'Perhaps, on reflection,' they add, 'they are meant to be useful on the fridge. The right range can let you know at a convenient glance what is inside. Ominously, our dinner looks set to be a mouse, two ducks and a car.'
Rupert Gude's fridge is not magnetic, so his fridge magnets have been borrowed by spiders for use as pitons when climbing the Aga. 'Attractive lapel badges for people with pacemakers,' says Joanne Shipton, while Caroline Hull has a more specific application for alphabet fridge magnets: 'They can be affixed to braces on teeth to make cartoon-style speech bubbles.' However, she warns against the anagrams that may be caused by a metal plate in the head.
P P Leary produces a fine set of ideas: Use them to hold wallpaper in place when decorating the inside of a submarine or bank vault; use to enliven an exhibition of welded-steel sculptures; take two, mutually attracted, for instant cufflinks; use as an external gauge of sword-swallower's progress; or irritate and deflate drivers of turbo-charged cars by surreptitiously adding the fridge magnet 'T' to the word 'Turbo'.
Practically, Luela Palmer points out their use in detecting aluminium cans for recycling, or extracting the iron filings from cheap red plonk. Michael Rubinstein believes their function may be to torment Yorkshire terriers trying to work out what they are for. He also points out how useful they are for trapping - before they enter the fridge - any flies fitted with tiny tinny metal rods.
Chris Bell says: 'Fridge magnets are intended to attract fridges. Unfortunately I do not have enough of them.' Which is odd, since N James claims that his massive crane-mounted electro-magnet has attracted nine fridges, a freezer and several hobs, which he has great pleasure arranging on the magnet each morning.
Stuart Cockerill gave all his fridge magnets away to trick-or-treaters last year, and confidently expects a more peaceful Hallowe'en this year. Geoffrey Langley denies knowing what a fridge magnet is.
Next week, we shall report on punch lines for which there is no known joke. Meanwhile, we seek uses, in this age of the tea-bag, for tea strainers. Suggestions, please, to: Creativity, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.