I don't know much about helicopters, but I do know about their relation to the ablative case.

My university Latin tutor was teaching a class of first years about the ablative case one beautiful spring morning when he was interrupted by the sight and sound of a helicopter flying by, quite close to his office window.

Erm, that's it, that's the story.

Quite dry, my Latin tutor's humour.

It probably should have had "Desiccant - Do Not Eat" written on it.

He went on to explain to us the difficulties of translating "Harrier Jump Jet" into the language of Cicero and Virgil.

Again nary a titter.

Yes, you could keep trainers in storage for millennia with my Latin tutor's wit. They're supposed to be difficult to control - helicopters you fool, not Latin tutorials (although, I don't know, sometimes when a wee Mary lost her Tippex things could get nasty - the pain of being caught by a razor-sharp skirt-pleat in mid flounce is not to be scoffed at).

Yes, it's a coordination thing (stick with me).

Flying a helicopter (ah! there we are!) is supposed to by like trying to rub your head and pat your belly at the same time.

So if, like me you have trouble walking and thinking at the same time, it's totally impossible. And helicopters have stopped my girlfriend from leaving me (so far).

Whenever I was flying abroad, I used to get uptight about missing my plane (normally starting to fret about twelve hours before it left - a real damper on weekend breaks) and would only really be calmed down when struck heavily with a souvenir Eiffel Tower/commemorative beer glass/ceramic clog.

But now I just think this thought, "It isn't the last helicopter out of Vietnam!" and then I relax.

And then I remember that I've read a book by a bloke who missed the last helicopter out of Vietnam and still made it back to tell the tale, and relax further.

But then I remember that he was an exception and that most of the people left behind ended up in infamous "re-education" camps.

And at this point I would probably start to get worried again, except by now I've forgotten what it is that I was supposed to be worrying about.

And since there really isn't any danger of me ending up in a Viet-Cong re-education camp, I finally calm down - course by this time I really have missed my plane. Of course they're an important part of musical theatre (helicopters, not re-education camps - are you still awake?), at least the addition of a full-sized helicopter to the staging of Miss Saigon is thought to have added greatly to the spectacle and put many more

bewildered tourist bums on seats.

West-End theatre producers not being noted for their desire to depart from a winning formula, we should probably look forward to "Deltic the Musical" and "Big Fuck-Off Truck - the dance of the M62." My English teacher used to talk about helicopters as an example of the kind of ridiculous subject that we might be asked to write about in our old-fashioned English language exams.

"Write for two hours about helicopters," he used to fume.

"What kind of question is that?

When are you ever going to need to do that in real life?"