Problem child

22 November 2014

9:00 AM

22 November 2014

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 2874 you were invited to submit a scene written by a well-known children’s author of the past in which a character grapples with a 21st-century problem.

Pamela Dow reimagines Louisa May Alcott’s girls posting selfies and practising mindfulness, while Harriet Elvin’s Eeyore longs for someone to invent antisocial media and Adrian Fry provides a thoroughly 21st-century exchange between William and Violet-Elizabeth Bott: ‘“William thexted me. And I thexted him. We’re going to thext and thext until we’re…” “Thick.” William concluded, self-pityingly.’ Commendations to Paul Wheeler for his portrait of Paddington Bear falling foul of immigration and to Josh Ekroy. The bonus fiver goes to G.M. Davis’s ‘Jabberwocky’ reworked for the digital age. The rest get £30.

’Twas cleggy and the cybertrolls
Did snark and gribble on the Web.
All memish were the twittermoles
For any zedlist sleb.
‘Beware the Googleweb, my son!
The links that lure, the whorgled word!
Eschew the Candycrush, and shun
The slavid MadBid bird!
Avoid the pornucopia where
The prunts and pantinudes at play
Display their publes, free as air,
And fricticate all day!’
He took his snafrous mouse in hand;
‘Click-clack’ went he, confining thus
The googlet’s algorithmic band
To the salubrious.
G.M. Davis
‘Hurry up!’ cried Dick.

‘I’m just finishing the Risk Management Plan,’ replied Anne.

‘But it’s only a picnic on the beach!’ said Julian.

‘It’s still an “event for four or more persons on Council-controlled land”. We might get audited by Health and Safety,’ said Anne. ‘Let’s see: emergency contact numbers, first aid kit, copies of Timmy’s inoculation certificates…’

‘Do get a move on,’ begged Dick. ‘I’m dying for those egg sandwiches and ginger beer!’

‘Sorry, they didn’t meet Council’s food safety requirements,’ replied Anne. ‘Egg products are high-risk because of possible food poisoning, and soft drinks fail the obesity guidelines. We’ll just have to make do with organic crispbread and water.’

‘At least we can explore that cave I spotted last time,’ said George.

‘I’m afraid that’s a “dangerous activity” needing adult supervision,’ explained Anne.

‘Do you remember,’ said Julian sadly, ‘when we just used to have adventures?’
Harriet Elvin
Once upon a time there was a very chatty caterpillar.

On Monday, he sent a text, but he still felt chatty.

On Tuesday, he sent two emails.

On Wednesday, he made three tweets.

On Friday, he posted four selfies.

On Saturday, he edited five wikis, but he still felt chatty.

So he uploaded his profile to social media, started a mini-blog on Tumblr, began vlogging strenuously, trolled several chat forums and posted revenge porn against the blackbird that tried to eat him. But he STILL FELT CHATTY.

So finally he set up a children’s website complete with games, blogs, videos, chatrooms and competitions, with lovely interactive video graphics and high-end kiddie-oriented advertising.

After that he had a nasty headache and slept for several days.

When he woke up he found that he had turned into a beautiful media personality!
Frank Upton
Nothing could be pleasanter on an autumn morning, Mole reflected, than sitting cosily in your boat’s snug cabin, flipping through your iPad to see what was trending. It was also very nice to hear your civil partner clumping about busily, doing important boaty things. Suddenly Mole gasped.

‘What’s up, Moley?’ asked Rat.

Mole turned the tablet towards him, displaying Mr Toad’s latest selfie. Toad wore nothing but a broad grin and a ‘This is what a feminist looks like’ T-shirt. The garment failed to cover his considerable excitement.

‘If the stoats are tweeting this, it means trouble,’ said Rat. ‘We must speak to Badger.’

As soon as Mole had made sandwiches for the journey, the pair set off. They were soon knocking at their old friend’s front door. There was no answer, but a passing rabbit called out cheerfully: ‘No good knocking there, mateys. He’s been culled.’
George Simmers
The drone overhead was unmistakable. ‘Gerry’s in the air,’ thought Biggles, ‘and I need to get a kite double-quick.’ Spotting an airfield called ‘Heath Row’, Biggles swung towards a giant, ugly hangar, screeched to a halt and dashed inside.

Following a sign for ‘Flights’, he bounded up the stairs but, strangely, found himself in a giant perfume shop. Then a retina scan. ‘But my eyesight’s perfect!’ he exclaimed.

‘Any sharp objects in your pockets, sir?’ asked the official.

‘Just a pocket knife and my Webley .45 revolver,’ Biggles replied. ‘Now please hurry, I need to get up there and blow them out of the sky!’

In an instant, Biggles was slammed to the floor by a burly guard. A policeman arrived, out of breath. ‘Ah,’ thought Biggles, ‘an honest Bobby, he’ll sort out this mess.’

‘Abandoned car at the front of the terminal,’ called the policeman. ‘Everybody clear the area, now.’

‘Don’t worry,’ said Biggles cheerfully. ‘It’s mine!’
Aidan Dowling


No 2877: seasons greetings

You are invited to submit a Christmas round robin as it might have been written by a well-known fictional character (150 words max. and please specify). Email entries to by midday on 28 November. The early deadline is because of our seasonal production schedule.


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