"Every thousand years," writes Martin Brown, "motorways cross-pollinate and the resulting seeds grow to fruition within distinctive orange and white cones. This inspired mimicry results in the organically conceived cones being widely dispersed by careless road maintenance engineers, drunken students and other light-fingered carriers. Seedlings then sprout to become fast-growing, rapacious motorways, allowing Mother Nature to celebrate the millennium by covering the entire country in motorways."
"Cones are the root tips of giant Australian carrots coming through from down under," explains Len Clarke. "That is why, when you get rid of one lot, another lot mysteriously appears a couple of hundred yards further on."
"The proliferation of cones on our motorways is easily explained," John Donnelly writes. "In the making of Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg ordered a quantity of large, plastic dinosaur teeth for his Tyrannosaurus Rex model. A simple typing error, transposing millions for millimetres, led to enormous quantities being produced. Shrewdly, Mr Spielberg unloaded the vast surplus on the British Department of Transport which, in part, explains the large profits the film made."
Things to do with cones: Dunces' caps for Ministers of Transport (Mollie Caird). Replacement nose for Concorde or ear trumpet for deaf elephant (David Guest). Megaphones, Madonna bra-cups, witches' hat-box, codpiece for the well-endowed (several readers).
Sterilise them before they colonise the planet (RJ Pickles). Suitably filled and mounted on the roofs of ice-cream vans (Simon Collins). Cemented in a circle on a piece of wasteland to create a cone circle for our descendants to wonder about (Tanya Almeida).
"In the light of the Nolan report," Philip Jaggard writes, "cones may come into their own as a penance by transgressing ministers and MPs. Standing in corners optional."
"Motorway cones are honest cones done up with red tape," John and Fiona Earle explain. They suggest three cones as the sign of a government ministry.
Slalom markers, coffee-filter holder, sand castle mould, Long John Silver prop, slug trap, something else to leave in patient after invasive surgery, condom for the insensitive, portable font, umbrella for the very thin, emergency enema funnel (all David Newport).
Ostrich egg cosies, street light extinguishers, anti-roosting devices on chimney pots, swordfish protection, posy holder for the Statue of Liberty (all M Joy).
"If you cut the tip off a motorway cone and fill it with gritty soaps," Geoffrey Langley points out, "it can be used to ice the media cake that everyone seems to be wittering on about." He also mentions that a motorway cone is the ideal mould for making motorway cones.
"Motorway cone," Nicholas E Gough has noticed, is an anagram of "Come to Norway".
Bernard Jaffa sees motorway cones as compliant reserve jurors in the O J Simpson trial. Luela Palmer uses them upside down for growing giant carrots. Sian Cole simply advises "sexual aids". Bill Longley suggests muzzle for giant ant-eater, mute for a tuba, diving pod for garden gnome or hat for traffic warden ("to prevent motorists from parking on them").
"To make road cones less of an eyesore," J Goldner helpfully suggests, "they can be painted in camouflage greys and tarmac shades." He adds that dogs owners should at all times be obliged to carry a cone to cover up their pets' indiscretions.
Place across roads as stepping stones for pedestrians, suggests F G Robinson, among whose other 105 ideas are: inserted into sand for easy entry/withdrawal by claustrophobic ostriches; put to your ear and traffic sounds; bells for silent campanology; shower-cap; wall of death for motorcycling fleas; giant's thimble; Olympic torch holder.
"Cones are used in the manufacture of hi-tech broomsticks to prevent witches' cloaks tangling in the rotor blades." says Choonyibib, who also suggests filter funnel for extracting gold dust from the Yukon, sleeves for Vivienne Westwood, and drinking horns for Viking feasts. Prizes to John Donnelly, Bill Longley and Martin Brown.
Next week we shall deal with old typewriters. Meanwhile, following the recent offer made by Lloyds, we seek frivolous things to do with pounds 2.8 bn. Ideas should be sent to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, to arrive by 7 June. We have three copies of Chambers Encyclopaedic Dictionary for the most inspired offerings.Reuse content