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  1. Politics
10 June 2015updated 07 Sep 2021 10:49am


By New Statesman

Set by Jersey

We asked how Samuel Beckett would have handled the problems of modern life, such as “mis-selling” by banks or the use of a mobile phone in a train’s “quiet” carriage.

This week’s winners

Excellent. There was a wide choice of Beckettian responses: plays, monologues, essays. Hon menshes to David Silverman (economic migrants) and Josh Ekroy (leaves on the line). The winners get £20 each; an extra fiver goes to D A Prince. Next week: the top 20 winners of 2014.

A&E closures

Vladimir lies bleeding under
a huge pile of rubble.

Estragon (enters): What happened?

Vladimir: The accident and emergency has been closed. That’s how it is on this bitch
of an earth.

Estragon: Have you tried the GP’s surgery?

Vladimir: Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It’s awful.

Estragon: What happened to the rest of the hospital?

Vladimir: They closed the maternity ward, too.

Estragon: They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.

Vladimir: It was closed because of Osborne’s cuts.

Estragon: Moron! Vermin! Abortion! Sewer rat! Cretin!

Vladimir: What will Clegg say?

Estragon: Nothing to be done.

Vladimir: We’ll hang ourselves tomorrow. (Pause.) Unless Miliband comes.

Estragon: And if he comes?

Vladimir: We’ll be saved. Perhaps.

(They do not move.)

Ian Birchall

The Tesco experience

Butter, milk, cornflakes, tea, you, vee, ex, why, bacon, biscuits, Bourbon, Valois, Capet, bread, potatoes. Enough? Enough. Swerve the wandering shop-shocked oldsters, the pushchaired genitors, the semi-conscious dead-eyed shelf-stackers, make the turn at the end of the aisle and roll up to the junction, leftwards the rank of checkouts, the operators scanning, staring into space or silently screaming with boredom, rightwards the line of automated self-service machines, in one direction a complex technical task, often frustrating, demanding keen concentration, high levels of confidence and the capacity to remain calm in the face of intolerable provocation, in the other a potentially difficult social interchange with a sometimes capricious agent of commerce calling for the ability to converse on neutral subjects while filling a carrier. Stand. Consider. Abandon trolley by Individual Desserts, slip out
of the doors.

C J Gleed

Leakage from headphones

Two bus passengers flanking me. Voices on all sides then in me scraps of ancient voices, ancient voice in me not mine and musical noises from their ears, leaking like a wound
in the world’s side, all that
old blather.

It’s not me they’re calling, not me they’re talking about, it’s not yet my turn, it’s someone else’s turn, I merely hear without understanding, without being able to profit by it, by what I hear, to do what, to rise and go, and be done with hearing.

I could fetch the both of them a sharp blow with my stick if I had not lost it.

But then there would be the silence, I don’t know, perhaps it’s a dream, all a dream, that would surprise me, I’ll wake, in the silence, and never sleep again, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Keith Cook

Handling cold callers

The telephone. The telephone rings. A person asks for
Mr Beckett. I assent. I am
Mr Beckett. He tells a tale I do not wish to hear. I listen but
do not respond. He tells the
tale again. He is not Irish. He
is not French. I listen again.

He calls again. I listen again. He tells me the same tale. A
tale of something I should need. Something I do not
need. I listen.

He no longer rings. Oh, this is a happy day.

Brian D Allingham

Self-service checkouts

An unwanted item in the bagging area. Try again. Fail again. Every unexpected is like any unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. The unexpected is my expected.

Let go. I can’t. I am waiting for Help. I must not think of certain things, only this unexpected. Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. Let me do one thing while I have the chance. But what? I am waiting for Help, the bell ringing in my ears. How long must I wait? What am I doing here, that is the question. I am waiting for Help to come.

Nothing is more real than this nothing. All I regret is being born, then, having come here. What is super in the market? I can’t go on. I’ll go on. All this is expected because what do we have to hope for? An unexpected item is what happens. Then, where are
we? Fail again. Help will come. Fail better.

D A Prince

The next challenge

No 4359 By Jersey

Rowan Williams recently pointed out in the NS that,
in writing “King Lear”, Shakespeare changed the happy ending of his source material to an unhappy one. Could we have some speculation about  the “original” happy endings of his other tragedies in Bard-like dialogue, or a plot description?

Max 150 words by 12 February

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