creativity : mad cows and Englishmen

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What to do with a mad cow? "Cut it into pieces," says a card from Islington bearing the signature T Blair, "sell them to the people, and have a steak-holder economy." For some reason, our mention of mad cows seems to have brought out the political punditry in our readers. The phrases "replace it with John Major" and "send it to the Lords" were extremely popular. "Any mad cow," says Duncan Bull, "should be sent to graze on College Green besides the Houses of Parliament. In comparison with some of her new neighbours, she would seem 200 per cent sane." Ciarn Ryan, more caringly, advises: "Leave it in its herd. Its community will take care of it." Kevin Skelding says send it to a health farm. Mark Walmsley says send it to the funny farm.

Gail Lees is surprised we have a problem with mad cows in view of the tested method for dealing with them: "The other members of the herd should hold a cabinet meeting and vote her out of the field."

"One could calm down a mad cow," says Olive Cork, "by telling it that Damien Hirst was on show at the Tate pickled in alcohol." Several others recommended giving it to Damien Hirst, christening it "Damien", or giving Damien Hirst to it.

"Interview it on Panorama" was another popular idea, while china shops also featured prominently. "Parade outside shop," suggests Harold Stone, "to distract bull while china is removed." J Hampson sees it more as a therapist for bulls in china shops.

"Mad Cows Week," Stuart Cooper tells us, "is when insane yachtsmen race each other round the Isle of Wight."

"Keep them in quarantine," advises RJ Pickles, "to discover whether symptoms are due to long association with mankind." Susan Gidden believes that mad cows "may soon be required as substitutes for canine noonday escorts when rabies is eradicated".

Robin Brock-Hollinshead has a handy gardening tip: "A carefully ground- up mad cow dug into your allotment should enable you to grow a mad cucumber, thus giving vegetarians their fair share of anguish." Janet Lennard, however, proposes adorning one with a rosette declaring "Nemesis Rules OK" as a rebuke to carnivores. More ideas:

A more random method for Swedish cow-droppings lottery, or audition judge for Anchor butter adverts, or guinea pig for new "Cow in the Community" initiative (all from Garry Marshall); release it onto BR tracks as a new excuse for late arrivals (Harold Stone); alternative page 3 girl (J Hampson); to trim the grass in the cracks between crazy paving, or fillet it to make nut burgers (Stephen Rose).

Maurice Hulks sees a mad cow as an agony aunt: "If you think life's offal and it makes you low, don't just churn inside, call Aunty Daisy now." And a final word from John Brewer:

"From abattoirs hung with Wisteria, Beefeaters, with cries of hysteria, Maintain (as they see), There is no BSE, But they fear there might still be listeria." Prizes to Garry Marshall, J Hampson, Stephen Rose.

Next week, astrologers. In the meantime, we seek ideas for things to do with sugar tongs. Suggestions to: Creativity, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary rewards for the best ideas.

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