Lucy Vickery presents this week’s Competition
In Competition No. 2698 you were invited to submit a short story that begins, ‘Of course he knew — no man better — that he hadn’t a ghost of a chance, he hadn’t an earthly.’ and ends ‘And Reginald came slowly across the lawn.’ The given words are the first and last sentences of ‘Mr and Mrs Dove’ by Katherine Mansfield, superlative writer of short fiction and object of Virginia Woolf’s envy: ‘I was jealous of her writing — the only writing I have ever been jealous of.’
Chris O’Carroll revisits Mansfield’s story and conjures up a parallel universe in which a semi-emancipated Reggie dreams of putting the symbolic doves to death. His fellow winners, printed below, earn £25 each. The bonus fiver is G.M. Davis’s.
Of course he knew — no man better — that he hadn’t a ghost of a chance, he hadn’t an earthly. Even his thoughts came in archaic clichés. But chin up, he told himself. Steady the Buffs. Samuel Beckett had won the Nobel. Did he go to town on fancy lingo? The thing was, to thine own self be true.
It took Reginald 40 years and many rebuffs, but when Off To The Races was awarded the Literature prize for what the Nobel Committee termed ‘a distinctive, uncompromising retro-rhetoric boldly fashioned to encode the universal enigma of human existence’ he was, as he told the media, ‘quite bucked up’.
It was the first outdoor ceremony as the planet warmed and shrivelled. The eminent assembly sweated politely. The citation was solemnly read. A strong English voice said, ‘Draw it mild, you’ll have me blushing.’ And Reginald came slowly across the lawn.
G M. Davis
Of course he knew — no man better — that he hadn’t a ghost of a chance, he hadn’t an earthly.