Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3584 Set by Margaret Rogers

Robert McCrum wrote in the Observer that Wodehouse never takes the reader "beyond the bedroom door". We asked for a bedroom scene from any great writer who has always kept that door shut.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Well done. £15 to the winners; hon menshes to Will Bellenger, Merrick, Frank Dunnill, Keith Norman, Carolyn Beckingham, Alanna Blake and Peter Lyon; the bottle goes to W J Webster.

Emma Knightley, handsome, clever and rich, draped herself over the washstand with as much dignity as could be gathered from the remains of her shift and an exhausted spirit, and submitted once again to the ministrations of Mr Knightley, who, it now transpired, had far more than three thousand a year and the finest strawberry beds in Surrey to offer her. She now understood, albeit dimly, why the lower orders of Highbury had long referred to him as "Thrice" Knightley.

No wonder her father, sweet, gentle Mr Woodhouse, had begged her not to marry, but neither he nor the libidinous antics of the livestock on the home farm had prepared her for the excesses, the indelicacies of the previous night. Had her dear father really indulged in such extraordinary manoeuvres? The presence of her and her sister Isabella suggested that he had. But surely he had not obliged her revered mother to hang from the canopy of the bed while anointing her with Gentleman's Relish? And surely he would have removed his riding boots?

"I am much obliged to you my dear Emma," said her husband after no inconsiderable time had passed. "Will you take some chocolate to refresh yourself?"

N Syrett

As I toddled over to the bed, Daphne closed her eyes and emitted a low groan. This was music to my ears, I can tell you. According to Nuptial Bliss by Myrtle Bower, which Bingo Little swore was the vade mecum to chaps tottering into matrimony, a certain amount of eye-closing and low moaning was pretty much par for the course in the boudoir. And it also showed how wrong Jeeves had been to take against my purple-spotted pyjamas. He might be the bee's knees in the subfusc department, but he was an absolute non-starter if you wanted to set the female pulses racing.

"What ho, old thing!" I said, sliding between the sheets.

"What ho, Bertie!" she murmured.

There was something of a lull at this point while I weighed up my next move. Myrtle's tome had some jolly interesting line drawings, but they did leave the layman rather feeling his way. It reminded me of the first time I'd tried to tie the Drones Club knot. In fact, I might have been there to this day working out how to pass X over Y, if Daphne hadn't seized me by the ears and delivered the smackeroo to end all smackeroos.

W J Webster

A fetching young chambermaid entered the room. Accustomed as I was to Holmes's amazing powers in the use of disguise, I had to look three times before being certain it was he.

Holmes removed his dress and lit his pipe. "There is villainy afoot here, Watson," he said. "Yesterday Miss Irene Adler and Mr Godfrey Norton were secretly married and went to their hotel. I got myself hired as a chambermaid and hid in a cupboard in the couple's bedroom, observing their activity all night."

He paused, deeply troubled by his experience.

"It was dark; they were beneath the sheets. Yet by an elementary application of the laws of geometry, combined with physiological principles familiar to you, my dear Watson, I deduced the exact sequence of movements."

He sighed. "The problem was to make sense of them. Something was happening here utterly outside the experience of English men and women. I rejected the hypothesis that she was transferring submarine plans from her night-clothes to his. But when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Miss Adler is a foreigner. This was undoubtedly the ritual of one of those socialistic secret societies whose existence blights Bohemia."

Ian Birchall

"My dear Mr Bennet," said his lady as she stood before the looking-glass, "have you not marked the beauty of my new nightgown?"

Mr Bennet replied that he had not.

"But it is most becoming," returned she; "though on such a sultry evening I feel rather hot in it. Can I persuade you to unlace the front for me?"

Mr Bennet made no answer.

"Do you not want to?" cried his wife impatiently.

"You want me to, but I desire I will do no such thing," replied he.

"How can you be so cruel?" responded his wife. "You delight in vexing me. How I suffer! You have no compassion for my poor nerves."

"Depend upon it," said he, exhausted by her prattle, "they can be in no more frayed condition than my own."

"Oh, I understand you perfectly! Were it not for my good friends I am sure I do not know what would become of me!"

Mr Bennet sighed. "You do not begin to comprehend. I find myself rather unwell this evening - I have a headache."

"You should ask advice of Mr Darcy," sobbed Mrs Bennet. "He may allow you some of his little blue pills."

Anne Du Croz

No 3587 Set by Leonora Casement

A reappearance of an oldie: ads for up-to-date children's toys. (Previous winners: "Fascinating booklet Autopsies Are Fun! supplied FREE with every JUNIOR MORTICIAN OUTFIT . . .", "Make your boy municipally conscious by giving him a Bactro model sewage disposal unit . . .") Max 200 words by 15 July.

E-mail: comp@newstatesman.co.uk

This article first appeared in He makes us nice enough for export

1999-07-05