In Competition No. 3105 you were invited to submit a fragment of commentary on the Women’s World Cup delivered by a figure from the world of fact or fiction, dead or alive. From Joseph Houlihan’s William McGonagall, who chronicles the Scottish team’s defeat at the boots of the Auld Enemy, to R.M. Goddard’s Samuel Beckett — ‘Miss Reilly, a fugue of female feet at frolic, dribbles delicately past the centre forward and passes to the sweeper, then pauses to spit decorously on the greensward…’ — it was a cracking entry. J. Seery and W.J. Webster earn honourable mentions, those printed below take £25 apiece, and woman of the match, D.A. Prince, pockets the bonus fiver.
This is the sort of thing my Aunt Agatha relishes — a healthy draught of mucking in, giving the boot to whatever unfortunate ball strays into her thunderous path. Watching an aunt in full cry, covering the turf like a ravenous hyena at its first sniff of carrion, takes a strong stomach. Seeing two teams of Aunt Agatha replicas makes a chap feel as though Armageddon might wallop us any minute if the referee swallows his whistle and fails to call time. It’s like that Shakespeare play where the future kings line up to Doomsday and our hero thinks gosh! and goes thoughtful for a bit. But after a steadying goblet or two, it’s not so bad. The ball’s taken an inhuman punishing so it’s taken to sheltering in the net until the worst’s over and some charity will scoop it off to a sanctuary for some gentle petting.
D.A. Prince/Bertie Wooster
We are barely a stone’s throw from the Natural Reserve of the Seine Estuary, where lucky birdwatchers may catch a glimpse of Cetti’s warbler, an elusive, skulking bird that is rarely seen. But these lionesses, though not in their natural habitat here on the French coast, are far from skulking.