creativity decline of the Roman hiccup

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Readers have been most generous with advice on what to do with my hiccups. "Hold your breath for 15 minutes," advises WJ Rosengrave. "Drink to horrible excess," says Jonathan Leigh. "Block the ears," offers Donal O'Callaghan, saying he read it in the Lancet. "Drinking a nearly full glass of water from the wrong side with your thumbs stuck in your ears," Anthony Walker insists works every time. "Drink half a glass of Bucks Fizz slowly," Virginia Halfhide prescribes, "then spin round six times and finish it." "Spell it 'hiccoughs' and take a lozenge," says Tony Kelly. While Tom Gaunt suggests: "Hold your nose and drink a glass of water upside down, while parachuting blindfold from 20,000 feet, wearing a copper-lined suit during a thunderstorm."

Well-meaning though these suggestions are, we find them all prepositionally faulted. Perhaps we did not make it clear, but we sought ideas for things to do with hiccups, not for or to hiccups. Jill Phythian clearly got the correct message:

"Attach yourself to the arm of somebody with a heart condition and hiccup in time with their pulse. This will save the NHS money on expensive heart monitoring equipment." Ms Phythian regrets not having hiccups herself and asks if any readers can suggest how she might acquire some.

Tony Haken always sends his to Hicksville, Long Island, where he informs us there is a standing exhibition tracing the development of the hiccup from Colonel Custer to Arnold Schwarzenegger. They are displayed at piano recitals, Quaker meeting and gallery openings and, he says, "some of mine apparently had an interesting effect on the New York City Ballet during a performance of Mother Goose."

Frank Card sees them as a potential energy source: "every hiccup causes the Adam's apple to move, and the phenomenon should therefore be researched as a source of renewable 'baccup' energy which will never 'paccup'. The benefits 'staccup' quite nicely and you could 'piccup' a useful financial benefit." Len Clarke, more directly, suggests running a tube between your hiccupping mouth and the motor mower engine to save petrol. Meg Laing sees them as an auxiliary power source for competitors in the flea-circus para-Olympics.

Martin Brown suggests scattering them around the house as effective alarms and disabling devices. Mollie Caird suggests sprinkling them liberally on breakfast cereal. Snap, crackle and hic. Gabriel Rozenberg advises starting a hiccup collection and aiming for the first hiccup of the year 2000.

Des Waller mentions the great success of Wild Bill Hiccup. Fiona and John Earle classically point out that while men hiccup, women haeccup and aliens hoccup. FG Robinson makes the same point, continuing his declension accusatively to hunc-cups for bodybuilders. More readers suggested recording them, with a backing, to become a one-hic wonder on Top of the Pops.

Enough! We may return to this theme when space permits. Prizes to Jill Phythian, Tony Haken and Frank Card.

Next week we shall explore ideas for the Albert Memorial. Meanwhile, moving on to another historical monument, we seek ideas for things to do with Hampton Court Maze. Amazing ideas should be sent to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Sq, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, to arrive by 11 August. Three Chambers Dictionary prizes await the senders of the ideas we like best.

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