In Competition No. 2369 you were invited to submit extracts from an imaginary diary during a period of civil convulsion and anarchy in this country.
Though I was thinking of future disturbances, I was quite willing to accept historic diaries and was pleased to get reports of unrest in the days of Boudicca, in King Stephen’s reign, and after the battle of Worcester. Moving to today, several of you concentrated on the animal rights brigade, who were busy freeing beasts from zoos, tearing down ‘Fox and Hounds’ and kindred inn signs and disrupting equestrian events. All in all, the chaos was delightful. The prizewinners, printed below, get £25 each, and the Cobra Premium beer stays here because Michael Cregan says he doesn’t drink.
Monday: Postman sprayed hall with machine-gun through letterbox, then left letter with cry of ‘For you, neo-communist swine!’ Letter announced, You will die soon, infidel pig!
Tuesday: Chased into field by hunt saboteurs; chased out again by hunt supporters. Took refuge in a church, where stabbed by Satanists on spying mission.
Friday: In hospital, but couldn’t have operation as travellers have moved into the operating theatre and boarded up doors. Home in ambulance, passing with difficulty through roadblock manned by joint IRA/UDF force.
Saturday: Stayed in bed. Had to; animal rights group tied me up while they liberated my pet budgie.
Sunday: Sunday abolished by Atheists Against the Sabbath movement. So what bloody day is today?
19 Aug: Toothpaste finally ran out. Tried substitute recipe from Internet. Disgusting.
20 Aug: Internet continues working, oddly. Also Classic FM, though mostly choral or country music.
21 Aug: Janet found some raspberries. Thinks no one saw her. Raspberries still OK, theologically?
22 Aug: Used last sugar for raspberries. Slogan appeared on garden wall. Strange that people who can spell ‘apostasy’ now use spray cans. Dawkins spotted in Norway.
23 Aug: Signs that Archbishop Eustace is losing control of radical supporters. London’s Grand Mufti calls for calm.
24 Aug: Last disposable razor inoperative. Decide good idea to grow beard.
25 Aug: •(New Moon) Predicted Apocalypse fails to occur. Banks re-open in afternoon. Laws against usury suspended.
26 Aug: Go to church. Gorgeous weather, so lack of roof no inconvenience. Discover source of toothpaste.
18 Nov: There’s nothing like a total power failure to make one regret buying a 12th-floor penthouse. But it does at least keep us away from the street-fighting between the fundamentalists. Today Giles took to the roof garden and yelled down, ‘A plague on both your fundaments — and may it be boils!’ But I don’t suppose anyone heard.
9 Dec: Poor Giles returned exhausted from one of his hunter-gatherer trips to the Waitrose storeroom. Apparently, as well as fundies cudgelling each other there are now wild animals everywhere after the ALF let them out of the zoo. Still, he did get some artichoke hearts in wine vinegar. Must look up Delia.
23 Jan: Last candle guttered out, so bang goes heat and cooking. Are rubber plants edible? Do miss Google. Sewing govt pamphlets into clothes for insulation. Dreamt — I think — about wolves howling outside the door.
Monday: Houses of Parliament dynamited after Brown’s seizure of pension funds — tremendous bang — racket and commotion putting cat completely off his food. Scared stiff they’ll burst into lounge any second and still haven’t hung new curtains. Burned the toast. Territorials mobilised.
Wednesday: Martial law declared. PM threatened to conscript rail workers — hope he waits until after pensioners’ Brighton trip. Cat still distressed. Burned toast again — must be nerves. Stock up on spam and corned beef? Daren’t go to supermarket with bodies in the streets. Hear there’s a run on candles — consult Mrs Beeton for candle recipe — electricity bound to be cut.
Tuesday: No electricity for six days now. Home-made candles set fire to new curtains — cat safe. Reports of American troops landing — looked for Union Jack in loft but moths got it. Put coronation mug in window instead. Started digging for victory, but spade handle broke.
April 23: Little cause for national celebration on St George’s Day. The situation is volatile, but from all reports the Norfolk Islamic Republic has formed an expedient alliance with the Hampshire Trotskyites. We can expect a two-pronged attack on London.
April 24: Rumours abound as we await the invasion. Some claim that Blair is still alive, either hiding out in one of the wrecked Tube stations or leading an army of volunteers to relieve the capital. Who knows? But the transmitted images of Straw and Blunkett being lynched look authentic.
April 25: Some sporadic gunfire this morning from the direction of the City, but apparently it was only the Capitalist Running Dogs and Stalin’s Schizoid Daughters wiping each other out. These splinter groups are more a nuisance than a threat.
April 26: To Brent Cross for a spot of recreational looting. God knows, one has to maintain morale somehow.
Advent Sunday: New fences aren’t holding. Another pack of starving hounds got in this morning. Terrible mess, but at least they dispose of our refuse. Glad the kids were away. We never liked next-door’s cats but what an unpleasant end!
5 December: Monthly delivery from Tesco. Marvellous how they’re managing to keep bunker depots operating and send armoured vans out under armed guard. Bev donned bullet-proof suit and manned gate with shotgun while delivery cart rolled in. No shooting this time. Wonderful having dried milk again. And corned beef.
24 December: Church gutted in arson attack. Still no petrol. Government and King having decamped to secret destinations, Mother’s finally persuaded to abandon London, arriving from helipad on horseback, courtesy of Frank from Home Farm. Situation daily getting more Wild Westish. We’re not reduced to bows and arrows, but vigilantes captured two lads with crossbows near hospital barricades yesterday. Druggies now desperate.
No. 2372: Escaping Christmas
You are invited to incorporate, in any order, the following Christmassy words into a piece of prose that has nothing to do with Christmas: wise men, crackers, card, present, boxing, star, stable, log, stuffing, wait, goose, merry. Please underline the words. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2372’ by 16 December.