William Hartston
Monday 01 June 1998 23:02

Our request for things to do with a Panama hat, a tin of sardines and a packet of Polos has been met with some suspicion by AJ Brewer. "At first sight," he writes, "the Panama hat seems to be the odd one out. The sardines are wholesome, the Polos are holey - could it be that the Panama hat is in mint condition and therefore qualified to join the others to form this trinity?" On deeper reflection, however, he has decided that the polos are in fact Magic Circles to be used to pull rabbits out of the hat. The rabbits could then be bred, which, with the addition of an "a" from Panama (which has more than its fair share of them) would make bread to eat with the sardines.

RJ Pickles says: "Hang the Polos like corks from brim of the Panama hat to disguise smell as you open the sardines." Len Clarke says: "It's a well-known fact that in Kakadu National Park (turn left at Ayers Rock) polos strung from the brim of a Panama hat are the very latest in Oz headgear. What other reason could there be for the holes?"

RC Waters points out that Polo and sardines are both games, but he has mislaid his copy of the Panama Hat rules. "Lie back and think of Panama," says Sian Cole.

Marilyn Johnson rhymes: I would have thought Ms Sian Cole Inspired this little list. A squeeze based on a sardine tin Is never to be missed (and verses two and three allude to the holes in the mints, a packet of three, and thoughts about canals).

Norman Foster says: "One could use the sardine tin fitted with the Polos as wheels, the Panama hat as a sail, and the olive oil from the tin as a lubricant, to make a sand yacht, with the sardines as sustenance throughout the journey."

Mike Gifford wants to adopt them as international signs for Sardinia, Panama and Poland. He also thoughtfully provides us with the rules for playing Pansardonic Polo: "The first player has to open a tin of sardines with a key which is liable to break or jam during the operation. The enclosed fish have to be taken out separately without breaking them, then lobbed skilfully into a Panama hat whose position is determined by the opponent rolling a packet of Polos as far away as possible."

Nigel Plevin says: "A mint condition Panama hat bedecked with dead sardines could become the internationally recognised logo for: 'effluent Panamanian spoken here'."

Ann Phillips wants to take them all mackerel-fishing, using the sardines as bait, the hat as head-protector, emergency sanitation and reel, and the polos as life-savers or tit-bits for sea-horses. Stephen Kirin has a simple solution: Sardinia versus Panama in a game of Polo.

"Fill the hat with water," Bruce Birchall advises, "and get the sardines to play water polo with the mints." He prefers, however, repackaging the mints in packs of five and selling them to gullible tourists as souvenirs of the Olympics.

"Remove the sardines from the tin," Peter Thomas suggests, "slip a Polo over each one as a tutu, put on the ground and make them dance to the hat band; then check the hat for change."

"It is harder to look good in a Panama hat than to put a tin of sardines through the hole in a Polo," Robbie Jones reminds us.

Nicholas E Gough writes: "The owl and the pussy-cat went to sea, in a beautiful pea green boat. They took some polos and plenty of sardines, wrapped up in a Panama hat."

John and Renee Dolan suggest: "Put the Polo mints on top of the sardine tin to let the sardines out through the hole. They can then put on the Panama hat as a disguise and go for a night on the town."

Chambers Dictionary prizes to: Robbie Jones, Nicholas E Gough and Norman Foster. Next week, ethical things to do with landmines. Meanwhile we seek ideas for things to do with an ex-Spice girl. Ideas should be sent to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.

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