Creativity

IT SEEMS that BA wasted an awful lot of money on their dirty tricks department; it turns out that Richard Branson is perfectly capable of doing the job at his own expense. So thoroughly has Woolly Jumper maxed out the PR ops that he has become a popular source of modern euphemism. Among numerous references to ballooning and hot air, John O'Byrne suggests that he become representative of the world's "supremely self-confident" (a euphemism in itself, surely, John?) beings, as in "See that bloke in the corner, he's a proper Branson", while Chris Lee favours "in search of the bearded tit" as the correct phrase for checking out Virgin rail timetables.

Euphemisms for the new millennium seem, predictably enough, to revolve around politics, footie and showbiz. Chris Lee's "Flatulence" for "an excessive display of dancing, especially Irish" was especially popular in this office. He also suggests that "having your bottom Feltz" should describe drastic liposuction, which ties in nicely with Duncan Bull's simple but comely "Vanessa" for a wide-screen TV. The normal machine is, naturally, a Vorderman.

Len Clarke delves the murky world of media with "Cigar: something 6in long which covers 30 million acres of newsprint". A Monica, according to Michael Gifford, is a naive young woman who swallows anything her boss puts forward, and a Clinton 3-star an apology that becomes increasingly insincere as your situation becomes more precarious. An Archer, according to Paul Turner, is the constant repetition of a single plot (as relevant to politics as to literature), Clarksonitis, a virulent affliction often detected in small boys, and a Heath, one who mistakes old age for wisdom (cf, on the American speaking circuit, Thatcher). Norman Foster, meanwhile, suggests Dome (to sink large amounts of money into useless projects), Mandy (to interfere, control) and Mandate (the time when that interference started, presumably some time in May last year).

Most references to Paul Gascoigne have been eliminated, as they are hardly modern. The exception is Bruce Birchall's wonderful "Sheryl in Peril": a woman who stays with a man who uses her as a punchbag. He wins a dictionary for that, and for "Massage Parlour", a government statistics department dealing with the unemployment figures, as do Chris Lee and Michael Gifford.

This week: The Lottery Show had been thought to have plumbed unfathomable depths, but Saturdays have attained a new low with the launch of Cilla Black's new game show, The Moment of Truth, in which families compete for white goods by mastering skills such as handbell-ringing and building houses of cards. Formats, please, for more prime-time gameshows, including some if not all of theme, rules (if any), props and sets (remember: maximum advertising appeal with minimum budget spend is essential), necessary contestant traits and suggestions for a host to front the whole shebang.

Write to Creativity, The Independent, Features, 18th Floor, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. The top two, or three, depending on whether anyone has won one for suggesting the week's theme, will win a copy of the Chambers Dictionary. Results two weeks from today.

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