Renee Gallagher and John Dolan point out that if each of the 5 billion or so people in the world enjoy a leap second, it adds up to about 158 years, "which is just about long enough to postpone the millennium until the celebrations are organised". In similar fashion, Geoffrey Langley arrives at the figure of 159 years, which he thinks should be taken away from 1997, leaving us in 1838, "four years before the cession of Hong Kong to the British, thus giving ample time for a change of heart." Alternatively they recommend splitting the second and keeping it for when split-second timing is needed. Chris Williams has his split seconds packaged up to sell at exorbitant prices to rich Americans who want to increase their life-spans.
It's amazing how much Sian Cole can get up to in a second (sorry, no room to go into details) - which perhaps explains why Eric Brown can think of nothing better than to spend his second in her company. "Think first, leap second," says Norman Foster.
"Give it to a hedgehog," says Mollie Caird. "Every hedgehog is so infested with ticks, it won't notice one more." RJ Pickles says "devote it to second thoughts". He also thinks we should all demand overtime pay. Richard Faloon was not prepared for our question and is having to pause a second to consider it. Duncan Bull will hoard his leap second until autumn, when he will turn his clocks back by only 59 minutes and 59 seconds, "thus lessening the trauma of suddenly darker evenings".
"Ideally," says Ann Phillips, "it should be spent by a married woman in proposing to a second husband, and by the man concerned in escape - with one leap, Carruthers was free."
John Harrison says: "You could have a secondment as Second Officer to the committee set up to have second thoughts on starting up a second front during the Second World War." Or you could have the Third World War, which, with nuclear weapons, would last only a second. Or, as James Nicholas suggests, you could use it to deliver second-class post on time for once. In a second letter, John Harrison has second thoughts: "As one second equals roughly half a mo', it's time to cut a fair bit of the lawn."
Abigail Titley cautiously advises investing it in "a sort of Tessa for time". Then you could take time out when you need it. She's a bit worried, though, that the account might still need 90 days' notice. D Whetherly will be having a drink in the Second Chance Saloon while playing a 33rpm disc of the "Minute Waltz" at 1,980 rpm.
"An extra second will allow me to get out of the bath in time to answer the phone," says Leslie Hughes damply. Tim Samuel wants to give them all to South West trains "to let them continue running in their own time". Alex Harley, after savouring the moment, plans to spend the next six months trying to adjust her digital watch. "Tax it," says Martin Brown - luckily too late for Gordon Namesake to take up the suggestion. He also suggests that instead of giving us a leap second each, they should have a special National Lottery, "with the winner receiving a year and three runners- up a month each".
Prizes to Janet Rimmer, John Harrison and Duncan Bull. Next week, puns. Meanwhile, there has been a debate in our letters page about the origins of corner-cutting. Any ideas for things to do with cut corners will be welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for senders of those we like best.Reuse content