Games: Creativity

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What shall we do with the drunken sailor? AJ Brewer tells us that: "the question was posed in the Original Medieval Creativity series in the Elizabethan Independent and the answers were incorporated by a Mr Anon in a special sea shanty". He says the suggested treatments have stood the test of time and looking for further ideas would be wasted effort. Other readers, however, disagree.

What to do with the drunken sailor?

(Who in the world is he?)

Put him in charge

Of a leaky barge

And let him loose at sea (Maguy Higgs suggests).

Len Clarke informs us that French inn-keepers just give drunken sailors a shove in the direction of the harbour at closing time, with a Gallic cry of: " l'eau! C'est l'heure."

"Send him to the Battered Seadogs Home," says Frank Middlemass. "Remind him," Bruce Birchall advises, "that the idea is to have a girl in every port, not to have a port with every girl." RJ Pickles suggests keeping him away from schooners or getting him lodgings in a shanty town.

Meanwhile, Maguy Higgs's drunken sailor has burst into song and has the fish helpless with laughter at his hilarious songs:

"A kipper who has died of mirth

Tastes better than all else on earth,

And halibut who blubber so

Gaily into the net will go.

If Sailor-boy sings loud and free

and hits the occasional HIGH SEA!

Mike Gifford suggests laying him out between decks in the hold "so that the rest of the crew can smoke low tar cigarettes in peace". Alternatively, he says, you could hang him on the Equator (or other convenient line) where he can dry out.

Fiona and John Earle blame the drunken for making the nautical mile a little longer that the statute mile. They also supply us with a useful list of other nautical measurements: 2 pickled onions = 1 soused herring 4 soused herrings = 1 pissed newt 4 pissed newts = 1 yard of ale 4 yards of ale + 1 hair of the dog = 1 drunken sailor.

They also point out the usefulness of a drunken sailor as a navigational aid: "Just before falling, the sailor rotates cockwise in the northern hemisphere".

Jack and Renee Dolan want to make things easier for him by putting his ship in a bottle, then helping him to know when he's had enough by painting a Plimsoll line on his throat. (We apologise, incidentally, to the Dolans for suggesting a week or two ago that Renee had a grave accent. Jack informs us that her accent is really quite cheerful.

Steve Snow has sent us a collection of anagrams of "drunken sailor" to serve as suggestions for things to do with him. The least convoluted of these is to "offer him Communism or the pub: Lenin or Turk's Head". Nicholas E Gough is also in an anagrammatic mood, pointing out that "sailor" turns to "is oral". he recommends, therefore, that we give him to Sian Cole. Ms Cole herself has a simple two-word answer. The second is "him" and the first is procreative.

Chambers Dictionary prizes to Maguy Higgs, Frank Middlemass, and the Earles.

Next week, we shall be discussing what banks get up to on a bank holiday. In the meantime, you might like to think of uses for an ethical foreign policy (slightly shop-soiled). Ideas will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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