Before we forget: amnesia. How do you know you've got it? Several people wrote to tell us they used to know the answer but had forgotten it. Several others wrote to ask us what the question was.

Michael Cooney says you know you have amnesia when you forget to remember not to watch party political broadcasts. Paul McHugh advises: 'Are you suffering from amnesia? Try this simple test. At eight o'clock in the morning, place 12 matches in the form of a triangle around an empty bottle.

Then . . . er, sorry, I seem to have forgotten the next bit.'

Janet Fanning links amnesia to the problem of what becomes of the hole in a doughnut: 'It travels through the digestive system and is absorbed in the normal manner to emerge at a later date as the complete blank that one suffers when an acquaintance greets you effusively and you can't remember who they are.' She doesn't get round to answering the amnesia question, but we presume the vital symptom is an empty doughnut box. Mrs Fanning wins Clive Anderson's Patent Nonsense.

Which brings us neatly to lobsters. We asked for the story behind the headline: 'Stephen King Impersonator Steals 5,000 Lobsters'.

Nicholas Gough provides the outline of a plot that seems like a cross between Jesus of Nazareth and The Little Mermaid. The parable of the feeding of the 5,000 lobsters, starting with five molluscs and two small fishes, and ending with the film crew fed to the lobsters, sounds perfect for Stephen King.

James McLaren sees the whole story as a sinister portent of a planned coup d'etat by the Gerard de Nerval Appreciation Society: 'They will march through the city with their lobsters on leads (as did their idol in 1850s Paris), and at a pre-arranged signal they will cry havoc and let slip the lobsters of war.' Cleverly, the theft of the 5,000 lobsters was accomplished in a Stephen King disguise, so all would assume he was researching a new horror story called Claws.

David Greenwood spins a plausible tale of a bookshop proprietor employing an actor to impersonate famous authors at book-signings, then running off with a '5,000 lobsters and how to cook 'em' book to settle a quibble over payment.

What to do with the lobsters? Paul McHugh says: 'We all know that whales have excellent singing voices. With suitable training, an excellent lobster choir could be assembled to perform Prawn Williams's Sea Symphony at the Royal Halibut Hall.'

Lynn Corkett points out that the lobsters are an ideal gift with which to impress your true love on the 5,000th day of Christmas. Mark Walmsley says: 'If marooned on a desert island, one could attract passing aircraft by using 5,000 lobsters to spell out 'SOS - HELP' in large letters on the beach. One would, of course, have to immobilise them in some way, to stop them wandering around and spelling out, for example, 'I'M OK, THANKS'.'

Mr Walmsley also asks us to reprint last week's article on procrastination, as he didn't get round to reading it before he threw the paper away. In the duest of courses, Mark. When we have time.

Back to the lobsters: 'Teach them the quadrille,' advises Rafaela Mottram, 'and turn some art gallery into a vast performance tank, start a heated debate on whether the lobsters are Art or Performance Art, and win the Turner Prize.' Mollie Caird's lobsters engage in cross-Channel swimming relays, with the winners entertaining the crowds at Waterloo as they wait for the delayed Eurostar train.

Bernard Jaffa's lobsters earn their living as 'rent-a-crowd for Blushers Anonymous', while Pat Gould hires hers as 'Rent-a-congregation' for apprentice preachers.

Copies of the ITN Book of Firsts by Melvin Harris (published by Michael O'Mara Books at pounds 14.99) go to James McLaren (for remembering Nerval), Rafaela Mottram, Lynn Corkett, Paul McHugh, Mark Walmsley and Pat Gould (for forgetting to tell us her address).

This week, the nice people from Chambers have offered us three triple-packs from their Compact Reference series: Great Inventions Through History, Great Modern Inventions and Great Scientific Discoveries as prizes.

All you need to do to learn about everything from palaeoanthropology to travellers cheques is to come up with some original idea for using bagpipes.

All suggestions to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB, to arrive by the morning of 3 November.

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