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LATE-ARRIVING "How to break off boring phone calls" suggestions from abroad: I am due in court on a murder charge. The floor is up to my neck now. I am just off to do a bank job (Maguy Higgs, France). I am only the burglar (Martin Christopher, Canada). I have to interview a flautist about the rat infestation; I have got the gas-mask inspection in five minutes' time (Pete Lee, Switzerland). Go away! I am trying to commit suicide (John West, Jersey).

Colourful imprecations and oaths: Ainsley Harriott: Stab me vittles! (Heather Gregg); Pulverise my peppercorns! Keats: Nobble me nightingales! Patrick Moore: Galloping galaxies! (Joan Vinnicombe). R2D2 (of Star Wars): Quiver my quarks! (Len Clarke). Mr Punch: Wallop my sausages! (Magy Higgs). The Agriculture Minister: Stun my Friesians! (Susan Tomes).

Charles Darwin: Well, I'll be a monkey's nephew! Jennifer Saunders: Pardon my French! (Sue Johnson). Pete Sampras: The deuce! (Colin Archer). Tony Blair: Gordon Brown! (Alan Russell). (Roald Dahl's) Fantastic Mr Fox: Tony Blair! (R.E. Hunt). Ferdinand and Isabella: Christopher Columbus! (Mike Gifford). Sir Walter Raleigh: Smoking carcinogens! (Virginia Fountain). Marie Curie: Suppurating ulcers! Richard III: Suffocating princes! Captain Oates: Blistering blizzards! (Clair Hubble).

Cinderella: Pumps and pumpkins! Medusa and the Gorgons: Putrefying petrefaction! Delia Smith: Spattering spatulas! (Naomi Jones). Superman: Crystallising kryptonite! Portia: Merciful heavens! (M. Tyler). Mao Tse-tung: Origami orang-utans! Ghostbusters: Paranormal paratroopers! H.G. Wells: Martian marsupials! (Bruce Birchall). TV programmers: Stupendous stupidity! Mel B and Mel C: Mellifluous melodies! (Bill Mason).

Michael Flatley: May the mother of your favourite camel stamp on your feet! (C. Martin); May cannibals view you with relish! May your way be the desert, great thirst afflict you and your gourd desert you! (Peter Thomas). Pythagoras: May the hypotenuse of your right-angled triangles be an irrational number! (Thea Wren). Diophantus: May your equations be insoluble! Heisenberg: May your observations be afflicted with uncertainty! (Martha Maddox).

Magy Higgs, Pete Lee, C. Martin and Peter Thomas win copies of Chambers Dictionary of Quotations (one unclaimed prize recycled).

We now seek reasons why the species Homo sapiens mysteriously died out on planet Earth in the middle of the 21st century. Ideas to Creativity, Features, The Independent, I Canada Square, London E14 5DL, by 28 July. Results and three Chambers prizes on 3 August. Next week: new creation myths for a superstitious age.

The reappearance of Loki's e-mail address in the column will indicate his return. He is still in hospital, so contributors should please write to the newspaper in the meantime.