“Excuse me, I’d like half a kilo of bananitos please,” says Colin Cornaby as clearly as he can.

Boonsri Chailangka screws up her cheeks and furrows her brow. She turns to the other man and flicks her head, indicating that he should speak.

Derek Brooks, 48, who is definitely not a sex-pat, clears his throat. “Me want buy half kilo banana small-small.”

Chailangka closes her eyes and nods, reaching beneath the stall for a plastic bag.

“Try not to use too much grammar,” Brooks tells his young friend. “It doesn’t go across well.”

Cornaby arrived in Pattaya two days ago and has not yet mastered the art of engaging in conversation with the locals. He had initially requested some lessons in Thai but Brooks generously offered to take the lad under his wing and teach him the more commonly used lingua franca.

Brooks smiles benevolently as the young proselyte correctly conjugates the verb “to be” as he buys a can of Sprite.

“I want buy soda, I thirsty,” the young man says, looking to the Brooks for encouragement.

As they pass a young woman in a miniskirt smoking a cigarette, Brooks nervously laughs off her offers of services.

“No thanks, Crystal. I no want sucky-sucky. I show new friend around town.” He pats the younger man on the arm. “Just a local joke,” he says.

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