Tuesday 23 September 1997
"On the assumption that an unknown object is the same as an indefinite article," writes Peter Fooks, "you could capitalise on it by lodging it at the beginning of your sentence." Bruce Birchall heads his reply: "Things to do with a Thingummy" and begins:
Sigh it, spy it, try it, buy it,
tie it, dye it, fly it, fry it.
feel it, steal it, seal it, deal it,
wheel it, peel it, kneel it, heal it.
RJ Pickles recommends erecting a Cenotaph commemorating the Unknown Object and filing past it on Creativity Day; this, he says, could be done in conjunction with a profound ontological, teleological and phenomenological theory of epistemological significance relating to whether the object is or not. "Wear it on your head at Ascot," says Andy Clarke. "Throw it up into the air for a genuine UFO," advises Shaun Patrick. "Put it in with your eggs and bacon as an Unidentified Frying Object," says Roy Askew. "Sell it to the Tate," said lots of people.
Bash it, gash it, thrash it, smash it,
slash it, splash it, stash it, cash it.
earn it, burn it, yearn it, spurn it,
turn it, churn it, learn it, kern it
(continues Bruce Birchall).
"Drop it into a vacuum and don't let any interfering vacuum cleaner hoover it up," says Patsy Abraham. "Firm it up and run it up the flagpole to see if anybody salutes it," says Bernard Coleman. Phil Worth says they make marvellous gifts and never lose their novelty value. "Use it as a means of avoiding unwanted gifts," says John Weir. "Thank you, but I've got one already."
"Cut it in half, float it in formaldehyde and call it `Creativity'," says Dale Bettison. "Put it in front of a mirror and have it reflecting on the unknown," says Peter Thomas, or take four of them to Germany and have vier of the unknown, or give it to a masochist for use as a "beats me".
Dorothee Harbort advises: "When in a hurry, avoid them; when at leisure, classify them," but she points out that classifying an unknown object will turn it into a known object, and then you'll have to classify it all over again.
Catch it, hatch it, thatch it, match it, patch it, batch it, scratch it, snatch it, dust it, trust it, lust it bust it,
thrust it, rust it, disgust it, adjust it
Rachel Greer sombrely advises: "There is, I feel only one thing should be done with such an object at this particularly sad and traumatic time for our nation. It should be renamed after Diana, Princess of Wales, and auctioned for charity." Later it could be repainted and used to help celebrate the millennium."
"Whatever you do with it," says Len Clarke, "since "x" in school sums always represented the unknown object, make sure you do it xcitingly, xaltingly, xcessively, xpeditiously, xuberantly, xplosively, or - if you're not too good at this sort of thing - xecrably."
Fill it, skill it, till it, will it,
spill it, swill it, quill it, kill it.
spawn it, fawn it, scorn it, mourn it
brawn it, lawn it, pawn it, adorn it (The epic continues).
Maguy Higgs is suspicious of our unknown object and thinks it may, in conjunction with person or persons unknown, have committed a crime. Steven Lorber recommends moving the unknown object to before the verb so that it becomes an unknown subject, then, as a British subject, it may apply for a passport which will grant it recognition everywhere. Tony Deaking suggests giving it to the Minister without Portfolio, who could then decide what not to do with it.
Hoard it, ford it, laud it, sword it,
board it, afford it, applaud it, record it. marry it, parry it, carry it, harry it,
quarry it, lorry it, MORI it, sorry it,
worry it, hurry it, slurry it, flurry it,
merry it, ferry it, sherry it, bury it
(Mr Birchall concludes).
Prizes to Tony Deaking, Peter Thomas and Roy Askew. Next week, original diagnoses of the ailments of artists. Meanwhile, however, we have a new problem. Wandering into a Wardour Street party last week to celebrate the new design of The Independent, I overheard a creative type saying to another: "They've changed to a thinner typeface and made a lot of use of negative space." We therefore seek things to do with negative space. Ideas to: "Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for those we like best.
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