Not to be tackled if you have breathing problems
IT looks like English, but it is in fact a language from outer space that cannot be understood.
We are talking about those legal adverts that companies use to communicate with us, their shareholders, and in particular, this week's statement from Silver Eagle Holdings, a shoe firm that is having some regrettable difficulties with its accounts.
So yesterday, it put a legal notice in the papers clarifying the position.
It gave a full explanation of what it was going to do, with timetables, names, everything.
Amazingly, all this was done using a single sentence. We counted 229 words.
A mini-survey has revealed lots of 150-word sentences in recent notices, including one even longer than Silver Eagle's.
It was two weeks ago when Righteous (Holdings) did a deal with its own directors, partly selling the Satchi handbags business.
Was it a good deal? It's difficult to say. One of the sentences explaining it ran to 239 words.
Four sentences this long would fill the whole space for the Lai See column.
When we spoke to the exchange's Herbert Hui Ho-ming, he didn't seem very sympathetic to the idea that companies should actually make clear what they were up to in simple terms.
Our suggestion is that anyone who disagrees should write him a three-page letter giving a full discussion of the issues, some examples and recommendations. And make it a single sentence.
Little gem GEMSTAR International Group, the company that makes the G-Code gadget that allows people without a PhD to programme a video-cassette recorder, is holding a share issue in the United States, and it turns out to have a surprise shareholder.
Step forward Thomas Lau Luen-hung, one half of the legendary Lau brothers team famous for controversial financial dealings and the camp Entertainment Building in Central.
US reports don't make it clear how much of the firm he owns now, but it must be a lot because he is chairman - and it's being listed on NASDAQ.
It has long been known that the gadget, which uses those funny little numbers in the Post's television listings, was put together by Hong Kong-born electronics whizzes, and it now looks like it was Thomas who came up with the folding stuff.
More than 15 million households now programme their VCRs with Gemstar technology. Well done, Thomas.
Clubbable THERE was a rather strange object in the room yesterday lunchtime at the meeting of the Rotary Club Hong Kong Northeast in the World Trade Centre Club.
Smallish. Wearing a skirt and lipstick. Very strange. Yes, it was a woman.
It was strange because with one or two exceptions, Hong Kong's Rotary clubs still don't admit women, despite the fact that their parent body in the States has done so for years.
This particular woman is Laura Cha, an executive director of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). She's not a Rotarian but was guest speaker.
Her presence may have been lubricated by the fact that this branch's Golden Wizard, or whatever the head chap is called, is married to a senior SFC staff member.
Anyone who has never been to a Rotary meeting before is always amazed by the funny stuff that occurs, with lots of strange names and oddball semi-masonic rituals.
It was fun watching Laura's face when all this was going on.
Brush-off CATHAY Pacific Airways has just sent out 6,000 mailings to Marco Polo Club members telling them that they will be upgraded to - gasp! - Gold Card status if they have flown 500,000 km in the past five years.
That's the English version. The Chinese version on the back uses the figure 50,000 km.
No it's not some subtle attempt to get more Chinese customers. It's a slip-up.
And the bigger figure is the one that's correct, so if you're the sort of person who can't get to sleep for coveting a Marco Polo Club Gold Card, you'd better go out and buy more tickets.
Well, anyone can make a mistake so it's no big deal. What really annoys our Marco Polo member informant is that the main section of the brochure, setting out the terms and benefits of membership, has no Chinese translation at all.
Isn't that huge ad campaign all about trying to create an Asian identity? Time lapse BOY, we sure are disappointed we weren't in the office when this opportunity was left on our answering machine: 'Hi, it's John. I'm watching the Dow Jones Telerate display on ATV World. They're saying gold in Hong Kong is going for 50 US cents per ounce.' Not all slips are so welcome, though.
One well-known English language radio station startled its listeners after Chris Patten's speech on Wednesday by announcing that it was exactly 100 days until the handover.