THE MARITIME authorities in England are perplexed by the case of a man who drove a motor cruiser round and round the Isle of Sheppey, off the Kent coast, eventually running out of petrol and running aground off the Elmley marshes.
Rescuers from the Sheerness lifeboat and the Thames Coastguard said he had with him a road map and no navigational charts or equipment.
He told them he had been heading for Southampton, hugging what he thought was the coastline of England, and had been unaware that he was circling an offshore island. He had set out from the River Medway.
I've a theory that this was a straggler from the NSRI Barrel Race held in Durban harbour a couple of weeks ago. He was looking for Westville, hence the road map.
As I mentioned in this column, alcohol plays a prominent role in the barrel race. However, it's gratifying that a supporter of our National Sea Rescue Institute should make contact with its counterparts overseas, the Sheerness lifeboat and the Thames Coastguard.
Maybe we should invite them next year for a cruise round Salisbury Island.
IT'S AN ODD story this about London's guerilla gardener. Art student Steve Wheen cycles about the British capital, looking for potholes. When he spots one he stops and plants in it spring blooms cyclamen, narcissus and polyanthus.
It's his way of beautifying the city. Also of drawing the attention of motorists and cyclists to the potholes so they can avoid them.
He concedes there is a high attrition rate with his plantings. One lasted a few weeks but most last only a couple of hours. Yet he perseveres.
Bring him to Durban and the city would look like the Namaqualand wild flower phenomenon - and there the blooms stretch to the far horizon.
THE TELEVISED debates of Britain's party leaders in the current general election campaign are having a galvanising effect on bookshop sales, we are told. People are walking in and buying copies of the party manifestoes at an unprecedented rate.
In fact, one London publisher reports, the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pushed JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter book into fourth place.
I find this strangely dispiriting. As one who considers Anthony Burgess to be our finest novelist since Evelyn Waugh, I would rather play darts than read the Tory manifesto, the Labour manifesto, the Liberal Democrat manifesto or Harry Potter.
Perhaps I am not attuned to the times
The struggle continues
THE BATTLE of the sexes rages on:
* "Do you always carry your TV remote?" the shop assistant asks as he notices it in the customer's handbag as she rummages for her purse.
"No, but my husband wouldn't come shopping and I figured this is the harshest thing I can do to him legally."
· A couple drive down a country road in silence after a row. They pass a farmyard full of mules, goats and pigs.
He: Relatives of yours?"
She: "Yep. In-laws."
* He: "This article says a man uses only 15 000 words a day and a woman uses 30 000."
She: "That's because we have to repeat everything we say."
· A couple are giving each other the silent treatment. At bed time he puts a note on her pillow: "Please wake me at 5 am. I've got an early flight."
He wakes at 9 am. A note on his pillow reads: "It's 5 am. Wake up!"
(Men are not equal to this kind of contest).
AS A SURVIVAL test a German, an Australian and a Chinese are to be abandoned on a desert island for a year. The German is put in charge of building the group's shelter, the Australian is in charge of power requirements and the Chinese man is responsible for supplies.
They are landed on the island and their equipment is checked. The German has brought tools, nails and screws and the Australian has a wind turbine and a solar generator. But the Chinese fellow just disappears. They search for him all day with no success. As night approaches they head back to the boat.
As they approach the beach the Chinese leaps from behind a tree.
He shouts: "Supplies!"
You will find that the State is the kind of organisation which, though it does big things badly, does small things badly, too.