Creativity

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No sooner had we asked for uses for chewing-gum, than the news wires became clogged up with stories about the stuff. So today we have colonised the "Yesterday Was" column (up and to the right a bit) and stuck it full of gum stories. As usual, though, our readers had better ideas.

"Carefully place in the tread of one's shoes to retrieve lost coins," advises Steve Warner. He also mentions that it's cheaper than Blu-Tack and can be utilised as a good plumb-line when hanging wallpaper. Mike Peart mentions the new art movement "pavement pointillism", lamenting the fact that most exponents have not yet mastered the technique of getting their dots of chewing gum in the right order and location for a masterpiece.

Several readers advised giving gum to politicians: to keep their mouths occupied (C Douglas), or to see if they can walk and chew gum at the same time (Duncan Bull). Nick Harris divides his uses into BC (before chewing) and AC (after chewing). On the BC side, he includes attaching a strip of gum to a toy boat for a "Walk the plank" game for your pet mouse, or using it to make lasagne for people who invite themselves to dinner too often. Among his AC uses is an emergency substitute for denture cream.

Norman Foster advises jamming freshly chewed gum into the mouth of a fierce dog or a crashing bore "to stop their unwelcome outpourings". We couldn't read the rest of his letter because something seemed to be gumming up his typewriter. Richard Jones mentions loft insulation as being too obvious to mention. Less obviously, he uses it to restrain hyperactive children and as a fabric for haute couture: "When it goes out of fashion, chew it up and start again."

Jackie Tydeman asks: "Why don't local councils pave pedestrian precincts with chewing-gum in the hope that the local lads will drop expensive slabs of York stone all over it?"

"A useful tip which has more than once stood me in good stead," Gilbert Wood tells us, "is never to enter a submarine without a small supply of chewing-gum." If a small crack appears in the hull, he says, the gum is best applied from the outside. Wendy Bishop thinks it more useful for astronauts to counter the problem of weightlessness.

Paul & Steph mention the rather endearing practice of sticking gum to Christmas cards in order to add that extra personal touch. Sian Cole stores gum in her very lovely navel for convenient reuse and fluff-removing properties. Laurence Hammans has the idea of making a Millennium Mound out of discarded chewing-gum instead of the planned Greenwich Dome. Apart from other benefits, it could be done by a sculptor, which is much cheaper than hiring an architect. Mary Greenall uses it "to plug those tiresome holes in my colander". AJ Brewer says it's a subject he needs to chew over.

"Put it on hair to cure split ends," says RJ Pickles.

Prizes to Steve Warner, Gilbert Wood and Nick Harris. Next week, broken clocks. Meanwhile, we seek things to do with double-sided sticky tape. Ideas will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers 21st Dictionary prizes for those we like best.

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