Creativity: Getting in a twist over corkscrews

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ACCORDING to Stuart Cockerill - and he must be correct on this matter, for he has informed us of it several times now - the name of the Belgian racing driver, Thierry Boutsen, is phonetically equivalent to the Greek word for corkscrew. His other uses for corkscrews include art deco shoelaces, veterinary tools for the de-worming of cats and a negi-drive screwdriver.

On this last point, several readers took us to task for not specifying whether it was a right-handed or left-handed corkscrew. Sara MacAllen went blithely ahead and used hers for 'twirling spaghetti and other unruly pasta into edible lumps,' apparently unaware that left-handed fusilli are a gastronomic solecism of the worst order.

Heather Gregg uses her corkscrew for replacing corks in bottles, hair-curling and environmentally friendly hand-drilling. A more ambitious version of the latter is produced by John and Fiona Earle, who attach the corkscrew to the base of last week's broken umbrella to make an 'ecologically sound, wind-powered drill.'

Incorporating another earlier object, they describe how to use a corkscrew encrusted with drawing-pins and the 'central twanging bit' of a music-box. They also point out that with a silk thread attached, a corkscrew works as a dowsing rod for vintage port.

Among ideas suggested by more than one reader, we have a heavy-duty nose-picker, a piton for tree-climbers, an apple-corer, a stone remover from horses' hooves, and a tethering post for Yorkshire terriers. (Q: What do Norman Lamont and a corkscrew have in common? A: Both have appeared in this column as tethering posts for Yorkshire terriers).

Dennis Gardner offers a unicorn lure or a bindweed dibber; Madeleine Samuel proposes a helter-skelter for a small spider; Jo and Gerry Kandler suggest a prosthetic tail for a pig or, screwed into the ceiling, a resting post for passing bats.

We move on to neologisms. A few weeks ago, we gave some of your suggestions for concepts for which no English word exists. More recently, we had the first instalment of gap-filling words. Here is the second part:

The clean rectangle of wallpaper behind a picture: a pural (Mollie Caird).

The realisation, shortly after starting a DIY job, that it is going to take twice as long as planned: distemper (Marion Kumar), texagency (Tom Gaunt).

The all-pervading bleakness of commuters: brapathy (Mollie Caird), Grimethorpe (Lindsay Atkinson).

Nasty-tasting bit at end of banana: Yelvertoft (L Atkinson).

Last powdery bit of cereal in the packet: crumbits (Brian Hamer), scrimps (Josephine Brown's husband's Welsh former flatmate).

The violent emotion of the unrequitedly lovelorn: erosion - not to be confused with the frantic passion of shortly-to-be-unrequited love at first sight, which is lustre (both Marion Kumar).

Finally, as many readers have pointed out, 'thinking of a devastating answer to an argument when it is just too late' is exactly what the French call l'esprit de l'escalier, but of course we realised that as soon as the paper had gone to press. For an English equivalent we like Bob Maguire's 'post-inspired'.

Next week, we shall report on uses for fridge magnets. In the meantime, we have a new Creativity challenge for you - the punchline for which there is no joke. You enter a room where someone is finishing a joke. He tells the last line and everyone laughs, while you are bemused. What was the punchline?

All suggestions, except those from known jokes, will be gratefully received at Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. We should also like to hear from anyone who knows the word for someone's husband's Welsh former flatmate.