is such a thing as a free lunch.

A COCKROACH WOULD PROBABLY HAVE WON THE BATH ELECTION BECAUSE: It has no natural urban jungle enemies. And when a roach says it can walk on water and even fly - it is telling the truth.


HOW CAN YOU AVOID ROACHES? Hide in the deep freeze.

BEING A ROACH IS NOT MUCH FUN BECAUSE: The female roach needs just one act of sex to store enough male seed to reproduce monthly for the rest of its life and account for 35,000 more roaches in its dynastic cycle.

FANS SAY: I've got shares in Rentokil. Did you know that for every roach you see there are another 25 hidden nearby? CRITICS SAY: Squelch.

SUB-GENRES (1): Property speculator. Both have a similar regard for the environment. Give them a loophole and they will turn it into a home for a family of 16.


SUB-GENRES (2): Illegal immigrants. On hearing there were a few crumbs going over the boarder, cockroaches descended in their millions, starting up squatter camps in Hong Kong's every nook and cranny.

NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH: Flying lobsters; finger-buffet snacks from Hunan.