In Competition No. 3228, you were invited to provide a well-known extract from adult literature rewritten for inclusion in an anthology of children’s literature.
It was Julie Burchill’s verdict, in this magazine, on Sally Rooney’s latest novel that prompted me to set this task: ‘Her writing is so blank,’ she wrote, ‘that in parts it reads like a children’s starter book — Janet and John Get Naked and Say Stuff About the Pointlessness of Existence.’
One of the many high points in a terrific entry was John MacRitchie’s recasting of Wolf Hall as Francesca Simon might have written it: ‘Horrid Henry wakes up one morning feeling really cross. Weepy Wolsey says he has to be nice to Catty Catherine. Well, he’ll see about that…’
Honourable mentions also go to unlucky losers David Blakey, Isobel Murdoch, Roger Charlton and Brian Murdoch. The winners pocket £25 each.
It was a party; the grown-up sort that doesn’t serve jelly and where the dancing is stiff and soppy at the same time. I was talking to some friends including Barbara Goring, who wasn’t bad for a girl, when Widmerpool, a boy from School I’d never liked, started butting in, boring on about commerce and politics. Before I could administer the Chinese burn he deserved, Barbara, deciding he needed sweetening, sweetened him, tipping a caster of sugar right over his stupid, fat head. Sugar went in his hair, going all gooey as it got commingled with stinky hair gel. Sugar dissolved into his eyes, on his shoulders, down his collar. Widmerpool’s face was a picture. I bet, in 50 years’ time, even if Widmerpool becomes a Lord or the Vice Chancellor of something, everyone there — and quite a few who weren’t — will still chortle in exactly the way he didn’t.
Adrian Fry/A Buyer’s Market
Goldfinger took the ginger cat from under his arm and threw it to Oddjob, saying: ‘I am tired of this animal. You may have it for dinner.’
He was only joking, of course! But what a nasty joke. Of course the poor Korean would never eat a cat. But how could he explain that, with his cleft palate making it impossible for him to be understood? It was just as well that despite this and such cruel treatment by his master he was differently abled. He did martial arts brilliantly! He gave a demonstration on the spot and Bond laid down his Country Life to watch.
He was impressed. It was clear it wouldn’t do to get on Oddjob’s wrong side. But Bond didn’t worry. Eventually all the problems would be solved and he could be at home with his mother and a nice cup of tea.
I expect you’ve never been to Egdon Heath, at any rate, not in November. It’s a funny old place, as dark as it’s light, and the opposite too — quite a miserable old heath, I would say. When the sky is still quite light, the ground is already dark. In the early evening, you can feel storms heading in your direction — just by looking at the shadows. These shadows have a habit of joining forces with night itself. It feels as if they’re getting ready for the end of the world.
Those who have once lived there, however, think of it as an old friend. They’re the kind of people who like a bit of misery, frankly — although don’t we all? These days we all prefer to be moody, and to spend our holiday money on a trip to somewhere really mean and icy. Tragic. Which brings me to Eustacia Vye.
Bill Greenwell/The Return of the Native
‘Can’t repeat the past?’ Gatsby cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’
He looked around him wildly, and pressed a button. The room filled with green light. I gasped. Gatsby’s wonderful party house, with its blue lawn and bubbly drinks, was a time machine!
‘I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before, Nick,’ he said, beaming like a magician in his gold shirt. ‘You’ll see.’
He talked a lot about the past, about Daisy, who was beautiful and rich, with a voice as golden as money, but married to the despicable Tom. If Gatsby could return to the right starting place, he said, he could get her back. ‘We’ll repeat one autumn night, five years before,’ he decided, throwing aside a colourful pile of silk shirts. He pushed a lever, and we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Janine Beacham/The Great Gatsby
Little Nell was dead, which was very, very sad. Now of course we all have to die eventually, but you have to understand that Little Nell was something quite out of the ordinary. She was so sweet and lovely, so patient and gentle, with such a truly noble soul that she might have been one of God’s angels. She had suffered — of course, she had suffered — but there was no trace of pain on her tranquil face. She was lying on a little couch, decorated with berries and green leaves and she looked as if she were quietly sleeping, instead of being dead. Yes, quite dead. By her side was a cage containing her pet bird: a poor, slight thing, he was hopping around tweeting, not knowing that the soul of his dear little mistress had already flown away to the Big Nest in the Sky. Goodness, it was sad!
J.C.H. Mounsey/The Old Curiosity Shop
Where’s Spot? Is he in the bog? Is he behind the tor? Look! Spot is shining in the dark. Who is Spot chasing? It is Charles. Funny Spot is playing with Charles. Where’s Charles? He is sleeping on the moor. Go home Spot! Who is on the train? It is John. Can John find Spot? No! Who is hiding in the little house? It is Sherlock! He knows where Spot is. Where are Sherlock and John? They are in the fog. Here comes Spot. Woof! Woof! What has Spot found? It is Henry’s smelly boot. Spot wants to play with Henry. Look at Spot’s glowing eyes. What has Sherlock got in his pocket? Is it a biscuit? Bang! It is not a biscuit. Is it a ball? Bang! It is not a ball. Bang! Bang! Bang! Where’s Spot? He is living on a farm.
Nick MacKinnon/The Hound of the Baskervilles
No. 3231: vindalism
You are invited to provide an example of pretentious wine-writing. Please email your entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 5 January.
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