Lucy Vickery

Spectator competition winners: a postcard from Airstrip One

Spectator competition winners: a postcard from Airstrip One
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In Competition No. 3258, you were invited to submit a postcard sent while on holiday in a well-known fictional destination of your choice.

The enforced concision of postcard--writing sometimes produces little master-pieces. Alongside the clichés and forced jollity, you find lyricism and poignant detail. It’s a shame that people rarely send them these days. So hooray for your dispatchesfrom locations that ranged from H.P. Lovecraft’s Mountains of Madness to KirrinIsland. An honourable mention goes to Susan Firth for her reflections on Ambridge (‘I’m surprised to find how many people have been involved in crimes!’); to Peter Mullen, writing from Nirvana (‘There is not even a boozer where you could crash out of consciousness and take yourself out of yourself, for there is no self to be taken out of’); and to Tracy Davidson’s account of a white-knuckle ride in Jurassic Park (‘Am perfectly safe here at the visitors’ centre while we wait for our flight to arrive… Anyway, must go now. Someone’s at the door…’)

The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £30 each.

So your Mother fancied holidaying at a castle and here we are: Gormenghast! She’s making the best of it, unpretentiously awed by the brooding mélange of architectural styles and ivied quadrangles while I bemoan the absence of informational signage and handrails; small wonder there’s a spate of Gothically tragic fatalities hereabouts. The resident aristocrats, though picturesque, are hopeless: Earl Sepulchrave imagines himself an owl, his wife Gertrude talks only to feline and avian familiars, their daughter Lady Fuschia indulges adolescent tantrums in a distant attic. I tell them they’ll never succeed in Hospitality this way. They don’t listen; even your Mother’s attempts at genteel small talk going for nothing, family and flunkies alike too busy about esoteric rituals even to acknowledge us. Only Steerpike, an admirable youth repeatedly encountered skulking about the corridors, exhibits sufficient drive to modernise. After this holiday, he asserts with maniacal overenthusiasm, we’ll never go anywhere else. 

Adrian Fry
Dear Bunty, The Pevensies are in Narnia 2000. Always Winter: Never Christmas! The snow bunnies with kids love that policy. The powder is chest high and another dump tonight, so dig out your salopettes from the back of the wardrobe and push on through. Our rep Mr Tumnus will meet you under the lamppost at Arrivals and handle the sleigh transfers. Lucy has taken up with a climate change activist who wants global temperatures back to pre-White Witch levels. What these lefties don’t understand is this will decimate the ski industry, and where are the Beavers without their fondue and hot chocolate concessions? Fortunately, I’m a consultant with the administration and getting WW to realise that if she stonewashes her animal-rights record, dismembers Aslan, and puts in some eight-seat express gondolas, this place could be a paradise, like Dubai with glaciers. 

See you soon. xx Edmund. 

Nick MacKinnon
So far we’ve been detained in London by its variety of attractions (which include dodging the Eurasian missiles!), but I’m sure we’ll get to explore more of the island soon. One thing is certain: Airstrip One is culturally different. Even the English language has undergone some changes! 

      No worries, though. Just adopt a ‘when in Rome’ approach. We love the fantastic group activities which are a regular part of social life here: e.g. the ‘Two Minutes Hate’, where we can discharge feelings of rage and betrayal that might spoil our vacation (you have to shout ‘Goldstein!’ otherwise the Thought Police will caution you, but you can be thinking of anybody).  

      We spend most evenings at the Chestnut Tree Café, a funky dive where the clientele is constantly changing. Mysterioso! A limited menu given wartime rationing, but the gin is cheap, so here’s to Big Brother! 

Basil Ransome-Davies
Hi – the only time I dare use that word! After all the scrum’n’squeezing of the journey (when did planes cut head-room?) we’re stretched out enjoying the attention and pampering. Lovely people, can’t do enough for us, and we’re getting used to how long things take, like a team hauling the drinks trolley, or wheeling a plate from the kitchen. At last their idea of ‘small plates’ and ours are starting to align and we’re managing not to call for shorts! When in Lilliput, etc… Only tricky moment was breakfast when they asked how I’d like my boiled egg. Some cultural sensitivity there, possibly, but it’s hardly Brexit, is it? You’d need a magnifying glass to see it! Probably some storm in a tea-cup and, believe me, their tea-cups are teeny. Still, it’s good being somewhere where we’re looked up to and can walk tall, unlike — well, anywhere, really.  

D.A. Prince
Greetings – again! Yep, still living it up, still such a lovely place. A hidden gem in the desert. We checked out a month ago but it seems we’ve been granted an indefinite complimentary extended stay! There’s plenty of room at the hotel, in fact we’re the only guests. Makes for a nice intimate ambience, except the management seem a little, well, weird? Tiffany-twisted, if you ask me. It’s certainly not as described on Tripadvisor. There are some nice quirky boutique touches – the mirrors on the ceiling (if you like that kind of thing…), the mission bell, the dancing in the courtyard, the pink champagne on ice – but will the novelty wear off? We notice there weren’t any post-stay reviews online – maybe ours’ll be the first (when and if we ever get out of here!) This could be heaven or this could be… Be careful what you wish for. 

David Silverman

No. 3261: watch this space

You are invited to submit a poem about the James Webb Telescope. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 3 August.