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Following our request for things to do with snails, John Snow has sent us a detailed account of the old English pastime of snail-hurling. "It is distantly related to the ancient game of chess," he tells us, "in that the field of play is based on the knight's move - two squares forward and one sideways." That explains why it is almost exclusively played in the regularly-spaced gardens of suburbia. Warning against "the wilful and careless disturbance of the garden in search of snails," Mr Snow recommends morning play, after light rain. Younger players may be brought into the game with the junior version, which substitutes a pawn's opening move (snail to be hurled into the next garden but one) rather than the tricky knight's move.

A different interpretation comes from Sian Cole: "I'll strip off completely naked," she says, "lie back and think of France. Then I'll set six snails off from my creamy white belly-button and see where they get to in 30 minutes." She plans to submit the results of the research to The Independent.

Mike Woods sees snails as "escargots for slow boats to China". Mark Hopkinson prefers to use them as drop earrings or nose-plugs for underwater swimming. Tiffany Sherlock says they are simply super for licking stamps, and always keeps one handy on her writing-desk. Duncan Bull suggests that teaching snails to play chess would speed up the game. "Mobile homes for elves," John Dolan and Renee Gallagher say.

"It isn't widely known that snails

Have secret weapons in their tails" (Maguy Higgs begins).

Helen Fearnley suggests that snails may have been the first cosmonauts, "because everybody talks about a `snail space'." John Holmfield wants to use snails as hooks - the `S' at each end for meat and the `nail' in the middle to hang your hat on. "Mobile pebble-dash for houses," says RJ Pickles. "Two snails do not make a jungle," says Martin Brown, advocating increased use of snails in proverbs.

"This piece of esoteric knowledge

Came to me long ago at college" (Ms Higgs explains). Anyway, to cut a long poem short, she found some warrior snails ("I called them Shelley, one and all, Since all were round and none was tall") and found that they protect virgins from unwanted sex. Alternatively, she says, you can dip them in toffee (the snails, not the virgins).

Genevieve Clutton advocates being kind to snails by putting a pair of them about a metre apart facing each other "so they can have a happy reunion in a few years' time."

JE Lamper suspects that the real reason the French eat snails is because they don't like fast food. He also points out that if you remove a snail carefully from its shell, you can use it as a slug. "Male snails," Susan Tomes informs us, "form the readership of top-shelf slug magazines featuring photographs of female snails without their shells on." Mollie Caird tells us that the introduction of Roman snails into Italian vineyards is proving to be an effective control for the rampant wild spaghetti.

Doug Whetherley says they make good third-class postmen, or great pets for hyperactive children or postilions on slow coaches.

Maguy Higgs writes again to apologise for the inappropriate references to virginity. She substitutes the following:

Hail to thee bright mollusc,

Stirred thou ever wert;

Like Bonaparte, marching on

your tummy.

No you travel not at random,

But in columns or in tandem,

To be served with garlic, parsley

butter, yummy!"

James Hickey tells us of the game of mollusc darts, where snails are thrown at a standard darts board, where they stick by virtue of their super-slime. Spare snails can work as guards at sites for bypasses to prevent eco-worms tunnelling underground to disrupt construction.

Prizes to JE Lamper, Susan Tomes and John Snow. Next week, seashells. Meanwhile, we seek uses for compact discs. Ideas welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes to those we like best.

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