"Spin doctors?" asks Liz Fowler. "Turn them in their graves." Ciarn Ryan says: "If one hand is used as a speaker and the other holds a needle, a spin doctor at 45 rpm could play patients' records." He also believes they may have been responsible for many medical revolutions. John Donnelly says they are very useful at finding imaginary solutions for hypochondriacs' ailments.
C Harrison provides a historical footnote, dating the practice back to the "spinning doctors" or Luddites of the early 1700s who practised on patients such as the famous Spinning Jenny. "It is warming to see that they have not forgotten their industrial heritage," he says, "and remain associated with spinning coarse yarns." Liz Golding, however, dates them back many centuries to remote parts of Asia where they treated whirling dervishes. Today's spin doctors, she maintains, while treating arachnophobes, keep up to date with the latest developments on the World Wide Web.
Luela Palmer accuses them of sticking "78 rpm" labels over LPs to enhance their collectability. The term also has a secondary meaning, she claims, for doctors who assess surgical priorities by tossing a coin. "To test the state of English cricket before the patient dies," says Elaine Bisco. "To mend the hum in spinning tops or to twirl puffs of candyfloss," says Alison Blackburn. Hazel Laitner says they can teach weaving skills to homeless spiders.
"Spin doctors are boring fellows," says AJ Brewer. "A spin doctor who spins on the spot will rapidly produce a bore-hole." Geoffrey Langley points out that spin doctors who qualify as surgeons become spin misters. C Douglas confirms their value in NHS hospitals for turning slow consultants' rounds into speedy spin-doc tours. He also points out that maypole dancers may be cured of that spinning feeling by prescribing the smaller tad-poles.
Prizes to Gary Marshall, Luela Palmer and Alison Blackburn. Next week, useful things to do with tonsils. Meanwhile, following the acute joy we felt in typing the name Ciarn earlier, and the grave failure the French had trying to abolish the circumflex a few years ago, we seek things to do with accents. Ideas to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Combined Dictionary-Thesaurus prizes for the best.