Sign of true character

WHOEVER thought up the name Tik Kai-sun for the new Foreign Office spokesman Bill Dickson's visiting-card obviously had a particularly mischievous sense of humour.

Ostensibly, the characters, , take in characters translate as ''to open something new''. But a possible alternative, we understand, is ''deflowerer of virgins''.

Was this an accurate interpretation, we asked. ''Well, it's not one to which I necessarily subscribe,'' he answered from his lair in the British Trade Commission. ''But I wouldn't want to change it.'' It was only after this conversation that we were given the more poetic rendering: ''To start a new page.'' Oscar Wilde would have enjoyed that.

EVERY new consular mission brings its own national day for us to celebrate with a swish reception. The latest addition to the Hong Kong calendar is Schuman Day, as celebrated on May 9 (Europeans will be interested to learn) by the 12 countries of the European Union.

This is not a music festival - the EU's anthem is Ode to Joy (music by Beethoven, words by Schiller) - but something more stirring. According to the explanatory note included with our invitation, it is the day on which, back in 1950, the then French foreign minister, Robert Schuman ''proposed a blueprint for welding together the heavy industries of France and Germany''.

Not long afterwards, as we all remember, they also got around to pooling their wine lakes. Which is why more than 40 years on the EU finds itself reluctantly supporting France in getting Hong Kong excluded from the trade committee of the Organisation forEconomic Co-operation and Development over Sir Hamish Macleod's new wine duties. The Governor will be thanking EU representative Etienne Reuter in person when Hong Kong celebrates its first Schuman Day next month.

NEWLY appointed Hong Kong affairs adviser James Tien has a pretty shrewd idea of how to get things done on the mainland. The Liberal Party legislator made this clear at a meeting of the Legislative Council's Information Policy Panel, convened to discuss the fate of Xi Yang.

''As a representative of the commercial and industrial sector,'' he told Xi's employer, Ming Pao chairman Yu Pun-hoi, ''I cannot join the protest and petition rally.'' Presumably, Mr Yu understood perfectly. ''But,'' asked Mr Tien helpfully, ''do you think it would be useful for us to say something to Chinese officials at banquets or when we touch the bottom of the wine glass together?'' Amazing what you can do over a quiet drink.

IT was Luke, rather than anyone in the Old Testament, who said: ''You cannot serve God and Mammon.'' But God works in mysterious ways. While the Wan Chai Methodist Church has offered itself up for redevelopment, the 92-year-old Ohel Leah synagogue still sits dwarfed at the foot of the new Robinson Place development - and all because one far-away rabbi exercised the judgment of Solomon.

Way back in 1989, the then Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Lord Immanuel Jakobovits, said the Hispanic-style temple could only be torn down if a replica was built. As luck (or some higher authority) would have it, there was no space in the replica forthe synagogue's very un-Hispanic flying buttresses. So the old building was saved and the developers had to redraw their plans for Robinson Place.

Perhaps conservationists could get some senior churchman to stipulate that the Wan Chai church may only be demolished on condition its uncompromising ugliness is reproduced for future generations to enjoy.

THE decibels were flying at Legco yesterday, as the Joint Panel on the Environment, Recreation and Culture tackled noise problems at the Hong Kong Stadium. Vincent Cheng shouted that the cups in his Broadwood Road residence danced to the music at each Hong Kong Stadium concert. He even threatened to fly out of the territory next week to escape the forthcoming Alan Tam concert series, apparently relishing the prospect of a few quiet moments alone with the aircraft engines.

He demanded that the Environmental Protection Department prosecute the Urban Council, stadium managers Wembley International or preferably both. But what he really wanted to know was why Wembley was always hanging up the telephone when he rang to complain.

The Wembley representative seemed surprised at this. The company hadn't received any complaints, he said. Perhaps that was because they always cut callers off before they can speak.