Escaping Xmas

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In Competition No. 2372 you were given 12 Christmassy words and invited to incorporate them, in any order, into a piece of prose that has nothing to do with Christmas. I take my judge’s wig off to you all for the variety of scenarios you managed to conjure up, fisticuffs being the only recurrent one. To make room for seven worthy winners (Brian Braithwaite’s ‘shorty’ is too impressive not to include) I am simply wishing you all a happy New Year with my most benevolent beam. The winners, printed below, get £25 each, and the Cobra Premium beer is Margaret Joy’s.

The two ‘wise men’ were allies in adversity. One was a genuine butler, with the features of a man not unfamiliar with the boxing ring; the other appeared a bit of a card and completely crackers but was in fact amiably stable. These two would sit on a log discussing the shortcomings of the other competitors present, including the journalist. She was the real star, stuffing herself with creepy-crawlies as though she couldn’t wait to gobble them down. It gave the others goose-flesh to watch her, but she rose to every challenge. ‘The programme-makers wanted to give some depth to the programme,’ she asserted with a merry chortle, ‘so naturally they chose me.’

Margaret Joy

Good morning, gentlemen. I will make a brief statement. Questions will have to wait until after today’s meeting between the Chancellor and the wise men of the Bank of England.

Let me state clearly that the Chancellor was not drunk. I have seen the entry in the police station log. He was not even mildly merry. You have, not for the first time, been led on a wild goose chase.

The Chancellor is a bit of a card. The public love him for it. But he is not crackers. He is an outstanding Chancellor — a real heavyweight political star.

The Chancellor, economy and government are not only in stable condition but in robust good health. If anyone is to have the stuffing knocked out of them by this electoral shadow-boxing of tittle-tattle and innuendo, it is not the government but the opposition.

That is all for the present.

Gerald Ellison

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G.M. Davis

It wasn’t quite merry England when we served as electoral observers in one of those barely stable emerging Eastern bloc democracies. After a three-day wait in the local Lubyanka Hilton on a diet of cabbage and vodka and watching endless eulogies for the government candidate, we were vetted, churlishly rubber-stamped and ‘provided’ with poker-faced bodyguards resembling recently retired bouncers or safe-crackers. My companion, the taciturn Boris, thickset, with the physique and ears of a veteran boxing star, gloomily watched the stuffing of the puppet candidate’s ballot box with wads of fraudulent votes. Under Boris’s dispassionate gaze, wise men voted as required or were helpfully offered a new card to complete ‘if they had made an unfortunate error’. However, we were present and the blow-by-blow log we smuggled home, hidden in a turnip sandwich, will hopefully ensure that the puppet candidate’s goose is well and truly cooked.

Shirley Curran

Here I am, ‘doing bird’ as they say, and all for mistakenly thinking I was boxing clever by fiddling the system. Fortunately the other inmates treat me like a star although they lead me a merry dance at times, especially Biffer, C wing’s card, who amuses everyone by stuffing things under my mattress.

Of course, I knew I’d cooked my goose and that it was too late to lock the stable door as soon as I discovered reporters lying in wait outside my apartment. And when they began to present me with allegations which some resentful temp had decided to log down in detail, what could I say? The great and the ‘good’ may be powerful but, as Job observed, great men are not always wise men. So, here I am, a disgraced politician whose future now depends entirely upon what he can learn from swindlers and safe-crackers.

Alan Millard

‘Wise men’? Who does the government think it’s kidding? A goose could do better. They spend months having a merry old time at the taxpayers’ expense, then they present us with the results of their deliberations as if they were the voice of God. ‘For a stable society’, they pontificate, ‘everyone must have an ID card and keep a log of how many times they smack their children’. Just wait, next thing you know they’ll be saying every smoker must wear a yellow star and frequent different establishments from the rest of us. They’re crackers. They’re boxing at air because they can’t think of any constructive way to get us out of the mess they’ve created. Their think-tank is empty.

Boris for PM, I say. That’d knock the stuffing out of them!

Virginia Price Evans

‘Wise men don’t goose the captain’s wife’, I warned in the log. ‘Otherwise the ship is at present quite stable except for the unfortunate case of Mr Bloggs stuffing the cabin boy (a merry card if ever there was one) while he was boxing the compass. Anyway, we follow the star to the Americas and can hardly wait for a fresh supply of victuals, particularly crackers.’

Brian Braithwaite

No. 2375: Acrostic

You are invited to supply an appropriate poem in which the first letters of each line spell out THERE IS NO JUSTICE. Entries to ‘Competition No. 2375’ by 13 January.