Creativity

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Thingies, zappers, flickers, Franks (as in Frank Zappa), dooberries, jigamarees ... but nobody really came up with a better name for this week's creative challenge than "TV-and-video-channel-changer-remote-control-thingy." Neither did anyone explain why they're always black. (Apparently it's something to do with the production process. It was all explained on our Obituaries page a couple of years ago.) Anyway, here's what you can do with them.

"Confuse the neighbours," suggests Nick Harris, "by finding out who has the same model video and standing outside the window and taping middle- of-the-night Open University programmes on VideoPlus numbers for them to ponder over breakfast." When you can't find it, he recommends its use as a dust monitor.

Mike Peart sees it as a "My First Mobile Phone" toy for the kids, "or existing mobile phone users can use the thing to practise entering long numbers with the impressive speed often seen on American TV programmes."

Maguy Higgs, who calls hers "Robert", uses it as a doorstep for the cat. David Arrowsmith's is called DAVID (Digitally Activated Video Initiating Device). "To call this object a `thingy'," complains AJ Brewer, "seems quite derogatory, so it is no wonder that it seeks to hide from those who address it in such terms." In his household they always call it a "battery powered, hand-held, electronic, remote-control device, designed to operate the power switches and adjust the various control circuits of our television apparatus, video-cassette recorder, and audio-playing and recording equipment."

SJ Montgomery uses his to activate a remote-controlled doorbell, "ensuring that both parties arrive at the door at the same time". Mr Soul impresses young ladies at his local launderette in Slough by shouting "Buy, buy, buy," into his (with no monthly standing charge!). He also finds that saying "Kirk out!" or "Energise!" into one is an effective way of finding a seat on a rush-hour tube. Carpet underlay, says Lawrence Hammans. Non- slip soles for children's shoes, says Mollie Caird.

Jennifer Aspden proposes calling them "male appendages" because "they are permanently attached to the ends of male fingers."

"Sex aids," says Sian Cole, adding: "I'd use one to turn me on." John Donnelly, however, mentions: "I've always known that they are not Chinese vibrators, as many ladies believe." He always believed their primary purpose was to rectify wobbly television stands by placing them under one leg. Mr Donnelly fears, however, that they may soon be rendered obsolete, "by the simple process of designing push button controls on the TV set itself".

"Collect a large number of them," advises RJ Pickles, and develop an esoteric game of dominoes." He calls his The Black Controller. Prizes to: John Donnelly and Nick Harris.

Next week, we'll tell you what to do with kangaroos and wallabies. Meanwhile, we seek things to do with chewing-gum. Ideas to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers 21st Dictionary prizes for the best ones.

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