The end-of-year joys and horrors are just around the corner, so before the madness sets in, I’ve decided to knuckle down and answer those emails from readers around the globe that have been piling up on the editorial desk all year.

Micky Angelo, curator of the archives in Venice’s Nautical History Museum, enquired about Marco Polo’s journey to the East via Southern Africa which, he maintains, isn’t recorded in any historical documents in his library. This, Mr Angelo, is due to poorly scribbled records in Latin short-hand by Lenny da Vinci, the ship’s navigator, surveyor and cartoonist who isn’t around anymore to ask.

But the latest news is that after his ship, the Santa Flatulata sank, Marco and his vuvuzela were rescued by Somali pirates two miles off Africa’s east coast near the port of Lawrence O’Marks. As soon as we’ve deciphered the rest of Lenny’s notes, we’ll let you know, Mr Angelo.

But back to the emails. Many folks asked about our inexpensive home-made Champagne Spritzer, ideal for any occasion, so here’s a quick step-by-step guide again. Fill a large glass/tankard 50/50 with wine and cold water. Pour in a dollop of Oros for flavour and colour. Add ice and just a pinch of ENOs. Stir vigorously and drink while still fizzing. Repeat ad nauseum. Guests love it.

Fanny White from Kansas – who wants to remain anonymous – asked where she could buy a tanning machine like President Trump’s. Well Fanny, they’re made in China, and with the current tariff wars raging, they’re pretty scarce, but some are still available on the black market.

Sadly, the President’s highly popular model Burnt Orange is out of stock, but others in the range include Merlot Glow, Brazilian Bronze, Siam Sallow and Rum’n Raison for the rugged outdoor look. All come in sweat or matte finish. Orders via the Russian Embassy or Rudy Giuliani.

Then there’s the Black Forest Lumberjack Union who asked for our help. They’ve been unable to get answers from The Hood, the den of dubious delights owned by Red Riding Hood with her creative herbal cookies. They’re looking for the slightly camp wood-cutter who pitched up late, and being a vegetarian, refused to help the wolf eat Granny. The Union bosses want a word with him. If you know his whereabouts please email us.

Dozens of readers are still confused and sceptical. Well, the answer to their frequently asked question is yes. It is true. We are visited by aliens/angels, and have been since biblical times. Welcome to the 21st century.

Penny Lane from Liverpool wrote: “Since you alerted us about how often people begin a sentence with the word ‘so’, our whole family plays a game around the TV every evening called So Spotting. The first to shout ‘spot!’ when anyone starts their answer with ‘so’, gets a point. The one with the least points by the 8pm news does the dishes.” Glad we could help, Penny but it drives me mad.

The ladies from the Somerset West Underwater Bridge Society are in a dilemma about “safety regulations for this Coronavirus thing”. Apparently eye-contact and subtle hand gestures are vital in Bridge, especially when playing in the deep end. “Social distancing is not practical,” they claim, “and the masks get tangled up with our goggles and snorkels. Will we be fined if we don’t wear masks?” Yes ladies, you will. Rather play in the shallow end.

Mr Qultzal is the owner of The Duck ’n Fiddle’s Mexican franchise called The Quack ’n Banjo. His family tree has roots going back to the Aztecs, and their ancient language, Nahuatl, was passed down to him through the generations. As a result he thought we should all know that the following words come from the Aztecs: Chocolate. Chilli. Coyote.

Well, thanks for that Mr Qultzal. From now on I’m sure our readers will always think of Coyote chasing Road-runner when munching chillies.

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