The most popular ideas were udders for pantomime cows, waterproofing for reindeer antlers and bottle-feeding for quintuplets. Harold Stone, however, points out their useful social function, when worn at a dinner party with fingers cut off to identify the wearer, in discrete manner, as a non- volunteer for washing up.
"Rubber gloves," says Dorothy Budden, "would be useful for rubber bridge players with vulnerable hands."
"It's a well-known fact," claims Len Clarke, "that tentacly challenged octopi use them to keep their pentacles dry when it's raining." He also mentions that cod-fish use them to keep their fish fingers warm.
AJ Brewer develops the octopoid theme, pointing out that the relationship between a rubber glove and an octopus is almost identical to that between a kilometre and a mile. He therefore proposes that the rubber glove be adopted as the standard metric octopus. He also says that they (rubber gloves, not octopodes), may be conveniently sliced to produce 120 large rubber bands and about 200 small bands each.
"Shrewd farmers," says Philip Jaggard, "cultivate their local hospital with eggs and milk in return for rubber gloves. In winter they are slipped over cows' teats to prevent frostbite and discourage badgers."
More ideas: hung from trees and shrubs in a variety of colours to brighten up garden or park, or as a purse to keep small change separate (Pauline Fleming); raincoat for bagpipes, or boil-in-the-bag packaging for root fennel (E Duncombe); pegged in rows on washing lines as post- technological computing device (Martin Brown); ready-to-wear instant disposable accessories for convicted thieves in fundamentalist Islamic justice system (David Daly); inflated, with elastic attached, for the ultimate in uplift bras (Susan Gidden); for playing instruments in rubber bands (RJ Pickles); inflate, stick on back of tortoise and cast as stegosaurus in home video remake of Jurassic Park (Mark Walmsley); for storing gold rings on fifth day of Christmas or safely mixing Christmas cake containing electric currants (Stuart Cooper), rubber-glove novelty brassieres (Sian Cole).
Since left-handed rubber gloves last longer than right-handed ones, Maurice Hulks informs us of the great demand for left-handed surgeons at cash- strapped hospitals. He adds a seasonal tip: give your old rubber gloves to Cinderella and her godmother may give you a rubber ball for Christmas.
Michael Rubinstein sees rubber gloves as useful in sanitising rude gestures in genteel company.
A rubber glove, inflated, to give a big hand to all contributors. Prizes to Harold Stone, E Duncombe, Dorothy Budden. Next week, clouds. In the meantime, we are looking for things to do with a mad cow. Ideas to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL.
The three we like best will win Chambers Combined Dictionary Thesaurus prizes.