Competition - Win a bottle of champagne

No 3681 Set by Gavin Ross

Tony Blair decided to "come out" about needing glasses after misreading "teenagers" as "teachers". We want other famous speeches/texts that when misread might have changed history.

Report by Ms de Meaner

What a range. Some sent in long lists, others a single one-liner. Then we had the excellent John Samson, who wrote chapter and verse on exactly how John Kennedy's misreading changed the whole of history, so much that Germaine Greer came into her own. £20 to the aforementioned John Samson and David Silverman. £10 to the rest, except those who got in with one-liners, who can have £5 tokens. The vouchers go to John Samson.

In the beginning, God cremated the heavens and the earth. (Genesis)

And God said, Let there be night. (Genesis)

And the Lord God said: "It is good that the man should be alone . . . " (Genesis)

In the same day, the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, "Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egham in the South unto the great Inner Hebrides in the North . . . " (Genesis)

"Once more onto the beach, dear friends, once more!" (Henry V)

". . . Hermann Thaelmann (German Workers' Party) Fifteen million, two hundred and thirty votes; Friedrich Ebert (Social Democrats) Eighteen million, one hundred and three votes; Adolf Hitler (National Socialists) er . . . Twenty thousand, nine hundred votes. I declare Friedrich Ebert . . ."


"So, for this historic Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Arsenal make just two changes to the side which played Leeds last Saturday. They line up with David Silverman in goal, Dixon, Adams, Keown and Cole at the back . . . "

David Silverman

Berlin, June 1963. John F Kennedy, wearing prototype contact lenses, addresses the beleaguered citizens. He reads: "In the world of freedom today, the proudest boast is 'I've been in Barlinnie'."

This is greeted with adulation, led by a contingent from The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, among whose number lurk several former inmates of Glasgow's infamous Big House. They mob the president afterwards and offer to act as personal bodyguards.

Dallas, November 1963. A kilted ex-Argyll stands on the running-board of the open-topped presidential limo. Through a telescopic gunsight, Kennedy's would-be assassin tries to focus on his target's head. But something keeps flicking up into the viewfinder. A fractional shift in rifle alignment reveals a kilt aloft in the Texan breeze.

Unnerved, the hitman fires prematurely, shooting harmlessly into the Scotsman's behind.

In gratitude to the Scottish nation, Kennedy removes unsightly Polaris submarines from the Holy Loch.

Russia sees this as weakness and launches a nuclear attack on western Europe. Several blasts and counterblasts later, only the US and Australia remain. With emigration options limited, Germaine Greer becomes an American citizen and has an affair with JFK. The women's movement never happens - all thanks to a wayward skirt.

John Samson

Watch my lips. No new taxis. (George Bush)

That is why we are taking very tough measures now, in the hope that we can prevent the spread of the disease with the movement restrictions, contain it with clementines, and then eliminate it with our laughter policy. (Nick Brown)

I have a dram. (Martin Luther King)

And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a womble. (Genesis)

R Ewing

I have a bream. (Martin Luther King)

There is no such thing as sobriety. (Margaret Thatcher)

Enough on crime, enough on the causes of crime. (Tony Blair)

Hamish Wilson

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inhibit the earth. (Matthew)

Blessed are they which do hanker after righteousness: for they shall be thrilled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercury.

Adrian Fry

My paramount object in our struggle is to save the onion. (Abraham Lincoln)

T Griffiths

Thou shalt not omit adultery. (Exodus)

Frank Dunnill

Humour thy father and mother.


Katie Mallett

No 3684 Set by Watson Weeks

The discovery and analysis of an old clay pipe in Warwickshire has led to speculation that Shakespeare may have experimented with cannabis and even ecstasy. Could we have extracts from an early draft of a well-known play written by the Bard when he was clearly "under the influence". Max 200 words and in by 14 June.


This article first appeared in the 04 June 2001 issue of the New Statesman, A dying body attracts vultures