CREATIVITY / No need to get hung up on telephones

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The Independent Culture
THINGS to do with telephones: Steph and Paul wrote in from the 0703 area with a number of sporting suggestions. Throwing the phone, after whirling it round by its cord, would simultaneously test whether it was properly connected and offer less danger to other athletes than the old-fashioned hammer. Placing the phone in a sound-proof unit and distributing the number to double-glazing salesmen is another of their ideas of sport, but their most inventive idea is 'The Speed Test Game: Can you phone your own number before it is engaged? Endless hours of amusement.'

Fiona and John Earle propose the use of telephones to reduce stress in financial traders or sales people: connect phones by a long flex to the top of a central pole. Instead of making calls from a desk, all staff must dance round the pole. If you stop dancing, you get cut off. They also believe that old-fashioned telephones would provide homeopathic psychiatric treatment for people with hang-ups.

Iain Lorriman, borrowing our Borges idea of a couple of weeks ago, provides a categorisation scheme for phone calls: when in lavatory; 3am wrong number; Lionel Ritchie; pointless; requiring excuse to terminate; from bank manager; 'I'm at (unintelligible owing to background noise) station'; 'meet me at (ditto)'. This omits a category currently comprising an estimated 37 per cent of all known telephonic communications: calls ineffectually made in an attempt to return someone else's call, only to discover that he is not available. Or does that come under 'pointless'?

Double-glazing salesmen (see above) are treated more harshly by Mollie Caird, who proposes dropping phones on their heads. Indeed, the phone as weapon was by far the most popular suggestion. 'The modern portable phone,' writes Stuart Cockerill, 'can, in the right hands, bring down a fully grown adult kangaroo at 200 yards or even be used to club very small seals. The household version, complete with cord, is rapidly replacing the bolas as the favoured tool of many Argentinian gauchos.' Or they can be melted down into colourful pizza toppings, he says. R M Hirst suggests encasing it in a block of concrete and going for the Turner Prize.

Richard Crowe points out how useful a phone can be in finding lost cats: 'Tie the cordless receiver to the cat's collar and when there is no response to your evening call of 'Dinniekins, Tiddles]' the errant beast may be located by using the 'page' facility.'

Next week, we will deal with out-of-date phone books. Meanwhile, (with thanks to Iain Lorriman for the suggestion) we'd like ideas for getting rid of unwanted guests. Ideas will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.