The Dragonair flight was taxiing on the runway at Kai Tak airport shortly before leaving Hong Kong. Captain Lucas Klarenbeek and his staff were going through final take-off procedures. Suddenly, the chief pursuer appeared at the door. He apologetically handed in a note written by a passenger. 'The gentleman insists that you contact ground staff by radio immediately,' he said. Since this was a highly unusual request, Captain Klarenbeek assumed that it must concern a matter of vital importance or grave and mortal danger. He stopped the plane. This is what the note, written by a businessman, said (notice the absence of any civil preamble): 'Find out in one of the local newspapers the stock price of [name of company] and who is the largest buyer. 'Tell my Beijing office that I will be delayed.' A Hong Kong businessman had decided that the pilot should do some secretarial duties for him instead of wasting his time fiddling about with cockpit controls, doing safety checks, flying the plane, etc. Captain Klarenbeek said it was one of the more crass moments he could recall in his 26-year flying career. 'Some people think that when they buy an airline ticket they have bought the whole airline,' he said. I would have waited till we got to 4,000 metres and then said on the intercom: 'This is the captain speaking. I have been asked to do some secretarial duties for the gentleman in seat 14A. Would he kindly inform the flight attendants whether he would like me to sit on his lap as well?' Three cheers for the Bank of China's compensation plan for customers who are kept waiting. At Beijing branches, you can now get your deposit or withdrawal transactions completed in two minutes, or you can charge the bank one yuan (just under HK$1) penalty for every additional minute. The timing doesn't including queuing time, but it's still an improvement. Banks in China can take hours to do a simple transaction. Tellers are allowed six minutes for foreign currency deals, and three minutes for dealing in state treasury bonds. The bank has not said how long it will allow for bank robberies, but I think four to five minutes would be fair. Richard Johnson, watching his Bloomberg financial screen, noticed two reports on softball. In one game, Dot Richardson hit a ball just inside the foul line, or so the umpire said. The United Press International report said: 'The Chinese protested that the ball was foul, but television replays showed that the home run barely made it inside the foul pole.' The Xinhua report said: 'The United States stole the gold medal from the women's softball tournament at the Centennial Olympic Games. After two scoreless innings, a woman umpire with helmet stole the limelight by ruling fair a clear outside hit by American Dot Richardson.' The Financial Times' Olympic report said: 'Britain's team and supporters have heard their anthem just once in the past 12 days.' Come on, you chaps. You've still got a bit of an empire, you know. Three hundred and twenty-seven days to go, and they've already given us up for dead. Rule Britannia. Jet Direct System Services, a computer firm, sent out a piece of junk fax to businesses in Hong Kong yesterday, conveniently listing their products and prices. Each fax bore the words: 'We are sorry for any convenience caused by this fax.' Hong Kong Bank recently revamped its credit card points collecting system to give members one point for every dollar spent. Customer Beryl Cook really looked forward to the latest 'Lifestyle Plus Bonus Points' booklet. It arrived yesterday. 'Now we only need to spend $2,675,000 to get the points for a free television and $1,095,250 to get a free compact hi-fi system,' she enthused. 'Maybe we could get started by getting a digital diary to plan our points-collecting by spending only $150,000.' Dozens of sniggering people - mostly financial types - sent me the recent ad in which Siemens of Hong Kong asks for an 'erection supervisor'. Honestly. Dealing with the Lai See community is sometimes like being a teacher at a school for puerile adolescents, if 'puerile' is not redundant in that sentence. Let's all grow up a bit, shall we? Well - after the next item, anyway. John Merrit, the Cathay Pacific doctor, recalls being at an embryology class when the professor noticed that the samples were not ready. He yelled to the technician in the back room: 'Why are we waiting for the semen slides?' A shakey voice in the distance cried: 'Just coming, professor.' Dr Merritt said: 'We waited, with new respect for the technician's obvious devotion to duty, but were eventually disappointed to find the slides had been prepared some years before.'