Competition

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Competition No 3912

Set by Valerie Yule, 12 December

There are lots of religious holy days throughout the year. We wanted some modern superstition days.

Report by Ms de Meaner

Annual results day is here again - and the second year running, David Silverman returns in triumph. It was an exciting December, with Adrian Fry, who had been in the lead, being caught in the penultimate week and everything decided in the final comp. Welcome back to form Anne Du Croz, welcome back Derek Morgan and Sid Field. We also keep on record those who just made it into the top 30 (previous years shown in italics). £20 each to Fry and Silverman, maintaining form with a vengeance. And the Tesco vouchers go to this week's overall winner: David Silverman.

Atheistmas, falling on the first day of spring, celebrates the day life literally sprang into existence after aeons of nothingness. Revellers eagerly anticipate the Atheistmas meal, waiting for all the delicious ingredients to evolve on to their plates. Meanwhile, with building excitement, they watch the self-pulling Atheistmas crackers slowly developing to a

critical mass, when they will spontaneously

and simultaneously explode. Other highlights include the Festival of Nine Alternative Narratives and Carols, including "O Come, All ye Faithless", "Big Bang Terribly on High", "No Way in a Manger" and "No Hell, No Hell". Godot: the pantomime is a perennial favourite ("He isn't behind you! . . .") along with Bertrand Russell: the musical, starring Julie Andrews and including the classics "How do you solve a problem like predestination and free will?" and "Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens . . ./These have evolved into my favourite things . . ."

David Silverman

Always on Friday 13 and preferably in March (on account of the Ides), Superstition Day is a chance to acknowledge that, though Godless, the universe is an intricate masterpiece of malignant design. On this day, all believers will remain trembling in bed. Unable to get out on the wrong side, we'll meditate on the cracks in paving stones on which we won't step, the ladders under which we shan't walk and the brollies we'll have no reason to open indoors. Neither solo magpie nor soupcon of spilled salt will find its unknowing predictive capacity invoked, as believers celebrate a cosmos in which fortune is apportioned on the basis of coins turned in pockets beneath a full moon, and death portended by the stopping of clocks. On this day, fate will go unprovoked that those attentive to omens and portents might enjoy 24 hours of unhindered safety. Touch wood.

Adrian Fry

No 3915 Set by Ian Birchall

Boris Johnson resigned as editor of the Speccie as not compatible with being a member of the shadow cabinet. Suggest a replacement whose day job is even more incompatible and write an editorial.

Max 175 words by 2 February. E-mail: comp@ newstatesman.co.uk

This article first appeared in the 23 January 2006 issue of the New Statesman, Why British men are rapists