Competition - Win a bottle of Champagne

No 3603 Set by John Crick

We asked you to update a masterful character from fiction as a new man.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Hot news:John O'Byrne's winning neologisms appeared in the Washington Post comp, on 5 November. Congrats. £15 to our winners; the bottle goes to Adrian Fry.

She stepped through the office doorway on legs shorter than the Statue of Liberty, although Marlowe didn't notice that kind of thing any more.

"Do you chase runaway husbands?", she murmured, pulling out a pack of filter tips. He wanted to tell her that the real lady killers came thin, white and smoking. But maybe she'd had it with male authority figures, so he reached over with the lighter.

"I try to empower female clients rather than reinforce female dependency and male domination in traditional patriarchal relationships." It was a struggle using the new lingo.

She frowned. "So, do you chase runaway husbands, or not?"

"Maybe, maybe not. I could be supporting a repressive institution that denies women the ability to fulfil their potential. Remember sister, every guy's a heel underneath." He searched in the desk for the bottle of mineral water, worrying if it was alright to drink it unchilled and if he had patronised her.

Marlowe set the bottle down, but it was too late. All that was left of one more lost client was a wisp of smoke.

"Maybe I shouldn't have called her 'sister'," Marlowe pondered. Life could be tough for guys as well.

Robert Davis

"This," said M, pushing a satellite photograph across the desk, "is the latest available picture of Razbry Pavlova, Russia's top agent."

"She's one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen," said Bond.

"Quite," said M crisply. "I doubt you'll have any difficulty getting close to her."

"I'm not so sure, sir. She might not like me. We might not have anything in common."

"We're talking seduction here, Bond, not long-term commitment!"

"Even so, sir, women nowadays want their men to be interesting, funny, caring. If I'm to seduce her, I need to know what to talk about to her. I mean, does she eat Indian or Chinese? Which Doctor Who did she like? Does she prefer her lager in a tankard or a sleeve glass?"

"It's not the kind of information British Intelligence gathers, Bond," M explained, impatiently. "Your mission is simply to persuade Pavlova to reveal the whereabouts of General Drek. Then you eliminate him."

"So I've to betray her trust and kill a complete stranger? I'm not sure I feel altogether comfortable in that role, sir."

M sighed. "I anticipated as much. Which is why I've persuaded Q to provide you with new gadgets for this mission."

"Oh, brilliant!" grinned Bond, with sudden enthusiasm.

Adrian Fry

"Ah! Jim lad, 'tis almost time for me needle-point."

"Needle-point?" I cried.

"I'm embroiderin' knee-pads . . . for me ol' missus to wear a-swabbin' the decks a the cabin-cruiser she's gettin' ship-shape for me early retirement. Now, young Hawkins," he said, "come you alonga John, an' I'll tell you a tale. 'Twas the year of me big breakdown - just after I'd finished ascribin' The Feng Shui of Foc's'les, an' I rolls into the Liverpool Sea-dogs' Mission, an' there she were. I gived 'er some Blackpool Shag, an' lighted 'er pipe, an' I were surely smitten. I calls 'er Cap'n Beryl, Jim, for Beryl's 'er name."

"Pieces of eight," shrieked his parrot.

"Well may you squawk, Cap'n Flint," says Long John, "for Beryl damn near runged your neck. But, shiver me timbers, she ain't half a good-un at shiatsu massaging me appytation stump! See 'ere, Jim, this golden medallion I allus wears roun' me neck? This 'ere's 'er likeness. Mind, she's a divil for the dubloons, she is. Salts 'em away in some offshore trust. She'd proper keel-haul me, do I didn't hand 'em over sharpish. 'Pipe you down, John,' she'd say, 'or I'll slap you about a bit.'"

Anne Du Croz

"Main the mist-hads! Hand all calls!"

Ahab was all confused and tongue-tied, as sniffing in the sea air, he sensed that it must be near.

"Man the hast-meads! Cull all hinds!"

Oh, it was no use, the butterflies in his tummy were wildly fluttering. All sail being set, he soft cried: "There she blows! A hump like a big dollop of ice-cream! Who would want to kill a beautiful marine mammal such as this?"

The men silently waited on deck for his orders: to harpoon the whale they had so long been pursuing. Their blood was up. They saw the entire dazzling hump, dancing in the sea as if it were a white bull of Neptune; and like some big canopy raising from the ocean, the taped message on its back read: LAST OF ITS KIND. PRESERVED SPECIES. Ahab clung to the rigging like a child to a bed-post.

"I can't . . . I can't murder one of God's beautiful species, especially one that is so endangered," he sobbed.

And thus it came to pass that Ahab adopted Moby Dick, both dwelling on a far-off tropical island. He had lost his ship after the crew mutinied in disgust. But ex-Captain Ahab was happy; he had discovered a wonderful green peace. But the exhausted whale experienced the daily terrors of the excursions by hideous children and their wretched parents to the White Whale Theme Park.

John O'Byrne

No 3606 Set by Margaret Rogers

We haven't had a nice bit o' poetry for a while. How about 16 lines max on the Internet. By 25 November, please.


This article first appeared in the 15 November 1999 issue of the New Statesman, Guns and the Dome