Competition - Win vouchers to spend at any Tesco store

Competition No 3696

Set by George Cowley on 27 August

Wendy Holden, in the NS diary, wrote of annoying pop tunes popping into one's consciousness at inopportune moments. We asked for a piece of serious journalism interspersed with snatches of song.

Report by Ms de Meaner

I was a little surprised at the choice of annoying pop tunes that "popped" into the text of some of your entries. I did feel that there should have been some sort of trigger for the song - a word, an idea, a thought. Not that they were selected by you seemingly entirely at random. Here is the opening line of one entry, which was not untypical: "It is expected that the resolution to be put to the BMA's annual conference . . . to change the basis upon which delegates are elected with a view to perfecting ways of making sealing wax possibly obtaining a better balance between doo wha diddy, diddy dum diddy doo and a puppet on a string general practitioners and hospital doctors will be strenuously opposed." Perhaps the author could take me through this? £20 to the winners. The vouchers go to Will Bellenger.

The contest for the leadership of the Conservative Party and I'll cry if I want to may well turn out to be the longest murder note ever written. Internecine the first cut is the deepest baby I know does not do adequate justice to the various backstabbers the backstabbers they smile in your face participating in the process. John Major Tom to ground control and Margaret Thatcher brand-new combine harvester laid into each other with such venom I'm talking 'bout the midnight rambler that Liberal Democrats may be chuckling their way to the ballot boxes little boxes and they're all made out of ticky-tacky, while as for the protagonists, their huff and puff the magic dragon lived by the sea will be remembered sweet sweet the memories you gave me only by the politically illiterate and lovers of the little by little facts and figures which are the stuff of occasional journalism. Neither was big enough for his boots were made for walking and guaranteed that their various opponents would move up up and away in the polls and that's the way I like it aha aha.

Will Bellenger

Dr Michael Ancram, sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans for nobody, is deluding himself when he says the future's bright for the Tories. Following Margaret Thatcher's criticisms of Ken Clarke, get back, get back to where you once belonged, it seems likely that the relatively unknown Duncan Smith - he is the egg man - will be elected leader. If this happens, it is likely the party will split over Europe sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble, tres bien ensemble. Undoubtedly William Hague, day after day alone on the hill, will be delighted finally to leave office - baby, you can drive my car! However, Europe is not the only problem brewing. Michael Portillo - I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me - has turned his back on a number of key Tory policies here, there and everywhere, from Section 28 to the legalisation of cannabis. On top of this, Ann Widdecombe, lady Madonna, continues her battle with sanity; Lord Archer, paperback writer, has finally been banged up; and the Hamiltons are embroiled in their usual media circus - here comes the Sun. However, we should all bear in mind that politics is a strange old business. Tomorrow never knows.

Hamish Wilson

The violence at Genoa last month was totally deplorable . . . I love the sound of breaking glass . . . in no circumstances can such behaviour be justified . . . the time has come for fighting in the street. Responsible world leaders . . . scary monsters and supercreeps . . . selfless men of integrity . . . I wanna be elected . . . were confronting issues of importance . . . money, money, money, in a rich man's world . . . such as improvements in education . . . school's been blown to pieces . . . and social services . . . the lunatics have taken over the asylum . . . where real progress is being made . . . the rich get rich and the poor get poorer. It is ludicrous to suggest that the news encouraged the violence . . . crash bang wallop, what a picture, what a photograph . . . when sole responsibility lies with the demonstrators . . . if you're looking for trouble . . . and the subversive literature circulating among them . . .

Lenin's on sale again. Doubtless similar scenes will mar this year's Labour Party conference . . . Old Macdonald had a farm . . . at Brighton . . . I do like to be beside the seaside . . . but the so-called anti-globalisation movement is doomed to fizzle out in futility . . . nothing's gonna stop us now . . .

Ian Birchall

No 3699 Set by John O'Byrne

Since 1982, the English department at San Jose State University has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest that challenges entrants from around the world to compose the worst possible opening sentence of a novel.

The winner in 2000 in the romance category was Kevin Ruston of Barnet, Herts. His winning entry begins: "Theirs was a love that transcended time, ran roughshod over moral dogmas, guffawed in the face of adversity, rent asunder the shackles of social convention and took a sledgehammer to the crumbling walls of religious doctrine . . ." We would like you to provide the purple-prose opening sentences to a bad science-fiction, detective or romantic novel.

Max 200 words, to be in by 27 September

(to appear in issue dated 8 October)


This article first appeared in the 17 September 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The end of the open society?