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Of course! Why didn't we all realise this before? A few weeks ago, we dealt with the problem of the `n's lost in misspellings of the word "millennium". Now, thanks to Chris Newman, we know why it's been happening: "The `n' from millennium," he says, "was obviously mistaken for a staple and was thus removed." This, I think, is all that need be said about errant staple-removers, though Mr Newman goes on to suggest that if all the fog in the air had been stapled down, it would not now be roaming our streets.

Maguy Higgs also sees staple-removers useful for removing `n's, though she capitalises hers first, and lays them on their side to produce Zs. A "ZZZ" remover then works as an alarm clock. She warns, however, that a staple remover could seriously damage Barnstaple.

Alexa Varah sees staple-removers as the solution to problems of rising sea levels. She advises using them to remove the staple diets of Americans, "thus making them thinner, and transplanting the staples to the diets of developing countries, thus making them fatter. This would equalise the weights of the continents and prevent some from sinking, while others are rising. Obviously."

"If you use a staple-remover on `staple-remover'," James Campbell points out, "you are left with an all-purpose remover, useful for removing stains and sprains, hunters and juntas, wimples and dimples, maples and Naples and, yes, even staples." Norman Foster tells us that beauticians have been using staple removers to remove zits, nasal hair and eyebrows. Local councils, he says, use specially strengthened ones to raise low bridges, while roadsweepers use them to prise chewing-gum from pavements. "The other day," he continues, "I was confronted by a rather obnoxious upper- class twit. I simply pulled out my trusty staple-remover and cut him right down to size by removing the hyphen from his double-barrelled name."

Maria O Treadwell has found a disgusting anagram of "staple-removers" (it begins with the word "lover"), while Sian Cole uses them "as substitute vibrators in the game of pass the vibrator". Apparently the rules specify passing the object from armpit to armpit through a third person's legs. Nicholas E Gough, on a higher plane, quotes Shakespeare: "He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument."

Duncan Bull has a neat money-saving tip: "Pierce holes in paper with a staple-remover. Then, utilising pliers, hammers, Elastoplast, etc., insert staples. This method obviates the need for buying a stapler." D Bettison uses his as a tea-bag dunker or, he says, add an elastic bag for clothes pegs on a windy day.

Mike Peart sees a staple-remover as "the essential rescue equipment to release centrefold models from their pain and discomfort." He also mentions dentures for edentulous snakes, DIY body-piercing and foreplay for punks.

Prizes to Chris Newman, Alexa Varah and Duncan Bull.

Next week we shall be reporting on what to do with the pound when we join a single European currency. Meanwhile, we have noticed a worrying increase recently in the number of dangling participles. Any ideas for things to do with them will be much appreciated at: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for the ones we like best.

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