How to turn a whatsit into a thingummybob

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The Independent Online
On the subject of widgets, Elizabeth Fox writes: "As they are so small they can easily get into places which you cannot. This means they would be very helpful around the house."

I'm sorry. We've just noticed that her letter is in fact headed "Midgets", not "Widgets". So no prize there, I'm afraid.

"Only an absolute idget, could find any use for a widget," says Luela Palmer.

"A widget," says Paul Clark, "can be combined with a whatsit to make a thingamyjig."

AA Berry suggests wiring a couple together to make a pair of "fun" spectacles which you cannot see through. He says they're ideal for watching Paul Dee. Or, he says, you can fix one on the end of a stick to make a drain cleaner.

"Attach it to a strap and wear it like a watch" (says Harry Karstens). "Put it in a bottle and pour a frothy Scotch," (he continues). "Give it to your dog for him to bite and chew it. Place it in a teapot, let boiling water brew it."

John Donnelly believes they are actually miniature micro-chip transmitters designed to be swallowed to enable surreptitious surveillance of football hooligans.

Jacuzzis for goldfish, says RJ Pickles, who also mentions their use to simulate frothing at the mouth at conscription medicals. Or pepping up urine samples. Or pop one into the cat's dish to provide Espresso milk.

Widgets, says Michael Rubinstein, are the ultimate educational gadget, "to teach children and unimaginative adults to define the almost indescribable".

"They could be used," says Tom Gaunt, "as weights for seven-stone weaklings needing fizzical exercise." Stephen Woodward has a number of definitive definitions:

Oui Jet: The French airline that likes to say "Yes".

Ouijits: Occult pronouncements or predictions made by middle-class hysterics, often under the infuence of tea, iced cakes or other stimulants.

WeeJet: Cheap balsa glider sold in Glasgow in the Fifties, as in "Wah, mammy, ma weejet's chussied awa glayfrich the stuchties."

"Mirror, mirror on the wall, widget's the fairest of them all?" FG Robinson enquires. He also maintains that widgets make excellent substitute gizmos and that a bat, a ball and a widget is all you need for a game of beach cridget. After 36 further uses, however, he finally confesses to not knowing what a widget is.

Nicholas E Gough does know what a widget is, but doesn't know the correct term for a collector of widgets. He'd be grateful for any help.

"As widgets appear to be very successful in producing a head on a can of beer," says Des Waller, "perhaps one could be used to head the government." He refers us to Oscar Wilde's bon mot: "It is better to be ruled by a widget than a cheese and pickle sandwich."

Sian Cole and Suzanne Sophia Smith both, and we trust independently, extol the virtues of a widget as a sexual aid. "Much better than motorway cones or typewriters," says Ms Cole.

"Drop it in a puddle just to see it splash," (Mr Karstens intervenes again). "Roll it in a joint instead of using hash. Pop it up your nostril ..."

And there, mercifully, still 21 and a half lines from the end of Mr K's rhyme, we have run out of space. Prizes of Great Inventions Through History and Great Modern Inventions from the Chambers Compact Reference series will shortly be widgeting their way to AA Berry, FG Robinson and Stephen Woodward.

Next week, we shall be reporting on your ideas for things to do with Scrabble sets. Meanwhile, we seek things to do with filing cabinets. All ideas welcome (by 29 June, please) at Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. The three best entries will win prizes of the Chambers Dictionary of World History.