Creativity

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Shun puns! advises Simon Walker. He says that hot puns make him irritable, cream puns are fattening and path puns are sticky underfoot. He also suspects "that Sian Cole must get some minor thrill from using two pairs of puns foreplay on words". Ms Cole herself says: "I used to be a punk until a puny punter punched me. Punch-drunk, I punctured her punditry with a punctilious punch line - a pun-jab." She also adds "a well-known rude sex pun", which she invites us to censor as needed. So we have.

"There was a young punster from Dunster," Doug Whetherly begins, but his second line ends in "custard" which doesn't really rhyme. So we've censored that too. Suffice it to say that he fell off a wall and lost his sense of humerus. Len Clarke points out that puns are very British things. "Thus, if you come across a peripatetic antipodean who teasingly asks what you'd call an English cemetery, and then cheerfully suggest `Pommes de terre', you know you're talking to a cobber."

Mollie Caird thinks our editor should insist that "a punning headline be sacrificed for every misprint. That should improve the quality of its Indepundance." Geoffrey Langley's Cousin Edna blames the New Expunentialism, and says that if you have tea after a pun you can Eireily spend the result on a glass of Murphy's or even pole it about on the Serpuntine. Mr Langley says, "We urged her to expunge the Irish reference, saying that a single pun is bad enough without Dublin it."

Brian Connor uses computer technology to link puns together on pun-nets, "always so useful for soft fruits". He envisages separate links for topical ones (current puns) and those referring to crucifix burnings (hot cross puns). Roy Askew asks how many Chelsea puns Ruud Gullit could manage. He suggests, however, that compulsive punning should be a punishable offence and asks whether an out-of-work baker really kneads the dough.

"Attach a net to it, fill it with strawberries and sell it at an exorbitant price at Wimbledon," says Carol Chapman. Or "take it to the doctor for its pun-jab and pack it off on holiday to India." Duncan Bull provides a recipe: "Mix fruity innuendo with laboured wit. Half bake. Let resultant current pun go thoroughly stale, then serve to politician for use in party conference speech."

Richard Gregory blames it all on Eve ("an essentially homes-pun person") whose original pun fell flat, which is why it has subsequently been of such use in pun-ting and pun-toon bridges. Spare ones are saved until the Christmas puntomime season.

"A pun's no fun

If done by one

But two or a few

Can shoo it through.

Can't you?" writes Maguy Higgs.

Prizes to Simon Walker, Geoffrey Langley's Cousin Edna and Brian Connor. Next week, things to do with cut corners. Meanwhile, we seek uses for spaghetti. Ideas will be fondly chewed over at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for those we like best.

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