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Competition No 3697

Set by John Crick on 3 September

You were asked for extracts from the diary of the partner of a famous person alive in the 20th century that would posthumously alter our view of their character or role in history.

Report by Ms de Meaner

A bumper crop indeed. Lots and lots of Eva Brauns - a tricky one that, and none hit the spot. I was particularly sad to lose the diaries from a friend of Enid Blyton: "Thursday. Managed to intercept E's letter to Einstein correcting his theory of relativity. Reminded her how sensitive Albert is . . . " (D A Prince); from Lady Russell: "It must have been a hard hunt. Bertrand did not return until five. 'The bugger got away!' he said in his gruff, manly voice" (Hamish Wilson); and from Mrs Rolf Harris: "I was a bit worried when he started biting the heads of cockatiels and hamsters, but then he explained it was a kind of postmodern ironic nostalgia thing . . ." Two hon menshes for those precious sentences alone. An hon mensh also goes to Basil Ransome-Davies, who took the same road as Margaret Rogers, but not quite so well. £20 to the winners. The vouchers go to John O'Byrne.

(Nora Barnacle)

June 16. James despondent. Spent the day plotting his new novel - but kept muttering: "It's all Greek to me."

August 20. He's still blocked, stuck on the first paragraph. I suggest he go for a long walk to clear the head.

September 1. The alarm clock doesn't budge him, though it batters the brains out of me. Ah God let him sleep. He was thinking of so many things during the night, perhaps he'll get an idea or two for the book.

October 9. James spends day staring at wall. "I'll never be able to write a book like The Odyssey. The task in front of me is hopeless. Maybe a detective novel would be more to the point. I don't know what to do, Nora. Perhaps another walk . . . "

November 17. Well, if he doesn't get off his arse and past page one, we'll all starve. A writer with block is a terrible thing. Push him out for another walk while I think things out.

December 3. Things are getting desperate. Page one not finished and not a bite in the house. Another walk for him.

December 24. I've now taken matters into my own hands and am writing the damned thing myself.

January 8. A hundred pages done. Easier than I thought. Does spelling matter?

January 9. James says the feet are walked off him. Announces he's off for a "quick" holiday with Beckett.

June 3. Almost finished. Says he needs new shoes.

John O'Byrne

(Victoria Beckham)

Sunday. Found David reading as usual with the telly off. "What are you reading?" I asked. "Gibbon," he replied. "About monkeys?" I asked. "No. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire."

I thought a bit. "You're not thinking of signing up for an Italian club?" I asked. "No," he answered, not looking up.

"But the Romans don't have an empire." "No," he said. "It declined and fell. It's history."

Monday. David is still reading that book. I told him not to turn the pages down. I looked in the shelves and found there were umpteen volumes, all nicely bound. I looked at one. It was very heavy-going but classy-looking.

Tuesday. David is still reading and turning the corners down. "It's a pity to spoil good books like that," I said. "How do you know they're good? You haven't read them," he replied. "They're good-looking," I said.

"Ah, but all that glisters is not gold," he said. "It should be glitters," I told him. "Not according to Shakespeare," he replied. "Still, books do furnish a room!"

What David knows about interior decoration he'll soon forget. He's bought some old pots. I told him they look like they come from ancient Rome. He said: "They did."

Margaret Rogers

(Courtney Love)

Tuesday. Kurt's worried about the garden. Did he put down the right type of moss-killer this morning? And should he have painted the concrete gnomes' hats blue? He's upstairs now seeking answers and playing calypso on his beloved Bontempi organ.

Wednesday. America declares war on Iraq. Kurt is overjoyed. "Yo!" he keeps yelling, "let's kick Arab ass." He's talking of enlisting in the USAF. I think he's over the gnome trauma today. In the evening, we curl up on the couch and watch a video, Nazi Dominatrixes Crush Turban'd Testicles - his favorite.

Thursday. Oh dear, Kurt's favorite cactus has turned black and probably died. He's distraught. "Percy, Percy, oh my beloved Percy, don't leave me." Worse is to come - I accidentally tread on Kurt's favorite meerschaum and snap it in half. Not even a whole evening of his adored Waltons video can console him.

Friday. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear - the USAF reject his application, all the grass dies, the paint has run all over the gnomes' faces, the Bontempi organ has bust. After we bury Percy and the broken meerschaum, Kurt retires to the greenhouse . . . . . . . what's that bang?

Simon Herbertson

No 3700 Set by Frank McManus

Last set in 1976, we'd like you to have another stab at verse with every line taken from a well-known poem of your choice. Your entry has to make perfect sense. So, no nonsense verse, please.

To be in by 3 October(to appear in issue dated 15 October) E-mail:

This article first appeared in the 24 September 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The war that Bush cannot win