In Competition No. 2897 you were asked for a job application by a well-known writer, living or dead. Inspiration for this comp came from a young Hunter S. Thompson’s characteristically unorthodox pitch for a position at the Vancouver Sun. An unflattering portrait of his relationship with a previous employer — ‘The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him’ — is followed by an attack on journalists en masse, who are, he says, ‘dullards, bums, and hacks …stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity’. The godfather of gonzo didn’t get the job.
Commendations to Peter Goulding, R.M. Goddard and Josh Ekroy. The winners take £25. Alan Millard pockets the extra fiver.
Dear Sir, with pleasure I apply
To be a keeper at your zoo,
Of creatures none knows more than I
Nor so deserves an interview.
I know the chimp is not a chump,
And why a trogon never trots
And how the camel got its hump
And why the leopard grew its spots.
I know how rhinos got their skin,
Why kangaroos such long tails grow,
And all about the origin
Of what made animals ‘just so’.
There’s not a beast I don’t adore
Nor any creature that I hate,
Oh please employ me I implore,
You’ll find no finer candidate.
Alan Millard/Rudyard Kipling
Hwaet! I, who before put Beowulf in book,
Here privily pursue the princely post,
Tesco’s command, that company’s kingship.
Much craft is mine in management of men.
Strict shall be my strategic structuring —
When I axe men I mean no metaphor;
No pension-pots are paid posthumously,
And cruel cuts carve away costs.
Reclaim we must our might in the marketplace,
Full well I know how to nurse this need.
We shall wage war with warrior bands,
For those who love us loyalty have sworn,
Ravage and raze all rival stores,
Cast them to earth, but keep their customers,
The ranks reward with riches two-for-one,
Thus shall we gain gold and great glory.
Brian Murdoch/The Beowulf-poet
Let me state at the outset that I have no hope of being appointed to the post. This is not mock-modesty on my part: I know my qualifications are outstanding. The application, which I shall have printed and circulated, is simply an opportunity to draw attention to the absurdity of your notion of a professor of English literature. I dont apologize for recurring to my well-known views on those who can and those who cant. Whilst I concede that until there is universal self-education teachers have to be tolerated, what is your Professor of English Literature to teach? Professors of physics, say, are physicists. They are practised in their science to a high degree. But your Professor will have contributed nothing to his art. He will merely have animadverted on the artistic achievements of others. My own tremendous work in the theatre would count for nothing in your consideration of my application. Well, …
W.J. Webster/George Bernard Shaw
Sir, You require a Telesales Agent. I may suit that purpose. My words are few though heavy freighted, for I have lived, if any man has, a life. I am come out of the West, behind me the bones of my forebears and the child I was, whom even the waters of the clearest creek care no longer to reflect. Wonders and terrors various have I known in my sundry traversals of the wide plain; I have witnessed the queer hysteria of horses in hailstorms, hearkened to the existential hollerings of the miscarrying she-wolf, known loneliness so intense the chatter of my own teeth struck convivial. Of Telesales, I know nothing. But I have known the rough chafe of company, broken bread with men and shot them, too. I have my own gun and a mind sufficient cold to master the arcane philosophies of your payment protection insurance.
Adrian Fry/Cormac McCarthy
It little profits that a laureate
Grown old in shaping verses for a queen
Whose grumpiness is famed through all her realm
Should sit and idly rhyme, or waste long days
Being lionised by those who mostly say
They on the whole preferred the earlier work.
My soul is restless for a fitter task,
And one connected to the boundless seas.
Therefore let me, at your fish servery,
Bend all my efforts to the bubbling vat.
Make me your partner when th’alchemic art
Transforms base batter to a golden case
For cod or plaice (or haddock if preferred)
I promise this: undauntedly to face
On Friday night that ever-burgeoning queue,
To fry, to serve, and not to stint on chips.
I beg to propose myself for the position of what the Grub Street vulgarians are pleased to dub ‘Agony Aunt’. Although a man cannot fairly adjudge his own merits, he may be permitted to advertise his achievements. Having surveyed the globe from China to Peru, my mind comprehends the whole mass of humanity, whilst, transported from Lichfield (Salve, Magne Parens!) to the metropolis, I have shifted in society from His Majesty The King to the drabs of the Strand. In my own house there reside a troupe of women whose resentments I am daily called upon to arbitrate. Such quotidian tribulations, I avow, would stand me in good stead to lead those oppressed by their lot to a steadier mode of life, gaining strength from our Christian faith and immune to the temptations insinuated by Papists and Whigs, as can testify a young Scotch Man who records my every counsel.
Barry Baldwin/Samuel Johnson
No. 2900: SAUCE MATERIAL
Richard Brautigan fulfilled his ambition to write a book that ends with the word ‘mayonnaise’ with his novel Trout Fishing in America. You are invited to write a short story, the final word of which is a condiment of your choice. Please mail entries of up to 150 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 27 May.
You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10