The latest competition asked for application letters for a job at No. 10 from a fictional character of your choice.
This challenge was inspired by the PM’s chief special adviser Dominic Cummings’s suggestion, in a recruitment ad, that the ideal candidate for one of the positions on offer might resemble ‘weirdos from William Gibson novels like that girl hired by Bigend as a brand “diviner” who feels sick at the sight of Tommy Hilfiger’.
The parade of hopeful candidates, in an entry that was competent if somewhat predictable, included George Smiley, Gregor Samsa, Bertie Wooster and Toad of Toad Hall, all of whom were pipped to the post by the winners below who snaffle £25 each.
Adrian Fry/Holden Caulfield
All resumes are phoney. I could quote you my qualifications, my lousy childhood and all that David Copperfield kind of crap but it wouldn’t mean a thing. I guess you’re pretty sick of phonies in button-down collars who’d sooner lay down the rules than play the game. I never want to end up talking in paragraphs or caring about my pension and all. The way I see it, if a Government man can’t negotiate a pretty smart trade deal with Europe and still have enough spirit left in him for a ride on the carousel, laughing his head off the way my little sister Phoebe sometimes does, he’s lost. This country has plenty of phonies dickering with infographics and all. What it doesn’t have is folks willing to get right out into those fields of rye and actually catch kids before they fall off the goddamn cliffs nearby.
D.A. Prince/Winston Smith
I wish to apply. I am steeped in Doublethink and rejoice in holding two opinions simultaneously and accepting both of them. Thus the viability and unviability of, for example, the HS2 rail line, is normality. It is no more than the fluidity of answers to two plus two or the malleability of Truth in the pursuit of Untruth.
I know the object of Power is Power and that rewriting the Past will write our Future. Now that the Party has the Leader it craves I believe that Power can never slip away, nor should the Oldspeak of the print and broadcast media ever disseminate their oppressive messages again in their failed attempts control the masses. Their former Thoughtcrimes are repulsive to me but soon they will exist only in the mind.
Our Leader exists in the endless present and is always right. I love Big BoJo.
George Simmers/Clarissa Dalloway
Dear Mr Cummings
What a lark, I thought, to work in Whitehall! To leave one’s home on a fresh morning, to share briefly the vitality of the streets, and then to enter, purposefully enter, the dignified doors behind which work is done of such enchanting seriousness. How strange and wonderful it must be to mix with those whose whole existences have been lived breathing that office smell of paper and floor polish. Men like dear Lady Brabourne’s nephew, perhaps. How superior such men are to the mere ebb and flow of things! How practical they are! But I too could be practical. I know that, as one knows things instinctively,without having to think them through. Have I not experience? I have handled cooks, and dealt with German governesses. I am, if need be, a woman of action. On some mornings I go to buy the flowers myself.
If you are so wise, O my brothers, as to select your humble droog Alex for a position of trust and authority in your much admired government, I can assure you beyond all shadow of a doubting thomas that you will felicitate yourself always on your horrorshow knack for spotting leadership talent. Or, indeed, the talent of one who knows well how to respect and serve the leadership brilliance for which you and your adventures in Brexiteering are justly celebrated.
Already in my life have I been a criminal enemy of the state and a helpless victim of government power to crush the individual and trample upon personal freedom. Appy polly loggies on both side and no hard feelings. As truly as the Lovely Ludwig Van is a genius, these experiences outside and inside the system have prepared me to perfection for a career as an agent of the state.
I have learned to make words say what I want them to and I have found there is method in madness and madness in the methods of the world. Royalty holds no terrors for me since I have seen kings and queens at their best and worst. Newly emerged from the blushes of childhood I can bring to the position at Number 10 the interest and wonderment of youth, but I have an old head on young shoulders. I can make sense of topsy-turvy situations and restore order from chaos with my willingness to jump through hoops and explore the most difficult propositions. In your employ I should expect to find a wonderland of opportunity where a heart is a diamond and things are never what they seem. Small as I am a sip of your famed advice will make me a giant.
Hamish Wilson/Uriah Heep
I write, dear sir, with regard to the position of personal assistant advertised by your esteemed and excellent self. I am currently in the employ of Mr Wickfield, for whom I work as an articled clerk. Before chancing upon the situation offered, I was agreeably content to continue in the employ of said Mr Wickfield. I know my station and have ever been thankful for it. However, I marked the specified need for ‘cognitive diversity’ and for a candidature reaching perhaps beyond the narrow groves of academe. In this respect, I may indeed possess the very qualities you seek. There are people enough to tread upon me in my lowly state without my doing outrage to their feelings by possessing learning. In short, kind sir, I won’t provoke my betters with knowledge.
I am available for interview at your convenience.
Your obedient and umble servant,
Your next challenge is to submit a poem entitled ‘Lines on a Young Lady’s Instagram’. Please email entries of up to 16 lines to email@example.com by midday on 26 February. The correct closing date for Competition No 3137 is 19 February, not 13 as incorrectly printed last week.