Creativity

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Toadstools, Carol Blake advises, should be sent with haste to Bethlehem, for there was not mushroom at the inn. Chris Newman, however, suggests that "the next time problems start mushrooming, some of them should toadstool instead in the interests of biodiversity". He also mentions that when Toad's car broke down, Ratty used Toad's tools to fix it. This was one of many references to do-it-yourself amphibians, which was perhaps the most popular idea, though run close by toads' tools for making baby toads, and toad stools as fertiliser or for medical diagnosis.

Anne Babbs writes:

"Not mush room in your house for a pet?

Not impressed by a Japanese whim?

Then consider a toadstool for company;

You'll never be lonely with him."

Jackie Howard offers the useful tip of growing a protective ring of toadstools around your house to act as bollards to deter ram-raiding mice. Or, she says, you can grow them on the bathroom wall for use as towel hooks. Margaret Woods mentions that you can pick toadstools with forceps. Peter Bernard says it is polite to offer a toad a stool when you hear a voice saying: "I'm going to croak if I don't sit down soon." Anne Babbs continues:

"He's small and he's quite unobtrusive.

He's housetrained and perfectly dry.

He'll never desire any batteries,

And remain yours, a truly fungi." More brief ideas: footrests for frogs' legs (Wendy Denison); to rest on after a frog march (RJ Pickles); biodegradable Christmas decorations - or for use in condom ads (Robbie Jones); remove the stalk to make an attractive Ascot hat for a rodent (Andrew Berry); umbrellas for small mammals (Paul Collyer); umbrellas for New Labour gnomes - available on the elf service (Leslie Hughes); as a cheap teaching aid in lessons on the gyroscope (Rachel Carse).

Several readers mentioned the connection between fly agaric and the button mushroom, but John and Fiona Earle advise "Never fly Agaric - it's a poisonous airline." Geoffrey Langley mentions that "the most creative toadstool is Amanita Phalloides which, producing as it does, sweating, convulsion and confusion, gives salacious Sian Cole the perfect platform from which to launch more contributions that Creativity dare not print in full." Sian herself tells us how much she'd enjoy sitting on a toadstool if she were a fairy. Here's what happened when Norman Foster ate a toadstool in the hope of inspiration:

"Immediately the room darkened and chilled, only to be lit up by a large glowing figure in the corner. He told me his name was William and he was on a quest to find the Princess Sian. He gave me a thesaurus and said she was surely hidden in there somewhere. He also gave me a medal to present to her and warned me to beware of something that sounded like fluff. Then he grinned and flew out of the window." Back on earth, Alex Harley explains how to trim dandelion leaves to fit the sole of your foot, then implant a toadstool stalk between big toe and its neighbour to make a rather fetching pair of flip-flops.

"And if you ever tire of your toadstool (Ms Babbs concludes),

Take a lichen to somebody new,

Show old toadie your skills in the kitchen

And then bung him into your stew."

Renee Gallagher and John Dolan, however, warn that it is unforgivable to call your pet toadstool "spot". Prizes to Anne Babbs, Jackie Howard, Chris Newman. Next week, things to do with snooker tables. Meanwhile, J McIlwain has some used isobars he doesn't know what to do with. All ideas welcome at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for those we like best.

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