IT'S unfair to criticise someone for poor English language skills - unless they are selling a gigantically expensive computer-aided language improvement programme, in which case it is compulsory.
So step forward Apex Computronics, whose brochure was trying to interest Colbert Chan of W.R. Grace in a product called First Aid English.
The courses are multimedia things on computer CD-ROMS. The basic skills package, a snip at $1,200, offers help in the Loudromat and with Car Tepair.
Pay $2,800 for the advanced skills module and you will be able to speak fluent English at a Phormocy.
You will also be able to cope with pregnoncy and horossment, and apply for a car loon and a mortgoge. There is also a legal section, for help with low suits and rood accidents.
Perhaps the section entitled ''Arguing: refund, complaining'' might usefully be the first thing on the disk.
''If the English in this brochure is of any indication, I wouldn't want to buy this series of CDs for my kids,'' says Colbert.
Very true. It includes help on how to cope with a ''rood test'' and no one wants their kids to pass one of those.
Mean test A VIGNETTE which took place in a small trading company in Wan Chai recently: Two secretaries are vying for one job. One is interviewed and then told to sit outside. The other is then interviewed and hired on the spot.
Her first job: to tell the other she hasn't got the job.
Jamboree NO one makes jokes about traffic in Thailand. It is no laughing matter.
So when Mr Hiroyuki Maruko, the president of Mitsui and Co (Thailand), told businessmen gathered at the exclusive Heritage Club that the solution was to bid for the Olympics, he must have been serious.
''Thailand is in dire straits - its image has been battered, its pollution is famous, its traffic is a nightmare. It's obvious that this place needs to bid for the Olympics,'' he said.
''Thailand seems to have a problem getting government projects going. I think a Bangkok bid for the 2008 Olympics could be just the focus the country needs.'' He said 2004 would be too soon, and 2012 too far away. This left just one option.
Suggestions for Bangkok Olympic events: Men's sitting in traffic for 100m.
Women's sitting in traffic for 100m.
Sitting in traffic relay.
Running the engine . . .
Plate service MEANWHILE, cheaper solutions are being investigated.
Many are still enthusiastic about the idea that cars whose number plates end in odd numbers should be banned on some days, while those ending in even numbers should be banned on the others.
One entrepreneur has already suggested setting up a car swap shop. Those who own two cars with even number plates could swap one with someone owning two cars with odd number plates.
Say what? FUJIO Kashimura of retailers Hong Kong Seibu was trying to check up on his business trip to Guangzhou: Fujio: My name is Kashimura and I am calling from Hong Kong Seibu department store.
Agent: Oh. You are calling from Cebu of the Philippines.
Fujio: No, not Cebu. Hong Kong Seibu.
Agent: No, no, no. Cebu is not in Hong Kong. It's in the Philippines.
Fujio: I know that Cebu is in the Philippines. Hong Kong SEIBU! Agent: Oh, I see. It's not Cebu. It's Sibu in Malaysia. May I help you? Plane talk ON Wednesday, the aviation world was talking about China's plan to move into the passenger jet business and build an ''Asian Airbus'' with partners elsewhere in the region.
But Kurt Mueller of Repulse Bay Road has insight into its existing plane manufacturing which sheds new light on this plan. He picked up a copy of a Chinese magazine called Airport Journal at Shanghai Airport.
It boasted: ''Now, China Northern Airlines possesses a MD-82 fleet, the biggest in the Asia-Pacific region, 11 home-made Yun-7 passenger-cargo airliners and 60 small airplanes of Yun-5 and Mig-S''.
The bit about home-made was remarkable.
''In view of the pressures to improve the safety record of carriers in mainland China, would it not be better to leave plane manufacturing to the aircraft industry?'' Kurt asks.
Bin-fillers JUNK mail lovers should particular enjoy the problems faced by Sandy Boucher of Tai Hang Road.
Standard Chartered insisted on sending him a separate statement in a separate envelope for every currency in his multi-currency account.
And last week he got a Visa bill from rival Hongkong Bank which stretched to three pages. Each was mailed in its own envelope, each with its own wad of glossy, useless advertising.
Banks always claim that despite their agreement to fix interest rates they compete in other areas. Looks like they are fiercely competing in the wasting paper stakes too.
Sheet cheat CHARLES Tsui of Whampoa Gardens visited Shenzhen and stayed at the China Regency Hotel.
Despite being told he would not have to pay to have a third bed in the room, he was annoyed to find that he was charged - and had to pay up despite his complaints.
The name tag on the staff member who ''assisted'' them was ''WICHEAT''