In Competition No. 3136 you were invited to submit a lonely hearts ad guaranteed to send those looking for love running in the opposite direction.
This assignment was a nod to the charmingly idiosyncratic personal ads that have appeared over the years in the London Review of Books — ‘They call me Naughty Lola. Run-of-the-mill beardy physicist (M, 46)’; ‘I like my women the way I like my kebab. Found by surprise after a drunken night out and covered in too much tahini’ — which proved such a hit that they’ve been collected in two volumes.
In an entry where the flatulent rubbed dandruff-sprinkled shoulders with the gout-ridden and the unashamedly unwoke, lowlights included Liam Hogan’s ‘Prepper seeks female for propagation of the human race’; Barry Baldwin’s: ‘Looks unimportant apart from filling sweaters nicely; as they say, “You don’t look at the mantelpiece when you’re stoking the fire”’; and, very much in the LRB spirit, Gail White’s ‘Marquise looking for her Valmont... Call me and we’ll go on a pub crawl and then go to the dump and shoot rats’.
Honourable mentions go to Nick Syrett, Dorothy Pope, Mike Cheevers, Fiona Jones and Sandra Potter. The pleasingly varied bunch of charmers below earn £25 apiece.
“Realist WLTM another realist. You’ll be no looker because why would you? I’m not. You’ll prefer cagoules to tuxedos, overcast Wednesdays on Wolverhampton industrial estates to moonlit beach assignations, sharing a head cold to feverish infatuation. If you like the films of Ken Loach, the novels of Stan Barstow and don’t mind bleeding the radiators regularly, we’ll likely grind out our days together without incident. No promises, mind. I’ve plenty to recommend me: own house, own money, own teeth, up to last year. I’ll not remember birthdays, anniversaries or the names and ages of children from former relationships (yours or mine) and I am not a bloody mind reader, so don’t imagine giving me the silent treatment likely to produce a new Dyson: ask and we’ll consider the purchase on merit. Sex: there’ll be some, though it’ll be no better than the national average and properly diarised, as you’d expect.Adrian Fry
“‘Epiphany’. To me it’s a sacred word. ‘Numinous’, too. Or the Tao. Or the light playing on a kitten’s fur. Or the sheer magic of a Diptyque John Galliano Candle, glowing like a reflection of my soul. And as Gwyneth has said, ‘When I pass a flowering zucchini plant in a garden, my heart skips a beat.’ There are many things we find beautiful and elevating but cannot say why. Isn’t true love like that — mysterious, unfathomable? As a very spiritual person I am seeking a relationship that goes beyond our bodily selves. Join me on my journey to completeness.Basil Ransome-Davies
“ I’m new to this, so here goes! Young middle-aged guy seeks 27-ish lady to be his partner in crime. I like going out and I like staying in with a glass of wine and a movie. I like to travel but my home is important to me. I’m equally as comfortable with a girl in jeans and a T-shirt as one in a cocktail dress and heels. I can party all night or just go for a long walk around the park. My life is great, I’m just looking for the right person to share it! Somebody genuine, honest, caring and kind, easygoing and with a GSOH of course. I enjoy a juicy steak but the vegan option is great, too. Perhaps I’m not so good at describing myself, but, when you get to know me.... I should just mention that I’m allergic to most cosmetics. Also cats.Frank Upton
“ Dominant male seeks fit, attractive, strong yet yielding female for fifty shades of erotic adventure. I feel you tingle already in anticipation of my masterful touch. Your first assignment is to tell me in detail why you are a saucy vixen who needs to be tamed and how you know that submitting to a powerful, sternly loving man will help you achieve your true potential as a woman. I will instruct you later regarding what photographs to send and what garments to wear for our first in-person encounter. I am tall, attractive but not oppressively handsome and successful in the world of international finance to an extent that few people can readily imagine. My education and professional experience have equipped me to enjoy the finest things in life, and if you can persuade me that you qualify as one of those finest things, you are on the threshold of ecstasy.Chris O’Carroll
“ Dante seeks Beatrice. Could you be she?Life has sent me too many rejections so you are my last Hope. Poet (m.) seeks youthful/agile Muse (f.) for amusement (!) and pun-abundance(!) along with all the traditional attributes of inspiration and adoration. In return I offer potential immortality. Support my flagging ego when rhymes desert me and I’ll hymn you in forms you’ve never heard of. Be a wicked villanelle to my sensual sestina, a rousing rondeau redoublé to my panting pantoum; in recompense you will have the thrill of being my First Reader, the dedicatee of my whole oeuvre. Let’s tear our pleasures with rough strife through the daily round and common task, meeting the deadlines together. If you bring cartridge-changing and proof-reading skills as well as beauty your place in the pantheon is assured. Follow me in the pursuit of greater glory. Excelsior! (Photo appreciated.)D.A. Prince
“ Dirt poor, impotent man with no employable skills and a horrible sense of humour, hates walks on the beach, snores loudly and abuses alcohol, seeks rich beautiful woman to apply ointment to his pimple rashes and bring him snacks as he sprawls on the sofa hogging the remote control and watching snuff porn. No fatties.Robert Schechter
No 3139: grave thoughts
You are invited to submit a four-line verse epitaph for a well-known person, living or dead (up to three entries each and please specify). Please email entries to email@example.com by midday on 4 March.