James Young

Competition | 16 August 2008

James Young presents the latest competition

In Competition No. 2557 you were invited to write a poem or a piece of prose with each line or sentence beginning with the letters A S D F G H J K L Z X C V B N M in that order.

I discovered while setting this comp that the longest word you can type using just the QWERTY row of letters on a typewriter is … ‘typewriter’. No doubt one or two of you will prove me wrong; indeed, there is an even longer word if you allow ‘tripewriter’….  Anyway, where was I? The less tripe I write, the more space there is to showcase your wit and wisdom. In a big and varied entry, commendations go to Adrian Fry for his Laurie Lee, anti-gardening Alan Millard and Basil Ransome-Davies’s Rimbaud. I especially liked the brace of Coleridges; they and the others printed below win £25 while the extra fiver is W.J. Webster’s.

‘As I thought,’ he said, sliding a bony forefinger under the letters. ‘See the pattern here, Watson, where an alphabetical sequence breaks in. Does that not suggest something to you?’
‘Frankly, Holmes, I remain baffled. Good heavens, man, I am no linguist. How am I supposed to interpret such a jumble?’
‘Jumble is not le mot juste, my dear fellow. Knowledge, even the most elementary knowledge, of your language should tell you that. Look how the letters run.’
‘Zigzag would be a better word to my mind,’ I answered, with some asperity. Ximenes would be a gentler inquisitor than my friend in this mood. ‘Can you not simply give me your solution?’
‘Very well. But you will be disappointed with yourself.’
‘No doubt!’
‘May I propose, then, that you consult any typewritist of your acquaintance?’
W.J. Webster






After an absence that kept the world guessing,
Serbia’s criminal’s placed in detention,
Dressed as at Glasto (‘a dinar a blessing’) —
Furry as freaks at a hippy convention.


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