In Competition No. 2554 you were invited to write an extract from George Orwell’s Twenty Eighty.
One or two entrants queried the seemingly odd choice of year. I arrived at this by following Orwell, who chose 1984 by reversing the last two digits of 1948, the year he completed his book on the Isle of Jura. You treated dystopia with fine gallows humour: in John Griffiths-Colby’s world, coffee was king due to everyone being hooked on caffeine; with Katie Mallett the main industry was measuring household rubbish; while Virginia Price Evans’s children were looked after by robots, with parents caught trying to touch them being branded as perverts. The winners, printed below, get £30 each and the extra fiver goes to Alan Millard for his monstrous Large Lady.
Bryony O’Brien (Jnr.), Vice Controller and Grand Mistress of Treblespeak, scrutinised the documents long since retrieved from the memory hole. ‘No doubt saved by some subversive male,’ she sneered. ‘Thank goodness the species is extinct!’ Bryony, who believed in ‘divide and rule’, was intrigued by the notion of devolution. This Blair chap, whoever he was, had clearly gained more power by appearing to devolve a little. So might she if Large Lady, who’d united the great warring powers of the past into the existing, boringly peaceful Globiana, could be persuaded to agree. Determined to try her luck, Bryony approached the monitor and addressed the revered image, whose reaction was immediate.
‘Devolution? Lessons from the past? You imagine the past has anything to teach me?’ screamed Large Lady. ‘Nonsense! To that I have only one thing to say: You learn if you want to. The Lady’s not for learning!’
Rupert Smith woke up depressed and thumbed the keypad for a packet of Victory Feelgoods, not the most fashionable of cannabis retro-brands but the only ones he would use.