Magazine article The Spectator

In Brief

Magazine article The Spectator

In Brief

Article excerpt

In Competition No. 2715 you were invited to condense the plot of a well-known novel into 16 lines or fewer.

I n the interest of making space for the winners, I will follow your lead and keep it brief. Honourable mentions to G. Mc Ilraith, Robert Schechter and Michael Grosvenor Myer, who pulled off the impressive feat of boiling down Moby-Dick to four lines.

The prizewinners below are rewarded with £25 and the bonus fiver flutters into the lap of Alan Millard.

Bright bonnie Connie, though less bonnie latterly,

Marries a knight and becomes Lady Chatterley.

Clifford, her spouse, tries his best to appease her

But, being defective below, fails to please her.

Michaelis, a playwright, attempts to relieve her

Though, sadly, his efforts serve only to grieve her

When into the frame springs the frankest of fellers

Who's surly but burly, the gamekeeper -- Mellors.

Nothing he does or reveals to her frights her,

Indeed what she sees of him simply delights her

Till, finding herself in the family way,

She pops off to Venice in dire dismay.

The pair, being married, must file for divorce

But their partners object, which is par for the course,

And thus the tale ends with them stuck in a rut

Both rueing their pranks in that infamous hut!

Alan Millard

Mr Harding, gently drowsing

Over Hiram's sheltered housing,

In his daughters took delight

Played the cello morn and night.

When the Warden's worthiness

Was questioned by the gutter Press,

Saint-like, he resigned. His loss

Made Archdeacon Grantley cross.

Barchester spared little pity;

Mrs Proudie ran the city.

Mr Harding, dear old fellow,

Quietly went back to his cello.

Paul Griffin

Clarissa Dalloway, slim, pale, in blue,

was sad about the war but glad it stopped.

She thought of other men whom once she knew,

and planned a formal party as she shopped.

Less powerful people lived their parallel

unhappy lives, and passed her in the street.

Her life was rather dull, but theirs was hell.

Their paths would almost touch but never meet.

Medical experts, members of her set,

would over-analyse a shell-shocked man

who chose defenestration to forget.

His poor abandoned wife came from Milan.

Sir William Bradshaw and his wife were late.

He spoke about this case and politics. …

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