One of the many varied treats offered each week by the British magazine The Spectator (first published in 1828) is the result of a literary Competition (currently managed by Lucy Vickery).
The Spectator issue for 8 September gives the results of Competition 2663 in which readers were invited to submit a politically correct version of a well-known fairy tale. Vickery’s inspiration for this topic was James Finn Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times, “who recasts favourite yarns to take account of modern political sensibilities”. The five prize-winning entries published in this issue are up to the usual superb standard of imagination, writing and (where appropriate, as here) satire, exhibited in this column. The one which took the extra “fiver” (5 pounds sterling) is reproduced below. The enviable author is Bill Greenwell. The efforts of his co-winners, who received 30 GBP for their labours, are available here.
“An omnivorous, optically-challenged wiccan appropriates two pre-pubescent and differently-gendered siblings whose adoptive mother and natural father, themselves victims of a recession, have allegedly relinquished their custodial responsibilities. The siblings, exercising their right to roam, have nonetheless invaded the personal space of the wiccan, and defied national advisory consumption guidelines relating to body-mass index by eating her dwelling-house, which is biodegradable but high in fat content. She in turn force-feeds the male child, contrary to the spirit of Regulation Nf 1538/91 of the European Commission (June 1991), and employs the female child as a service operative, contrary to both EU directive 94/33/EC and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. The children perform person-slaughter upon the wiccan, and do not adequately dispose of the cremains. They also appropriate valuables, contrary to The Treasure Act of 1996. After returning to their father’s domicile, they live happily for an indeterminate subsequent period.”
That week’s challenge by Ms Vickery was:
No. 2666: Pseuds corner
“You are invited to supply an example of pretentious, pseudo-intellectual tosh in the shape of a review of a TV or radio soap opera or any other piece of entertainment — book, play, film — aimed at the mass market (150 words maximum). Entries should be submitted by email, where possible, to email@example.com by midday on 22 September.”
And the current challenge, No. 2668, if you are very quick, is to send in a poem “that contains advice from young to old” (16 lines maximum), by midday on 6 October.
Since September 2008 lucky Australian Spectator fans and addicts (like myself) have been able to purchase a separate Australian edition, with 12 extra pages of Australian content (mainly current political and social commentary). It is published three days after the British edition.