Competition - Win vouchers to spend at any Tesco store

Competition No 3703

Set by Margaret Rogers, 15 October

Translations of French classics by pupils who learnt their English from EastEnders.

Report by Ms de Meaner

You varied wildly in your attitude to spelling phonetically. But I'm sure we can all pronounce the words wiv proper gusto in our heads, with or without instructions. £20 to the winners; the vouchers go to Gerard Benson.

Mum died today, I reckon. Or maybe the day what's before that, I ain't bleedin' certain. I mean, the telegram what come from the Home says: Your mother has departed life. Funeral tomorrow. Apologies all round. And so anythink's possible, don'tcha see; it could 'ave been the day before, considering.

The Old Folks Gaff is down Marengo, 'bout fifty miles or summink from your Algiers. Well then, if I get orf on the two o'clock bus, I should be dahn there afore dark, done and dusted. Then, after a lay-down there, overnight, doin' the proper bleedin' vigil wiv the old cow, I could be back here tomorrow, sixish, easy. I sorted the two days away wiv my boss, and that; blimey, he couldn't not have agreed, eh, given what'd happened. For a minute I thought the bloke had a bit of the old hump, I tellya, so I says, wivout thinking, "Sorry, your bleedin' highness, but it's not summink I done personal, give it a rest."

'Course later, y'see, I knew I hadn't no need for tellin' him that, I swear to God.

Will Bellenger (L'Etranger)

Was Chen gonna lift the mozzie-net or was e gonna clobber the bloke fru it? The fing was fair turnin is guts over; e noo e ad the bottle but at that moment it was just makin im feel stoopid, mesmerised as e was by that eap of white stuff fallin from the ceiling on to a body that seemed less than a shadder, all e could see bein that foot, alf turned in sleep - a man's flesh. The only light come from the buildin next door: a large oblon of pale lectric cut up by the winder bars, one of em cuttin cross the bed just above that foot, as if to show up the solid livin flesh. Four or five car orns ooted all at once. Was e rumbled? Ow to fight enemies oo defend theirselves, oo are awake!

The noise stopped: some bit of road rage (there was still road rage out there in the real world) . . . E was back again lookin at that soft patch of muslin and the oblon of light, stopped dead in this night where time stood still.

Tony Black (La Condition Humaine)

When I come home, me old mum, seeing as it was parky out, asked me if I could do with a cuppa, not that I usually go for a splash. I told her "Nah" first off, but then I dunno, I thought better of it. She got me one of them dinky little sponge-cake whatsits. Anyway, this wossname's done all nice, like it's been moulded in a wiggly-sided scallop shell. Right away, automatic-like, knackered after a real bummer of a day, and knowing I was in for a lousier one tomorrow, I scooped up some of the old Rosie Lee with cake dunked in it. Soon as ever this spoonful reached me mouth I come over all funny. I thought, hang about, what's going on? This is a bit of alright. I didn't 'alf feel fantastic . . . . fanbloodytastic . . . . me meself and I. Suddenly I didn't give a tinker's fart, couldn't give a toss. This feeling, it was "easy come - easy go", "love and peace". It was all one, and the one was me. Put it this way, I knew I was the greatest. No worries, I thought.

Anne Du Croz (A la Recherche . . .)

I come across this bird in the water, Marie Cardona. Used to be in our typing-pool. I'd always fancied her. Her too, I reckon. She left the job before we could get it together. While I was helping her on to the raft I titted her up a bit. I stayed in the water. She was arse-up on the raft. She turned to face me, hair all stuck down, pissing 'erself with laughter. I pulled meself up beside her and for a laugh, a try-on, like, laid with my head on her belly. She never said nothin', so I stayed there. Very nice. Blue sky. Gold sun. I could feel Marie's belly throbbing under me neck. We laid there enjoying it for a bit. Then it got too hot and Marie dived in. I followed her. Just for a joke, I tapped her up a bit under the water. She never stopped laughing. When we got out, we fixed up to go to a flick, one of them comedies. But when we'd dressed, she saw my black gear. "Who died?" she says. "Me mum," I says. "When?" she says. "Yesterday," I says. Well, she backed off a bit after that.

Gerard Benson (L'Etranger)

Yeah, but he knew he hadn't got a result yet. He'd just, like, done his job, and he'd have to do it all again when there was more bother, him and his mates, real diamond geezers who could be a bit naughty but was always ready to help a sick old lady.

And as he listened to all the punters down in the Square having a right good knees-up round the old joanna, Rieux remembered that you never knew what was waiting for you. He knew what all them mugs out there hadn't thought about but could have found out if they'd got off their backsides and used their loaves: that all them germs, they never really do a runner. They sort of hang around, in the bedroom, down the cellar, in that cupboard where you keep your clobber, all over your gaff. And who knows, one fine day, just when you think you've got it all sorted and everything's sweet as a nut, suddenly it all goes pear-shaped and you have to leg it for a quick MOT service down at the quack's.

Michael Cregan (La Peste)

No 3706 Set by John Crick

That time approaches. We want your Christmas list of suitable presents for your favourite literary characters: body armour for Julius Caesar, perhaps, or an allergy-testing kit for Hamlet, glass eyes for Gloucester?

Max 200 words by 15 November (to appear in issue dated 26 November) E-mail:

This article first appeared in the 05 November 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The rise and rise of President Blair