In Competition No. 3228, you were invited to provide a well-known extract from adult literature rewritten for inclusion in an anthology of children’s literature.
It was Julie Burchill’s verdict, in this magazine, on Sally Rooney’s latest novel that prompted me to set this task: ‘Her writing is so blank,’ she wrote, ‘that in parts it reads like a children’s starter book — Janet and John Get Naked and Say Stuff About the Pointlessness of Existence.’
One of the many high points in a terrific entry was John MacRitchie’s recasting of Wolf Hall as Francesca Simon might have written it: ‘Horrid Henry wakes up one morning feeling really cross. Weepy Wolsey says he has to be nice to Catty Catherine. Well, he’ll see about that…’
Honourable mentions also go to unlucky losers David Blakey, Isobel Murdoch, Roger Charlton and Brian Murdoch. The winners pocket £25 each.
It was a party; the grown-up sort that doesn’t serve jelly and where the dancing is stiff and soppy at the same time. I was talking to some friends including Barbara Goring, who wasn’t bad for a girl, when Widmerpool, a boy from School I’d never liked, started butting in, boring on about commerce and politics. Before I could administer the Chinese burn he deserved, Barbara, deciding he needed sweetening, sweetened him, tipping a caster of sugar right over his stupid, fat head. Sugar went in his hair, going all gooey as it got commingled with stinky hair gel. Sugar dissolved into his eyes, on his shoulders, down his collar. Widmerpool’s face was a picture. I bet, in 50 years’ time, even if Widmerpool becomes a Lord or the Vice Chancellor of something, everyone there — and quite a few who weren’t — will still chortle in exactly the way he didn’t.