Creativity: A bonfire of the vanities

THE WORKS of Jeffrey Archer have inspired our readers to rare creative heights, writes William Hartston. Len Clarke was one of several who suggested that you could 'cut all the words out and reassemble them to make some interesting novels'. He also proposes dipping the books in bleach, perforating the page edges and hanging them in an appropriate place, which - by an odd coincidence - is exactly (according to D M Guest) what a certain well-known Labour MP has done with them.

Back with Len Clarke, we have another ecological idea. Find a tree with a suitably vicious dryad and say: 'Look what this bloke's done with all your sisters]'

'In an office where I once worked,' Mark Walmsley reminisces, 'a copy of First Among Equals was used to prop open the canteen window in hot weather. Nobody seemed to mind.' He also proposes encasing a collection in perspex 'as a monument to the erosion of intellectual standards and the stultification of social aspirations of the Thatcher era.' This may be more or less what Clair Paul has in mind when she suggests: 'Put Jeffrey Archer's collected works in a time-capsule and bury it.'

Fiona and John Earle point out that the individual letters in the books could be put at the bottom lines of opticians' charts 'which nobody can read anyway.'

Steph and Paul calculate that you would need 10 cubic metres in the skip for their primary suggestion, but if that is too straightforward, they have a range of ideas: fuel (although this may encourage the imposition of VAT on books); donation to playgroups ('where the little Waynes and Emmas could happily destroy them without incurring adult rage'); upstairs-window ammunition (for bombing Conservative canvassers).

Paul ('no Steph yet') Clark proposes reading them aloud to torment Yorkshire terriers, or stacked in the bath as staircases for spiders. Bedding for Yorkshire terriers, suggests James McLaren. Bedding for my horse, says Karyn Vitali.

Geoffrey (the good old English spelling, he says) Langley has recently returned from escorting his great aunt on a tour of the tramway systems of eastern Europe, and tells us she is very cross because route 58 in Vienna has been cut back to the Westbahnhof. On the subject of Jeffrey Archer's works, he suggests using them as school texts in France, 'to allay their fears about English as the literary language of choice.'

Glued into a vertical pile, he says, they make a colourful scratching post for Yorkshire terriers. Or 'with alternate volumes cut in twain, they build into an attractive toast-rack and conversation piece.' Mr Langley is working on a doctoral thesis into the coded references in the works of Archer, which 'will reveal that they were written by Francis Bacon (the painter) or Stuart Cockerill'.

'They should be packed into one's holiday baggage,' says Stuart Cockerill, 'to pre-mitigate its loss'. They could also be stored in prison libraries 'discouraging recidivism and satisfying proponents of the death penalty'. Staying with death, he writes: 'A noble lord is deserving of a noble farewell. Lord Archer should be laid atop his complete works on the deck of a Viking longship. The pyre can be lit and the ship thrust out to sea, rewarding the great man with a glorious immolation. Work towards this end should be commenced immediately, because it is only fair that our hero be alive to witness so devout a tribute.'

F Stevens suggests suspending the books by their covers from the ceiling of the House of Lords, contents hanging loose, to terrify their lordships with the threat of unpleasant droppings.

'Inspiration fails me, as it obviously failed him,' writes Paul McHugh. In a later letter, he recants and suggests making them into 'a popular radio serial that no one would listen to'. He suggests the title 'The Archers'.

'As encouragement to unpromising authors', or 'to create a bonfire of the vanities', suggests D C Godfrey, who asks that any cash prize he may win be given to Jeffrey Archer 'as he clearly loves money more than I do.'

Strangely, this week's prize is a second-hand copy of Shall We Tell the President? which we picked up at a primary school fete for 10p. (Half the original price on the day, as nobody would give 20p for it). It is on its way to Mollie Caird of Oxford who asks: 'Who is Jeffrey Archer? What did he write?'

Next week, we shall report on your ideas for ear-lobes and navels. Meanwhile, we seek ideas for the royal yacht, Britannia. Suggestions should be sent to Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'