Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3579 Set by June P Langfield

We asked for extracts in the style of the original book with the villain as hero.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Not bad at all, which means there are a lot of hon menshes to get through: Alanna Blake, R J Pickles, Margaret Rogers, Katie Mallett ("Behold, said Satan") and T Griffiths ("I am perusing The Joy of Cooking and contemplating a dish of boiled brains with melted butter, parsley and lemon wedges. What is your opinion of Clinton, Clarice?"). The winners get £15; the bottle goes to Will Bellenger.

He did not struggle with himself - as I did. Confound the mariner! he had journeyed his way to the very centre - to the absolute stockade of uncertainty which I had built. But he was quite sane, I tell you, driven to investigate my temple of unbelief. I had supposedly hacked off heads myself. But his single-minded insistence was sure proof of his dullness. I could imagine - indeed, I did imagine him, perched on a yawl somewhere, droning on to his customers about my philosophy, or its paradox. He would weave a complex yarn, something metaphorical, about my insight - which, you know, would be a perversity on his part, since I had actually settled down as a vegetarian, minding my own business. What if he found my stash of imitation ivory? The ruse of posting the dried heads at the landing stage - garnered at inhuman cost - did not deter him. He had convinced himself, you know, that I was a beast, and then transformed me into a ghoul. When Marlow came, bothersome and absurd, into my orbit, bang went my dream of a corner shop in Keighley, selling pulses and vitamins. (Heart of Darkness)

Will Bellenger

As I reached for my service revolver, Moriarty - for it was he, staggering from those accursed Falls - cried, "Dr Watson! If you have lost a friend, I have lost a patient, try as I would to save him: as I have saved him many times before!"

"Saved him?"

"Yes," panted Moriarty, "he presented to me a case of profound delusional tendency - a world full of crime which he alone could solve. I attempted to provide the means for him therapeutically to act out his fantasies. And so I did."

"The Hound . . . ?" I began.

"Amazing how many of your animal-loving compatriots have a pet they want to be rid of," remarked Moriarty.

"The Adder?"

"A simple advertisement for a snake-charmer produced a dozen . . . "

"But the - the human actors in these dramas?"

"Words well chosen," said Moriarty. "London is full of out-of-work actors - and actresses, alas - willing to earn a crust. They played so many of these scenes for me that I believe they called themselves, jocularly, The Baker Street Regulars. All to no avail. I came here hoping to save him once again, but he struggled a moment with his phantasms, then threw himself from the Falls . . . "

Alyson Nikiteas

"Just as I thought." Goldfinger set aside his frozen daiquiri to open and read the printout Oddjob had brought him. His large head was split by a gloating grin. He noted with special pleasure the security codes on the thick plastic envelope that marked it as a top-secret document.

"Our oh-so-clever Mr Bond is a fraud. He faked his CV to get into the right circles. The stupid British, with their blind worship of class and pedigree, made it easy for him. Listen to this. Born James Major in Dartford, son of a Southern Region ticket collector. Educated at Gravesend Tech. National Service in the Catering Corps. So that's where he picked up his so-called sophistication. Pah!"

Goldfinger threw a marron glace to his Gila monster and picked up the solid gold telephone on the poolside trolley. He dialled with intense, purposeful excitement. When he heard Bond's crisp, confident voice answering, he said, "So, Mr Major! I have been doing some biographical research on you."

"I 'aven't the faintest idea what you mean."

The faltering reply told him everything. In future it would be plain sailing - with 007 not as adversary but as dupe and accomplice.

Basil Ransome-Davies

Mr Jones of the Manor Farm drew himself another glass of beer. He reflected how good it was to be in power and to have his own farm, even though it was a great responsibility. He took a conservative approach to all things.

He knew how misguided animals could be with their farmyard hierarchies and pecking orders. "Animals are the only creatures whose product is directly linked to their consumption," he would say to friends over a pint in The Bull, and his friends would agree, knowing that a well-fed animal commands the best price. Left to themselves, he said, animals would quickly develop silly rivalries and status games - and, over a second pint, he would sometimes recount his dream of how animals had taken over his farm, and the suffering and starvation that ensued when regular slaughtering was abandoned. It always raised a roar of laughter in The Bull when he concluded with his personal credo: All animals are equal - when it comes to the market.

Once, after a pint too many, he thought the pigs might grasp the concept, but he knew that was an idle fancy, as likely as their walking on two legs or wearing clothes.

D A Prince

No 3582 Set by Leonora Casement

The cricket season has not long started. Suddenly there are two gods before which to genuflect. Lord's, Wembley . . . We'd like you to pick any place of sporting worship and tell us about a typical religious "service". Max 200 words by 10 June.

E-mail: comp@newstatesman.co.uk

This article first appeared in Between two mental universes

1999-05-31