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31 October 2016updated 07 Sep 2021 10:36am

The NS Competition: No 4446

By New Statesman

Set by Ron Grant

We asked you to come up with prose containing the following ten terms: Rawlplug, motionless, taser, aspirin, scene-stealer, reductionist, viscous, Cistercian, braconid and eleemosynary.

This week’s winners

Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed that we are not setting a new comp this week. That is because the NS Competition is ending for a period. We hope it may return at some point in the future, extra pagination permitting. The winners of No 4448 – the final comp set – will appear in the Christmas special issue. We thank everyone (obviously not all still with us) for taking part over the decades that it has been running.

We extend a welcome to more comp newbies, some of whom actually won after beating a few old-timers into the hon menshes: Sherry Belcher, Val Bicknell (“a new subscriber: love the magazine!”), Michael de Laine, Alastair Snow, Monica Barry, Bill Lake, Judith Taylor, Garry Whannel and the regular cap comper Geoff Smith.

The standard was excellent this week – and we were almost grateful for the extra space, even though Donald Trump seems to be getting into every comp we have set recently. Hon menshes to Ian Birchall, Lisbeth Rake, Bill Greenwell, David Silverman, Sherry Belcher, Val Bicknell and Brian D Allingham. This week’s winners get £25 each, with an extra fiver for Geoff Smith. (The editor writes: a special thank you to Ms de Meaner for her hard work, dedication and enthusiasm.)

The Trump tapes

Donald Trump: This list of internal enemies is OK, but why the Cistercian monk?

Aide: On the provisional list. He is an intellectual and has been called a reductionist. Don’t know what that means, but it should be checked out.

Trump: These legal tortures – the repeated use of a taser to render motionless is fine. And forced swallowing of viscous fluid. Pinning to the wall with a Rawlplug seems a little harsh, but (sound of chuckling) we could give them an aspirin. What is “braconid”?

Aide: On the use of phobias list. It means wasps. How’ll we run this?

Trump: Eleemosynary, my dear Watson, as that Brit detective said. I will announce a friendly version from the Trump White House golf course. And I don’t want that scene-stealer Comey getting in on the act.

Geoff Smith

Pest control at Rievaulx

Dear Brother Benedict,

I am sorry to hear of the infestation of aphids, moths and beetles in your esteemed Cistercian abbey at Rievaulx. May I offer some advice – on a purely eleemosynary basis, of course. First, give up the pointless attempt to taser each offending insect individually – a reductionist approach to this complex problem is advisable.

Having found the troublesome larvae in their resting places, apply the enclosed beneficial braconid wasp larvae liberally. You will find them initially to be a motionless, viscous mass, but once inserted among their prey, they will soon become active, laying their eggs, which will hatch over time and devour the enemy. Seal each hideaway with a simple Rawlplug, tipped with an aspirin. This seems to ensure complete removal of the pests, although there is almost always one scene-stealer that escapes to fight another day.

Keith Giles

Foundational beliefs

Believe me, my foundation is definitely eleemosynary. I’m a charitable guy, right? I learned all about charity at school from this monk who gave us lessons. I think he was a Benedictine, though he could’ve been a Cistercian.

But my charity doesn’t extend to viscous slime-bags like Ted Cruz, buzzing round like a giant braconid. The guy was a real pain, a kind of human wasp sting. Still, an aspirin fixed it.

My debate with that scene-stealer Clinton? She simply wouldn’t shut up, kept bringing out all those damned facts.
If I’d had a taser, I would’ve zapped her motionless. As it was, I just had to prowl around the stage imagining the world’s biggest Rawlplug, and where I’d like to put it.

Now I’d better get my reductionist speechwriter to translate this into tweets that even my dumbest supporters can understand.

Brian Allgar

A reductionist view

Standing motionless, Brother Ambrose contemplated the viscous mass of his braconid colony. Never one to indulge in fantasies, he was inclined to take a reductionist view and accept the tragedy as a natural phenomenon.

Strolling through the cloisters and needing a second opinion, he noted Brother Anselm, the eternal scene-stealer, practising his juggling with three large aspirin bottles.

Quickly, he walked on to where Cromwell the handyman, who eked out a living on eleemosynary relief from the Cistercian community, patched up fallen gargoyles. Handing Cromwell a stray Rawlplug, Ambrose related the tragedy, speaking into his good ear.

“Clearly I misunderstood,” said Cromwell. “When you returned from your wilderness retreat yesterday, I thought you said, ‘It’s time to take a taser to my wasps.’”

“Heavens, no! Seeing my reflection in the chapel window I said, ‘It’s time I took a razor to my chops.’”

Esme Hammer

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