Readers have not been generous in their suggestions for the creative redeployment of former MPs. "String 'em up; it's the only language they understand," says Michael Rubinstein. "They should be taken out and shot," says Eric Brown, "preferably by the returning officer." He describes this as both an act of kindness and the ultimate voice of democracy. "Grind them into Euro-sausage," suggests Alex Harley.

More positively, Susan Tomes thinks they would make good vagrants, because they are used to sleeping on the benches. Or, she says, "give them auburn wigs and lead them to the Italian Masters rooms at the National Gallery, to be displayed as poly-Titians."

Several readers suggested combining MPs with the As from misspelt Independents that we had left over from a couple of weeks ago. Then they'd have maps to chart their future careers, or amps to boost the power supply. "Send them to Branson to help fill hot air balloons," says RJ Pickles.

Martin Brown sees their expertise at cheering and booing put to good use among live audiences of TV shows. Geoffrey Langley hopes to use their expertise in order-paper waving for a career as professional taxi-hailers or Mexican wave warmer-uppers.

"They can give 'Best Way to Lose Your Seat' lectures to members of Weightwatchers," says Brian Penson. TJ Stone points out that removing an MP can be an iortant matter of great iact. He iresses on us the iortance of putting them back in order to make Britain grempat agampin.

Robert Irving thinks they should be cast as Brutus in Julius Caesar, or employed as bricklayers to build more prisons. "I place my ex-MPs in a large container and boil them for some considerable time," begins Norman Foster. He uses the grease that rises to the top to oil the wheels of democracy, while the least attractive carcasses serve as sleeping policemen.

Sian Cole thinks they might help cultivate her "completely undeveloped steamy side". Other readers, however, believe that Ms Cole might be disappointed now that they have lost the whip.

Pauline Fleming has supplied a personal service with a specific list of ex-MPs and jobs she thinks they would suit. Malcolm Rifkind as a bagpipe tuner and Edwina Currie as the speaking clock seemed peculiarly appropriate. Maguy Higgs does it in verse, beginning:

Make them stand by their beds

with their caps on their heads,

Teach them discipline and

following of rules:

No more scandals, no more


Spartan sandals, bread and


In the manner of their one-time

public schools.

C Douglas has them as traffic bollards or tailors' dummies. David Hare thinks that six of them could form a drinks cabinet. Luela Palmer says that their recent experience in losing would make them natural selections for the England cricket team. "Put them in brown envelopes and sell them under the counter at Harrods," says Francis Pilkington. Mike Peart thinks they might be good at teaching people to give up their seats on public transport.

In the end, perhaps," concludes John Donnelly, "they will just have to get on their bike and look for a job, I'm afraid." Prizes to Francis Pilkington, TJ Stone and Susan Tomes. Next week, things to do with buttonholes. Meanwhile, we seek uses for dust. Ideas will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for those we like best.

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<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
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