Creativity: Skating around the issues

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GREAT things are happening in the world of reusable ice- skates, Antony Savory informs us. He mentions their use as sundials (particularly for measuring the inordinate length of time taken for ice-skating to disappear from the television schedules), or by over-enthusiastic gardeners to remove soil from beneath their fingernails. He also confirms a sighting of ice-skates used as trunk-pins by punk elephants.

Richard Booth recycles the blades into double axles and the laces into double toe loops, which, oddly enough, is exactly what Geoffrey Langley thinks time is trapped in during the average ice championship. He also proposes that they be used for pressing mortar into joints during bricklaying, for crimping pastry, for imitating the sound of a badly shod horse galloping across a tin roof, or, welded together blade-to-blade, as a 'trivet to protect one's Sheraton table from the hot cottage pie'. Len Vaux also uses his in the kitchen: 'One in each hand to cut fresh pasta into strips which are then tied artistically in pairs to make Torvillini.' Several correspondents came up with the creative idea of wearing them on the feet. 'To enable desert travellers who chance to be hemmed in by cacti to trample a way out,' says Mr Langley, while 'mt of surbiton' believes that hassle- free ploughing may be obtained by donning ice-skates and harnessing yourself to a pack of dogs. He (or she) also recommends them to Group 4 as a means of immobilising prisoners in transit.

Nicholas Gough returns to the garden to use them, with nimble footwork, for trimming the edges of lawns. Gwen Evans has the same idea, but adds a helper with an old pram to transport the skater between flower beds without damaging the lawn, while Sara MacAllen further embellishes the idea by performing a swift double axle to stamp out a few moles and voles. Paul McHugh speeds up food preparation by skate- chopping vegetables on the floor, leaving the hands free for another task. He also points out how useful ice-skates are for maintaining stability on tube trains, where the blades fit snugly into the flooring grooves. Or 'yoked in tandem by the laces, a pair of ice-skates make a dinky sledge for a pair of gerbils'.

Heather Gregg proposes lending a skate to Conservative Central Office for a local election campaign symbol: 'A white skate on a blue background with a red caption warning, 'On Thin Ice'.' Several other contributors also mentioned ministers on thin ice, though not as many as proposed boot-scrapers or ice- breakers at parties. 'What could be better,' asks Sara MacAllen, 'to break the ice at an otherwise boring cocktail party? Flamenco music in the background, the host and hostess juggling green limes as their silver-skate clad feet rhythmically stamp on chunks of ice to provide their 'Ole, ole' cheering guests with frozen margaritas.'

Cutting frozen meat, zesting lemons or pirouetting on the tips for use as a drill are the ideas of John and Fiona Earle. Then for an encore they dip the blades in ink and draw musical staves.

'Stick them on the upright posts of bannisters,' suggests Ann Wolff, 'to make them look kinky.' On second reading, we are not quite sure whether this says 'bannisters' or 'barristers'. Whichever it is, she assures us that Hundertwasser has already done it at the Kunsthaus in Vienna.

Heather Reynolds uses them (ice-skates, not barristers), one on its side and one inverted, as a house plus gymnasium for an athletic mouse. The blades make parallel bars or beam as desired.

Mollie Caird proposes the institution of a new award to sports commentators: a pair of skates to be hung round the neck ('albatross-wise') of every journalist who goes on and on and on about T & D.

A couple signing themselves 'Steph Torvill and Paul Dean' suggest they should be worn to add to the challenge for tightrope walkers, or fixed to the wall, toes outwards, they make a combination tie-rack and house-plant pot.

Ice football, 'far more fun than ice hockey', is another of their ideas, and their communication ends with the idea that one might 'sharpen the blades, fit steel toecaps and kick in your rivals' knees'. This might have been viewed as tasteless had not other correspondents mentioned Mrs Bobbitt and mass circumcision ceremonies.

Among Stuart Cockerill's ideas are a false tooth for a great white shark, a razor blade for a macho Ukrainian, a Ladyshave for Tonya Harding, and a handy cat-sized guillotine. He has also been using one for scraping the hard-disk on his computer. The silly boy tells us he installed dos 6 on the compressed drive and had a CVF fault. He was lucky to have an ice-skate handy, though probably last week's cactus would have done the trick as well.

Next week, we shall report on your suggestions for fizzy drink ring-pulls. Your next assignment, should you choose to accept it, is a long-playing gramophone record. Ideas should be sent to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

Michael Rubinstein - an apology: last week we printed Mr Rubinstein's suggestion that a cactus be used 'to be sat on when hair shirts are in short supply'. This should have read 'hair shorts' not 'hair shirts'. We apologise for any injuries caused to people who may have sat on cacti in error, or for any inconvenience suffered by Mr Rubinstein or his reputation.