"What to do with doorbells?

Don't think you've got me beat;

It's easy: ring 'em seven times

And run off down the street"

(writes Maguy Higgs).

Len Clarke says he paints his doorbell blue every midwinter. then charges the neighbours to come and look at his early bluebell. Mollie Caird suggests installing them on things that are hard to get into, such as sardine tins, last year's bathing suits and novels by Thackeray. Susan Tomes uses them to produce cut-price Wagner: "Install a doorbell on your bike saddle," she advises. "That way, whenever you get on your bike, you'll be performing a Ring Cycle." David Hey has a good way to silence doorbells: "Join two together to make a dumb-bell."

"Connect them to your kettle,

So when the water's boiled,

You hear the bell and all can tell

The tea's not being spoiled."

(continues Maguy Higgs).

"In this age of technology," says S Montgomery, "doorbells should be reprogrammed to produce an authentic knocking sound." Alternatively, he suggests incorporating a fingerprint recognition system into them, to stop them ringing when unwanted visitors call. John Burrows had a similar idea, but with a range of different tunes identifying the precise identity of all visitors. "Recreate the original University Challenge using eight doorbells and an orange wig," says Stuart Cooper. He also recommends carrying a doorbell with you at all times in case you arrive at a house without one. That would, at least, foil the intentions of a friend of Len Clarke's, who keeps his doorbell under the mat: "Then he knows when someone visits, 'cos they're still there looking for the doorbell."

"With half a dozen neighbours,

Compose a little choir;

Some doorbells ping a basso ring,

Others, rather higher"

(Maguy Higgs perseveres).

"A serviceable home orchestra could be put together from the doorbell, the burglar alarm, the smoke alarm, car horn and bicycle bells with the percussion section drawn from kitchen utensils," says Mike Peart, who also mentions that the push-button part may be installed in the navel of bell-y dancers.

Sian Cole says: "to replace my worn-out knockers". Linda Browning, however, maintains: "Doorbells have had a bad press; let's silence the knockers and ring their praises."

"Some people keep a parrot,

so when the doorbell sounds, Poll answers with a 'Golly!'

Or even 'Zut!' or 'Zounds!'"

(Maguy Higgs persists).

The full text of Ms Higgs' epic poem "Summoned by Doorbells" is available on application. Prizes to Maguy Higgs, S Montgomery and David Hey.

Next week, TV-and-video-channel-changer-remote-control-thingies - and what to call them. Meanwhile, there's been a curious outbreak of kangaroo and wallaby stories in the press recently (mostly on the loose in Germany) suggesting that people generally don't know what to do with these marsupials. Any suggestions? Ideas to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers 21st Dictionary prizes for the best ones.

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