Tuesday 20 January 1998
Len Clarke, however, has a more insidious interpretation. He agrees that the "Flot" part comes from Aeroflot, but warns us that the "sam" is a surface-to-air missile. Jack and Renee Dolan point out that you can pick up flotsam and jetsam cheaply at trawler stern sales.
"Do you want some flotsam?" Magy Higgs enquires. "I've already gotsam." An if we're clean out of jetsam, she offers to run out and getsam. "In a changing world," says Nigel Plevin, "flotsam and jetsam is one thing [two things, surely?] we can be shore about". He adds: "If life is a beach, then flotsam and jetsam is the fluff in Sian Cole's belly-button."
Ms Cole herself plans to open a Bare Brighton beach boutique to sell Flotsam & Jetsam, though that idea could interfere with Georgina Redhead's idyllic dream of being cast ashore on a Caribbean island with only some flotsam, jetsam and the bouncy Ms Cole for company.
Several readers offered accounts of the old comedy duo/ singing act Flotsam & Jetsam. RJ Pickles says that they are alive and well in a retirement home, but change their names to Flotspm & Jetspm after midday. The wetter kind of f&j he thinks should be piled up on the Pacific coast of the USA as a barrier against El Nino.
"Use sturdier bits of f&j to break up heavy New Year's resolutions into manageable proportions," Judith Holmes advises. More ecologically, she also recommends feeding it to "needy termites and woodlice, whose increased numbers will provide food for all sorts of threatened wildlife".
Karen McMillan says: "Flotsam and jetsam are obviously long-lost cousins of Mopsy, Topsy, Flopsy and Peter Rabbit." She suggests "that you shoot them before their life story is published". Maria Treadwell points out that "Flotsam and Jetsam" is an anagram of "Maria's fat and jolts".
MJ Gifford thinks that "Flotsam and Jetsam" would make a good slogan for a car wash. Duncan Bull suggests that "gangs of dedicated volunteers should traipse our shores gathering flotsam and jetsam which can then be dumped in the sea". He sees this as a self-perpetuating job-creation scheme for "thousands of otherwise bothersome eco-warriors".
Norman Foster, who adds f&j to his morning cereal ("it helps keep me afloat during the day", recommends the use of jetsam to mark the depths in municipal swimming pools. He also tells us that "one teaspoon of flotsam will prevent milk boiling over".
"Make a flotilla out of the flotsam and jettison the jetsam," advises Bruce Birchall. His other ideas include a toothpick for sharks, then recycled as material to make coffins for people picked out of sharks' teeth. He also mentions croquet mallets for water croquet. Or to make a piano in Casablanca and play "Play it again, Flotsam". Peter Thomas thinks you could use them to make an ocean-going junk. ML Greenall advises driving it up the Thames to make a vast, solid dome in Greenwich, "then hollow it out when someone has an idea what to put inside".
Prizes to Susan Tomes, Bruce Birchall and Norman Foster. Next week, how to justify a huge invoice for drawing a line under a letter M. Meanwhile, we seek things to do with the Teletubbies. Ideas welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for those we like best.
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