Creativity

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"Socket to me, baby," says Susan Tomes among her suggestions for things to do with electrical plugs. She also mentions how curious it is that eyes, arms and hips have sockets, but we make plugs only for the ears. Phil Hellen also says "Socket to me!" and asks how long it will be before the expression "For two pins I'd ..." becomes "For three pins I'd ...". He sees it as a prime example of linguistic conservatism that the two-pin version has survived so long despite general rewiring. In another curious linguistic aside, AJ Brewer points out that the proper function of a plug (eg a bath plug) is to contain and prevent leakage. "An electrical plug," he points out, "facilitates the passage of electricity and should more correctly be called an unplug." Eric Dunkley, however, recommends plugging up all electrical sockets with plugs to stop the electricity seeping out. "Upturned," he adds, "they are handy as milking stools for miniature goats." Martin Brown tells us that his mother, back in the Seventies, "frequently filled the bath up with electricity in anticipation of power cuts." His great-uncle, however, found that by buying hundreds of electrical plugs and painting them lime green, he could finally use up all the tins of lime green paint that had been cluttering up his shed.

Rachel Carse plugs her plugs into beehives to enable the worker bees to rest against the prongs after a long day's nectar gathering. "Also, if you align the centre upright with the midday sun, the bees will be able to perform their figure-of-eight dance in waltz time around the prongs, thus ensuring happy bees and sweeter honey."

In general, current affairs and shocking advertisements featured most prominently among readers' ideas. Richard Jones, however, uses his plug as a fork for eating electric currants. He also points out that a plug tied behind your gerbil makes a perfect plough for the window box. Alex Harley straps them, points downward, to her gardening boots to make automatic lawn aerators. More gastronomically, she points out that they make excellent corn-on-the-cob holders. Just as tastily, however, Geoff Cuthbert says: "They are delicious when dipped in sherbet." Philip Marlow, however, prefers to invert them for use as designer multiple cocktail sticks, with canapes skewered on the prongs.

More ideas: cemented, prongs upwards to garden wall to deter cats, or novelty feet for modern furniture (Elaine and John Hopkinson); to seal leaks in our water mains (Duncan Bull); cemented to pub walls, prongs outwards, as bottle openers, or glued to the table as beer mat tidies (Norman Foster); left in soil to grow power plants (Linda Sargent); put on your wall to plug sockets into (Andy Barnett); Stonehenge substitute for ants, or glued back-to-back to frighten hedgehogs (Maguy Higgs). To imitate footprints of three-toed sloths" (RJ Pickles).

"Not many people," says Jack Dolan, "know they're used to make the finger holes in bowling balls for three-fingered people." Steve Warner recommends using one to turn on Sian Cole's hard drive. He is also working on a version of the game of three-pin bowling, but "it doesn't seem to roll very far yet". He thinks that disconnecting it from the microwave may help. Finally, Peter Barnard recommends dumping them all in the Atlantic to save mankind from conquest by intelligent computers.

Prizes to Steve Warner, Richard Jones and Eric Dunkley. Next week, things to do with toadstools. (Chris Newman says that electrical plugs are just the right size for toads' three-legged stools.) Meanwhile, we seek uses for snooker tables. Ideas will be 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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