CAPTAIN MOONLIGHT : Flatworms . . . flying faxes . . . and funny Yorksh iremen

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SO. Followers of the Captain will know that there was only one story last week: the creeping, slithering, irresistible progress down the country of Artioposthia triangulata, the fearsome New Zealand flatworm, six inches of raw, slimy killer. No n amby-pamby half-measures for this guy. He/she wriggles up to our friendly, native earthworms under cover of darkness, and tips a sticky enzyme over them. This first drugs the trusting, naive locals, then turns them into a sticky soup. Next he/she sucks t hem right up, there and then. Just what you would expect from the country that gave us the All Blacks.

They came over here as eggs on antipodean plants. Having established strongholds in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man, they are now threatening the Lake District. No native worm is safe. Their vital work in aerating the earth will be lost: the flatworm does no digging, but merely loiters with evil intent. Soon the gardens of Britain will be arid wastes. Something must be done. The official advice is to cover them with salt, or stamp on them, hard.

But first catch your flatworm. Losing no time, the Captain has spoken to the country's worm charmers. You may not know that worm charming in Britain is riven by schism. In Blackawton, Devon, they hold the International Festival of Worm Charming. In Will a ston, Cheshire, it is the World Worm Charming Championship. The main doctrinal difference is that the Devonians use liquid - water, beer, or tea - and rap on the ground in simulation of rain to bring the worms to the surface, while the Cestrians merelyw iggle a four-pronged pitchfork. Both sing, the Devonians favouring the ditty "Yee Yee Tee Tee Little Worm", the Cestrians "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head''.

Both faiths have plenty of ideas for charming a flatworm (thanks, D Kelland, Devon, and M Forster, Cheshire). Distilling their wisdom, I can tell you that the favoured plan is to place a peeled kiwi fruit halfway down the garden while playing the theme from The Piano through loudspeakers. If this fails, it may be time to send for Tom Shufflebotham, the legendarily reclusive world champion, who went to ground after charming 511 worms from a three-yard plot at Willaston in 1980. Shufflebotham, you're needed.