Spiral staircases (or "helicoidal risertreaders" as Maguy Higgs insists is the correct terminology) brought us a rush of ideas concerning helter-skelters, corkscrews for very large wine bottles or visual aids for explaining the DNA molecule. Mrs K O'Rourke thinks it would make a "lovely DNA double helix for the Cerne Giant. Then everyone would know how he originated." Ms Higgs, however, uses them as filing cabinets for circular letters.
A spiral staircase, says Damien McIver "is what you get when a spin doctor promises you a ladder." He also thinks one might make a good hewel scrape for a tall centipede with muddy shoes, or a board for Bobby Fischer's next alteration of the chess rules. "Do-it-yourself aversion therapy for irritating dogs who chase their tails" suggests Christopher Brant. "A dependable way to get astronauts to the moon without using unreliable rocketry," says John Donnelly.
Anti-clockwise spiral staircases, according to J and M Grisbrooke, are perfect for growing runner beans. Gary Marshall thinks they are helpful for social climbers who need to unwind. "Ring binders for dinosaur fossil records," says Mollie Caird, while Ciarn Ryan reminds us of the old proverb: "Twisted staircases require wicked stepmothers".
Norman Foster suggests neck braces for giraffes, atop hot geysers to create multi-storey showers, or as controlling devices at the centre of tornadoes. John V Smith puts a flashing light on top to create a minimalist lighthouse. John and Fiona Earle put spiral staircases into think tanks "to get good views of circular arguments."
Len Clarke sees them as essential aids for civil servants to move from one department to another "while proudly displaying no fixed orientation that can later be used against them." Ivor Preece says that very small spiral staircases can be used for drilling cavities in elephants' teeth. "Drill out their centres," suggests Edward Duncombe, "and use as springs on which to mount earthquake-proof buildings." Gerry Flanagan points out how useful spiral staircases are for short-skirted secretaries to see the colour of the hats being worn by male executives coming up behind them.
Prizes to: Norman Foster, Mrs K O'Rourke and Damien McIver. Next week, we shall be hitting the back of the net with a batch of original football cliches. Meanwhile, however, we need things to do with ladybirds. Ideas to: Creativity, the Independent, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Chambers Dictionary prizes for the ones we like best.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies