In Competition No. 3233, you were invited to invent a new character for the Mr Men/Little Miss series by Roger Hargreaves and submit an extract from his or her story.
The first character to make an appearance, in 1971, was orange Mr Tickle with his long, wiggly arms. Fifty years on, Mr T.’s overly tactile behaviour has raised an eyebrow or two, earning him comparisons with Harvey Weinstein. Mr Clever, meanwhile, has been denounced as a ‘smug, sexist mansplainer’. Despite the fuss and bother, Roger Hargreaves’s books (written and illustrated by his son Adam since his death) continue to be hugely popular, as was this challenge, which pulled in the punters and saw you on top form. Honourable mentions go to Simon Machin, Kay Bagon and Brian Allgar. The winners, below, pocket £25 each.
“Mr Prickly was very easily offended. He was offended when Little Miss Sunny wished him ‘Good morning!’, because ‘good’ and ‘bad’ were too binary. He was offended when Little Miss Manners called him ‘Sir’, because he might have been transitioning. He was offended when Mr Silly told him a joke, because it was a joke. He was even offended when Mr Hargreaves coloured him purple, because he self-identified as lime green. And, of course, he was absolutely BURSTINGLY offended when Mr Tickle tickled him! Then he was EVEN MORE offended when Mr Rude told him he was a right pain in the bottom. Back home, Mr Prickly wondered whether he really was a pain in the bottom, so he bent over and looked. Then he looked closer and closer, until — POP! He disappeared up his own fundament! And there he remains to this day!Frank Upton
“Mr Pandemic was the most unwelcome guest in Planetville. Everyone groaned when they saw him coming. Whenever he visited, someone got sick! There were coughs and sneezes everywhere. ‘Oops!’ giggled Mr Pandemic. ‘Naughty me.’ Then he met Mr Vaccine. ‘You need to stop this,’ said Mr Vaccine firmly. ‘Ha ha!’ laughed Mr Pandemic. And he put on different disguises. ‘Hello! I’m Mr Delta!’ he told people. Or, ‘I’m Mr Omicron!’ Mr Vaccine had to visit people up to three times, to help them feel less sick. But some people didn’t like Mr Vaccine either. ‘We will simply have to learn to live with Mr Pandemic,’ declared Little Miss Government. ‘Oh dear,’ everyone sighed, and went to the shops to panic buy. They agreed that Mr Pandemic was even worse than Mr Brexiteer and Mr Remainer, who couldn’t be left together in the same room.Janine Beacham
“Little Miss Trust was very fond of her name, mainly because she mistrusted everyone except herself. She loved toasted cheese for breakfast but only British cheese. Foreign ones like Liptauer or Chhurpi were difficult to spell and she didn’t trust overseas cheese makers. Little Miss Trust, always a busy Lizzie, had little trust in her boss, Mr Bluff, who claimed he could do everything but actually did very little. Nor did she trust Mr Nice, his feeble rival, who didn’t trust Mr Bluff and wanted to challenge him but didn’t know how. She mistrusted both, as she did all pompous Mr Men. Anything they could do she could do better, or so she believed. Longing to oust Mr Bluff and replace him she sold her car, bought a tank, climbed up into the turret and, aiming the barrel, trundled towards his refurbished house with mischief in mind.Alan Millard
“Mr Legerdemain was very clever, though he never built or made anything. When he met other Mr Men, he shook hands with them so they would think his hands were just like theirs. But they weren’t. Because as he talked, Mr Legerdemain’s hands became very busy. They might be busy conjuring daffodils from the other Mr Man’s ear. They might be busy removing the other Mr Man’s keys from his pocket. Once, they even managed to unravel one of Mr Bump’s bandages without his noticing. Everyone liked Mr Legerdemain and enjoyed his little tricks, which he almost always took time to explain with a proud smile when he had quite finished. When all the Mr Men were agreed he was friendly and very clever, Mr Legerdemain visited them one by one. He invited them to put all their money into his clever hands. They never saw him or it again.Adrian Fry
“Mr Sorry was always polite and humble. In fact Mr Sorry was the humblest person he knew. Mr Sorry always apologised. For example one day, he broke Little Ms Sorry’s Ming vase. ‘I apologise,’ began Mr Sorry, ‘if people have the impression I was responsible for the broken vase. I understand the rage against me. I wish things had been done differently. I wish the laws of physics, this planet’s gravity and the brittle nature of Chinese porcelain were different. I offer my heartfelt apology for this and any upset caused. But I think what people really want to hear is my record on washing up and taking out the bins.’ Next evening, Mr Sorry received a note. It was a heartfelt apology from Little Ms Sorry: ‘I wish things had been done differently. I’m sorry for any inconvenience caused by my leaving you. Your dinner’s in the dog.’David Silverman
“Mr Sleaze was as good as his name. If there was money to be made, he hurried to his phone and sent secret messages. Mr Sleaze’s house had no front door. It had a very big back door instead. That was where everyone crept with gifts in greasy fingers. Mr Bung, for instance, was always visiting Mr Sleaze.‘Never heard of you,’ laughed Mr Sleaze, but made sure Bung and Co. were first in line for some business. Old Sleazy was forever asked the same question — how come Bung and Co. always won the contracts? ‘Never heard of them,’ said Sleazy, waving his hands about. ‘Excuse me,’ said a little girl, ‘it says Bung on that envelope you’re holding.’ ‘Poppycock! Bilge!’ retorted Mr Sleaze. One day he was found out. ‘Mea maxima culpa,’ said Mr Sleaze, busily sending some WhatsApps. And guess what? He is now Lord Sleaze of Sly.Bill Greenwell
No. 3236: love is...
You are invited to submit a poem that begins ‘O my love is like…’ and continues for up to a further 16 lines. Please email entries to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 9 February.