In Competition No. 2877 you were invited to submit a Christmas round robin as it might have been written by a well-known fictional character. Most of the entries were bursting with forced jocularity, but Basil Ransome-Davies, with an unusually frank Jeeves, neatly subverts the round-robin tradition of presenting a relentlessly positive face to the world. Meanwhile, John Samson’s Phileas Fogg takes holiday bragging to a whole new level, thereby earning the festive fiver. His fellow winners take £25. Happy Christmas, one and all!
Where have all the days gone? I know where 80 went! But lost count of number of ships, trains and wind-powered sledges(!) I’ve taken this year. Fabulous world tour. All in less than three months. A record? You bet! Staff change at Fogg Towers saw the arrival of Passepartout. So very proud of his achievements in French. He’s such a practical joker. Pretended to be a corpse on a funeral pyre in India then sat up! Natives fled terrified, while I ran off with (big news alert!) the future Mrs F. Yes, Aouda and I married a day earlier than we thought. For Best Man it was a delicate choice between faithful P and a Mr Fix who followed us everywhere. No honeymoon planned. How could we top being mobbed by native Americans? Or should that be topped by a mob! Anyway, burnt our boat rather getting home in time.
The twelvemonth approaching expiration affords us multifarious causes for reflexion. One blessing undiluted has been the constancy of my dear wife and helpmeet. Mrs Micawber, never entirely free from the oppressions of uncertain health, has been assiduous in her devotions at the domestic altar. Beneath her sheltering wing our offspring have flourished ‘as the green bay tree’. Master Wilkins has embellished his gift for vocal melody while Miss Emma has been daily transforming into the very impress of her mother’s virtues. The twins, with the clout of infancy cast off, have thriven mightily.
I myself have had but fitful success in turning my talents to pecuniary advantage. Some obstacles have been surmounted, others have borne me down, there has been shining hope and dark disappointment — in short, I have been subject to the vicissitudes of the human lot but I remain trustful that something will turn up.
A banner year for your pal Nick on the amateur theatricals front. Our band of six actually got invited to act a play at — wait for it — the Duke’s palace! We were his wedding-feast entertainment, no less! A shout-out to Peter Quince for his script from an ancient, tragic love story. (I’m sure Pete agrees that I sexed it up to good effect) and to promising newcomer Frankie Flute, who should be in no hurry for whiskers to roughen his cheeks and kibosh the downy ingénue roles. We got an extra large audience when two young couples joined the wedding party at the last minute — gentry who were mixed up with some kinky shenanigans in the woods outside town the night before the official festivities. Even your humble leading man did some, ahem, extreme partying under the open sky, where many appeared to be under the influence.
You must excuse my addressing you collectively with what is in effect a circular, normally the preferred missive of tradesmen, but as you will learn it has been a tempestuous year. To put it mildly, my patience and goodwill have been stretched almost to the limit.
While my employer is a mental defective and allowances must be made, in the past 12 months he has managed to engage himself to four different young ladies, meaning I had the task of disengaging him by backstairs intrigue. Then: the aunts. He irritates them and they terrify him. Instead of leaving well alone he enters into troublesome complications with them. More work for Jeeves. (I hardly dare mention the occasions on which I have had to correct his dress sense.)
Thus a strenuous year has passed, and I muse on Confucianism while sedating my employer with gin slings.
Yours as ever, Reginald
Haven’t you said it is a Seized On, haven’t you? An Infested Seized On? There is no rounder robbing, than I shall here provide, by the sweat of my own brow. I puts this in your Christmas card — it shall brighten your day. I puts this afore you, Friends And Acquittances — to draw your tears. I puts this afore you, dear Relativities — it shall make you laugh. I am an honest man, my Lords and Ladies, I am, and where better than this most rounder of robbings, to publish the Facts. I gives them straight. Has not my daughter a-gained her GSCEs in Water Management? I am not honest elsewise — which I am, by the very perspiration that hangs from my capital affrontage, that being the browish abutment. Has not this humble soul a-gained his Stiff-gate in Lock Control? Nat’rally I has. I warn’t about keep it under my bushel!
Clov has worked wonders settling my parents in with us at the refuge. So much better than a care home (cheaper, too!) they’re almost part of the furniture now! Nagg — that’s Dad, folks — likes nothing better than telling a joke over a biscuit of an evening while Nell — Mam — has become quite the connoisseur of the silence encroaching deafness brings. Clov and I bicker as contentedly as ever; the only decision we agreed on all year being to kill a flea — we’re sticklers for home hygiene! I remain blind and wheelchair-bound, but with nothing on television and nowhere left to go, I just enjoy the home comforts. Clov, meanwhile, can’t sit down for five minutes, in and out of the kitchen as he is. I could tell you so much more about our jolly ménage but, as Nell joked yesterday, nothing is unfunnier than happiness.
No. 2880: hard sell
You are invited to compose a publicity blurb for the bible to sell it to modern audiences. Email entries of up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 7 January.