On the way out

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

In Competition No. 3036 you were invited to provide a resignation letter in the style of a well-known author. I was inspired to set this challenge by the great William Faulkner, who bowed out with panache from his job as University of Mississippi postmaster: ‘I will be damned if I propose to be at the beck and call of every itinerant scoundrel who has two cents to invest in a postage stamp. This, sir, is my resignation.’ Some entries were resignation letters on the part of the author in whose style they were written; others were written by well-known figures in the style of a given author. Given my somewhat woolly brief, either approach was permissible.

There was much wit and cunning invention on display. Commendations go to Richard Corcoran and Michael R. Burch. The winners take £25 each and the bonus fiver belongs to Bill Greenwell’s Anna Soubry channelling Virginia Woolf.
Yes, I think, shuffling my possessions — a string of pearls, a leopard-print scarf, a foghorn — Parliament is full of contradiction. To be independent; to be loyal. And always the glare, the commotion, the blatant intrusion of the cameras: but always we must rise above them, I suppose, to go on. And yet the wickedness, the wickedness runs deep; and how shocking that this blueness oozes out of them and rolls like tides of bile which choke and half-throttle the onlookers. They must cease, must desist, must grind to a halt. For I, Anna Mary Soubry, will otherwise hand in my pass, simply renounce my membership. I feel myself shining a light into the dank, corrupt recesses where he, so thin, so pinched, so cruel, holds sway, he and his charlatans. And I will do it, I think, this instant. It is enough! It is enough!
Bill Greenwell
Armed with the Sword of the Spirit and clad in the Belt of Truth buckled about my waist, undaunted by perils that lay in wait, I strove resolved to ascend the hill that stood before me however steep the way. The burden upon my back I bore with fortitude and patience ever faithful to my calling and my cause. But those I sought to lead betrayed my trust with doubt, hypocrisy and envy. Still unbowed though sorely tried by my enemies, forth I strode determined not to fall. Yet fall I did and rising thereafter, ploughed through the Slough of Despond to the Vale of Humiliation. Thus by my followers thwarted, I now embrace defeat and, with a heavy heart, finally lay my burden down.
Alan Millard
Sir, To yet again play mine unworthy part upon the stage or to exit nevermore to make an entrance, that has been for some time the question. Whether to suffer the phone-fiddling and computer-crunching that blazon the slave-jack office that has been mine or to pack up my accoustrements in a black plastic bag and, so lightly burthened, leave the building and seek sweet content in some more blessed hap.

You will have heard me say how betimes there comes a tide in the affairs of men that need be taken at the flood. Well, the way I see it, the flood has overflowed, the tide is at its heighth and the time is ripe for me no longer to act like that gorbellied cat in the adage but resolvedly to bid you and all my co-leagued fellows forever and forever farewell. Adieu, adieu, adieu!
Yours faithfully,
Ralph Rochester
Dear friends, Conservatives and Brexiteers,
I’ve come to bury Theresa not to praise her;
Nor will I wrong those honourable men
Whose daggers were employed for Britain’s sake.
The noble Corbyn called for me to go
While those I knew as friends sat silently,
And so it is with sadness I submit
And leave the poisoned cup to someone else.
Recall the day when you presented me
With laurel wreaths that I at first declined.
Was this ambition? Surely I displayed
The sense to see a Pyrrhic victory.
Better than I must guard this sceptred Isle
And fight her cause against our friendly foes.
Resigning at your silent invitation
I’ll let some wilier fox assist our nation.
Frank McDonald
Each pilgrim I created was to tell
two tales, but this has proven hard to sell.
The Prioress, who demonised the Jews,
has drawn much castigation for her views.
On top of this, a courtly tale which ends
in wedding bells, your noted bard defends
’gainst those who claim the story’s noble knight
is nowt but an abhorrent, rapist shyte.
The voice of every Middle Ages’ prude
has vilified my Miller for the crude
encounters when a student’s arse gets burned
and quims get kissed by clerics cruelly spurned.
Dear PC-minded, medieval folk,
you’re far too grave! Why can’t you take a joke?
Hear this, from England’s literary lion;
up yours! From rhyming couplets I resign.
Paul Freeman
Dear Howard,
It is with a poignant mingling of regret and relief that I hereby resign my membership of Royal Moulsecombe Golf Club. It has been a privilege to ply brassie and niblick on the finest links in the South. But, alas, my game has disintegrated. Even at its best, you may recall, it was wildly erratic: if I did hit sweetly on the meat, I shouted both ‘Fore!’ and ‘Aft!’ And I spent more hours parting fronds of undergrowth than a botanist in pursuit of a particularly reclusive fritillary. But now I am merely feeble. I foozle without let: the ball dribbles from my driver; I strike air from a perfect lie; I top putts. My partners have gone from amused tolerance to a wincing horror. I sense their fear of contagion.
Enough said. I must make way for a new and worthy member.
Sincerely, Pelham Wodehouse
W.J. Webster


No. 3039: doing words

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the phenomenally successful memoir Eat, Pray, Love. You are invited to choose a well-known figure, past or present (please specify), invent a three-verb title you feel would be appropriate for their memoir, and provide an extract from it of up to 150 words. Please email entries to by midday on 7 March.

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