Miles Kington: The downward spiral of a downward spiral

I have never worked out how it was possible to hijack an aeroplane with a corkscrew
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Why? Because the wine world is switching over to screw tops, of course. And what will happen to corkscrew manufacturers when there are no more corks to extract?

That is why they are having crisis talks at Hernia House, HQ of the corkscrew world, under the chairmanship of Sir Basil Crudgeon, CEO of the mighty corkscrew firm, Megapull. Let us discreetly join them ...

Crudgeon: Ladies and gentlemen, it does seem ironic that we should face ruin just after our golden years, but we must face facts. If we do not think of new uses for corkscrews, we are sunk. Even in air travel, we are threatened. If a passenger is found carrying a corkscrew these days, it is taken away from him. I have never worked out how it would be possible to hijack an aeroplane with a corkscrew ...

Voice: That's easy! You rush into the cockpit with a bottle of Piat d'Or and a naked corkscrew, and say, "If you do not do exactly what I tell you to do, I will make you drink this!" Laughter.

Crudgeon: Thank you. Nevertheless, ordinary people are having corkscrews taken away from them. Can this be good?

Voice: Yes! They'll have to buy another one! Laughter.

Crudgeon: Thank you again, sir. I call now upon Humphrey Herbert, chairman of the study group set up specially to investigate new ways of using the corkscrew. Humphrey?

Herbert: Thank you, chairman. Now, it was our brief to look at the function of the corkscrew and see if it could be adapted to any other tasks in daily life, within the parameters of legality and social usefulness ...

Voice: Get on with it! You're not on the Today programme now!

Herbert: Point taken. Well, almost immediately we discovered one admirable use for the corkscrew. You know how, when you have got a dinner party, you get your candlesticks out to put fresh candles in, and you find that the candle stubs are still sitting in the sticks from the last party? And they are burnt right down? And they are hell to get out? So you poke ineffectually at them with a knife, or a fork, or a screwdriver ...? No longer! With a corkscrew, the job is done straight away! Just twist the spiral in, give a sharp pull, and hey presto!

Crudgeon: Brilliant! Candle extractor! I like it! Right. What else?

Herbert: Well ... that's it, really. We couldn't think of any other uses for a corkscrew.

Crudgeon: You couldn't think of any other uses for a corkscrew???

Herbert: No. Well ...

Crudgeon: Yes?

Herbert: Well, one of the committee said she had once, in desperation, when her car had a puncture, late at night, got her hub cap off with a corkscrew.

Crudgeon: Yes?

Herbert: That's it. We did the experiments. We tried getting hub caps off with corkscrews, and it did work. But not often. Hardly ever, actually. Especially with the modern ones. The modern corkscrews built like hydraulic hammers.

Crudgeon: What is a hydraulic hammer?

Herbert: I don't know. It's a term I picked up somewhere. There were so many experts popping in and out...

Crudgeon: And none of them could think of another use for corkcrews?

Herbert: No.

Crudgeon: Well, thank you Humphrey, and now, before I commit ritual hara kiri, I will throw it open to the house. Does anyone here have any brilliant ideas for using corkscrews?

Voice: Could you commit hara kiri with a corkscrew?

Crudgeon: Anyone else? A long silence. Thank you.

Can any readers think of a brilliant new use for corkscrews? If so, write to Sir Basil Crudgeon at Hernia House as soon as possible, please.

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