CREATIVITY / Batty ideas for broken brollies

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The Independent Culture
BATS featured prominently in your suggestions of uses for broken umbrellas. 'Companion for a lonely bat,' suggests Madeleine Samuel, though D Godfrey maintains 'they could be suspended from one's bedroom ceiling to deter bats'. Christine Osborne suggests hospital beds for injured bats, or hides for bat- watching, while Steph and Paul propose the substitution of black umbrellas for bats in zoos, thus saving on bat food. More kindly, they have the idea of sending them all (umbrellas not bats) to the Sahara, where they need not feel inferior to unbroken ones.

'A broken umbrella,' Lesley Billett claims, 'keeps one dry during scattered showers,' while on a similar theme, D Godfrey thinks broken umbrellas are perfect for periods of broken cloud. Most simply J Williams says: 'They keep you dry when it's not raining.' Neil Cooke says they 'fill the otherwise unused corners of a skip'.

John and Fiona Earle are concerned about which bits of the umbrella remain unbroken. They propose using the handle as a template for curling haggis, the handle and shaft as a hockey stick, three handles and a shaft as the base of a small hatstand, and the canopy as a waterproof mini-skirt. Tom Hinds believes a broken umbrella would work as a satellite receiver for TV weather forecasts.

Geoffrey Langley proposes 'an economical substitute for a crosier should the Church of England's financial position deteriorate'. James Snowden believes them to be essential accessories for an umbrella stand, 'our two, as yet, unbroken ones being inadequate to give the proper effect'. Sara MacAllen's 'cosmic consciousness headgear' is another fashionable suggestion, though we cannot help but prefer Heather Gregg's 'suicide bid by Mary Poppins'.

Several garden uses have been suggested. J M McCloy proposes a plant-support, simultaneously sheltering from the weather and keeping the plant watered, in a way only a broken umbrella can. Heather Gregg has a similar plan for shrubs, slowly opening the umbrella as 'an inverted form of topiary'.

Michael Rubinstein says: 'Erect in garden as a perch for lost birds, probably looking for Covent Garden, like so many birds lost in London.' Mr Rubinstein does not explain how those lost birds are expected to find his garden in Hertfordshire. Perhaps more broken umbrellas could be erected as

signposts.

We are disturbed by a noticeable trend in contributions to this column. Several months ago, we used to receive healthy ideas on how to use the Object of the Week to torment Yorkshire terriers. Recently, however, there has been a noticeable thread of sado-masochism from certain correspondents. Someone signing himself only 'Mr G' says: 'The obvious use for broken umbrellas is for sadists to surreptitiously jab people in the eye whilst roaming the streets aimlessly.' Joanne Shipton suggests: 'The handles and spokes of a broken umbrella, fixed upright to a turntable, would make an excellent rotating flagellate for sado-masochistic Tory MPs.' 'Stripped of its canvas,' says Stuart Cockerill, 'it could save a spider a lot of trouble.' He also suggests 'a reservoir of spare parts for England's premier footballers'.

Next week, we shall report on corkscrews. Meanwhile, we should like your ideas, practical or otherwise, for what to do with fridge magnets. All suggestions to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

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