creativity: escalating degrees of originality

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First, speeding to us up the down escalator of postal tardiness, comes a late idea for hammocks. With a television as lure, Libby Jones tells us, you can lure a couch potato onto one, then push it through to make chips.

Jumping back on the escalator, we have numerous ideas, but none quite so poetic as that of John Brewer:

"The moving staircase climbs and then moves on

Into the space where man has never gone.

Each riser and each tread is folded flat

And posted through the corrugated slat

Returning re-emergent at the base

To follow others in their upward chase." (More later.)

Mark Walmsley points out that with the aid of escalators, the Daleks could have taken over the world. Hillary O'Hanlon points out further that if you put all the escalators in the world end to end, the Daleks could invade heaven.

"Escalators," Linda Browning says, "are just one of life's ups and downs, so why dwell on them?"

Jon Stratton proposes dismantling an escalator to see how it works, then using the knowledge to develop a de-escalator, to counter every expanding crisis. "Use to turn arguments into international incidents," say Maggie Budden and Mark Bell. MA Toseland believes escalators to be trouble-enhancers, "the monosodium glutamates of relationships".

Mollie Caird, however, believes the escalator to be a delicate precision instrument used for the scientific measurement of degrees of violence. "To launch Britain's first space rocket," says RJ Pickles.

"But what occurs, far from the madding crowd?

(To tell you only now can be allowed.)

Behind the scenes the elves have made their homes.

(In Paris, these, of course, are metro-gnomes.)"

Frank Card sees them as a device for literary appreciation, to understand how Alice stayed in the same place no matter how hard she ran. "In pairs", says Geoffrey Langley, "they breed stairlifts." He also sees them as an easy way for bakers to get dough to rise.

A Rakowitsch thinks an escalator would have made a great concertina for King Kong to serenade Fay Wray: "It might have stopped her screaming so much."

"Escalators are a sub-species of alligators," says Bill Fowler. "You have only to look at the teeth." Rent escalators to sex therapists, advises David Walton, so the deprived may know how it feels for the earth to move for them. "Heavy duty tortoise opener," says Michelle Varney.

Dry ski runs, career advancement, raising families, reaching high notes and/or social climbing, were suggested by many. "Useful when stairs are not working," says Tim Willcocks. Drop pasta dough on top, says Giles Bowman, get tagliatelle at bottom. Or potatoes at the top and chips at the bottom, which is where we came in.

Prizes to A Rakowitsch, T Willcocks and J Brewer. Next week, rubber gloves. Meanwhile, we seek uses for clouds. Ideas to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore prizes for the best.

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