Creativity

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The Independent Culture
BIRTH CERTIFICATES contain a bare minimum of information - unsurprising, given that we come into this world in a bare and minimal state. But what else might they convey, if readers could redesign the form?

Whether genetically modified? And if so, how? James A. Kelly suggests, along with a checklist of reasons for conception: power cut? to get a council house? contraceptive didn't work? Maria O. Treadwell would like a photograph, Nicholas E. Gough would just love a family tree, and R.J. Pickles thinks a horoscope would be simply divine. Claire Hubble, on the other hand, would like a palmistry reading, a record of all birthmarks and a volume level, in decibels, of the first cry, yell or scream.

Len Clarke wants to see one's race included: 100 metres? slalom? donkey derby? Mandy Alsop wants a statement of mother's nicotine and drugs intake during pregnancy, John Richardson wants to know about parental HIV, and Mary Donald wants a record of HMV: what soothing or stimulating music was heard while in the womb.

T.M. O'Grady wants the name and address of any nurse who smacked one's bottom (for retaliation in later life). Carole Hawkins would like to see the full names and species of her six previous lives. Eric Dunkley dwells on inherited characteristics to watch out for: acne, boils, hairy nostrils, or going totally bald at 30.

Kim Noble foresees genetically improved babies being allocated to quality- assured parents and details of biological parents suppressed, with birth certificates being replaced by two-year guarantees. Peter Thomas wants details of cloning, and where spare parts are located. John O'Byrne wants a link to the baby's website, whence a DVD video of the birth can be downloaded.

Eric Bridgstock records the price of a pint of milk and the number one record in the charts. Emma Burgess wants to know which illegitimate royal you are descended from, and John Hall's form has a box for number in line to the throne. A name of the opposite sex could be supplied in case the child turns out transsexual, says Sue/Hugh Johnson. Brucie/Lucy Birchall suggests a gender box for hermaphrodites and indeterminables.

Eric Dunkley, Sue Johnson and John O'Byrne win a Chambers Dictionary of Quotations. Astronomers at the Open University have detected the gravitational influence on comets of a 10th planet of our Solar System, orbiting far beyond Pluto. We wonder who or what may perhaps live there, and what else we may yet discover of this unknown world.

Suggestions: Loki.Valhalla @btinternet.com or Creativity, Features, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL by Wednesday 10 November. Results and three more prizes of Chambers Dictionary of Quotations on 16 November. All second-time winners since 15 June should now have their Chambers catalogue and all first-time winners should shortly receive their prizes. Tell me if not. Next week: new uses for old saucepan lids.

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