Click to follow
Readers are deeply divided on the question of whether a snorkel, goggles and a fridge magnet are appropriate gifts for a 17th wedding anniversary. "I cannot fault your choice of gifts," writes Geoffrey Langley, "always assuming they are for a lady with hidden depths, clear vision and a certain magnetism, who is firmly attached to something chilly."

Frank Card, however, says they are far from correct, politically or otherwise: "The goggles and snorkel can be taken to imply that he cannot bear to look at Mrs Hartston any more; and the fridge magnet that she is expected to spend most of her time in the kitchen. Marriages have foundered on the misinterpretation of such subtle signals." He identifies the 17th as the expanded polystyrene anniversary and recommends cheap breast implants.

Mark Walmsley says the 17th is the Gallium Arsenide anniversary, and since that is an important component in solar panels, he suggests a sun- powered electric toothbrush.

Dick Whitfield offers a modern anniversary list beginning: 1: Cling-film; 2: Bath de-scaler; 3: Bin-liners; 4: Dishwasher, and working up through corn-plasters and electric blanket to 30: Zimmer accessories and 40: Incontinence pads. RJ Pickles has pyjamas and nightdress for the first anniversary, and saves Zimmer frames for the 60th.

G Langley's complete list starts with Aluminium, Nylon, Polystyrene, Chipboard and Pyrex, for one to five, PVC comes in at number 14 and a Gold Card at 60.

"The word associated with 17," writes Ann Phillips, "is generally 'sweet'." She recommends, since chocolates or truffles are inadequate, a three-piece suite.

Beginning with the same reasoning, Michael Rubinstein quickly connects to Sweet FA, which could be Fond Advances, Fine Art (a bit costly), Famished Aardvarks or Fridgem Agnets.

Several readers tried to make up 17 from smaller anniversaries. Duncan Bull adds 10 (tin) to 7 (wool) and suggests that, with its myriad sheep and tin reserves Cornwall would make an ideal gift.

Tom Gaunt adds 8 (bronze) to 9 (pot) to produce a spittoon, or 6 (wood), 4 (electrical appliance) and 7 (desk set) to arrive at a wooden electric pen.

Len Clarke sent us an ammonite, after reasoning that, since 17 is between 15 (crystal) and 20 (china), and the pair of crystal glasses (goggles) covers the former, the fridge magnet is clearly a red herring and my wife should swim underwater to China. He recommends Lyme Regis as a compromise, which is where the ammonite came from.

Fiona Cameron has bet her husband pounds 100 they won't get to 17. Who said romance was dead? Prizes to Frank Card, Dick Whitfield, Geoffrey Langley.

Next week, we'll report on the stuff scratched from scratch cards. Meanwhile, we seek uses for goggles, snorkel and a fridge magnet. Ideas should be sent to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Sq, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for the best ideas received by 20 Oct.