The setting is Ancient Greece but for reasons of economy the action takes place on the shores of Derwent Water in the Lake District.
Centre stage is a large barrel (sponsored by the Diogenes Barrel Co of Keswick). Around it a troupe of large-breasted girls in various stages of undress dances to Mahler's Fifth. In the barrel sits Irene Descartes - a transvestite philosopher.
ID: I stink, therefore I might even ... Non.
I fornicate, therefore I could well ... non ...
I think ... I think this is the wrong line of enquiry.
Enter Jean-Paul Sartre
ID: Hey, Jean-Paul! How is the existentialism business?
J-P S: Ah! Malherbe alors! I 'aven't 'ad a decent acte gratuite for bloody weeks. (Nudges ID and winks)
Dis-moi, mon ami. Zis Wordsworth. Ees eet true ee 'as sex wiz 'iz sister?
Randall Webb, Twickenham
by Martin Amis
"They made a fucking silly mistake, though," the Professor of Communication said, and his teeth sank beneath his vodka-racked features like black spooks retreating into shadow. "We were covering a tit-shoot, getting the angles on the angles. My piece was for Bronco, and young Johns was being serious for Gender Review. But the doll assistant must have got it wrong, or not been listening. Anyway, there it was in GR as large as arseing life: `Maggie and Selina - jugs and rugs'." Replying with his coke-snorting face, Dixon picked up his professor round the waist, squeezed the furry grey-blue waistcoat against him to expel the breath, ran heavily with him up the steps to the john, and plunged the too-small feet in their capless shoes into a lavatory basin, pulling the plug once, twice, and again, stuffing the mouth with toilet-paper, until it stopped trying to speak or breathe ...
Jonathan Osmond, Penarth
PILGRIM'S PROGRESS by John Buchan
It was August and my friends had all left town. One afternoon, as I strolled down Piccadilly, wondering why I didn't join them, I chanced upon a friend I hadn't seen since Potgietersrust.
"Why Christian!" I cried, "You look down in the mouth. And ready for a journey too," I added, for I had espied his old Pioneer Corps kit-bag which gave the game away well and truly.
"You're right, Dick," said he. "I've had just about all a man can take here. Europe is a powder-keg just now, and this city is headed for destruction, that's for sure. Archie Evangelist - fellow in my club - says the place to be is Lord _____'s, where a man can breathe God's fresh air and mix with the right sort. But tell me, Dick, why does Christiana refuse to join me? Anyone can see that this place is a wilderness."
AW Brooke, Petworth, West Sussex
JUDE THE OBSCURE by Oliver Hardy
Jude and Sue finished their breakfast and they got up to leave. Jude pulled his bowler hat down firmly, adjusted his braces and ruffled Sue's hair, before they walked quickly across Christminster to their lodgings.
On reaching the place and going upstairs, narrowly dodging the piano coming the other way, they went into their rooms. Jude was busying himself with making drinks for the children when he heard a shriek and saw Sue collapsed on the floor. In horror he went over and saw the children hanging from the ceiling with glazed looks in their eyes. Then he spotted the note in Little Jude's writing, "Done because we are too menny".
Jude took off his hat. "That's another fine mess you've gotten us into, Little Jude," he said ruefully.
Hugh Westbrook, London N10
THE MAGIC ROUNDABOUT by Hunter S Thompson
"The sugar started kicking in about 20 miles past the roundabout. And suddenly these huge paper flowers were everywhere, their razor-white petals looking like Ninja death stars. It was only a matter of time until black- hooded kittens started failing from the sky, but no point telling the rabbit about it, he'd see them soon enough. I'd already had to spray the rabbit down with Mace once today when he'd picked up some deformed Nazi hitch-hiker. Girls with heads that big don't just skip round magic gardens, no they're all intimately related to heavy backwoods law enforcement officers called Zebedee and judges called Mr McHenry. Just the kind of people you want dropping the hammer when you've a wagon load of dangerous and illegal glucose on your caboose. Shit, we even had granulated," said Dougal.
Clive Frayne, Chester le Street, Co Durham
THE TRAGICAL HISTORY OF DR FAUSTUS by Tony Marlow MP
When we hear one rack the name of
Abjure the Treaty and the Ecu too,
We fly, in hope to get his glorious vote.
Yet this is Eurohell, nor am I out of it:
Thinkst thou that I who could yet be a
And have a limo and a driver too,
Am not tormented with ten thousand hells
In being deprived of everlasting bliss?
The polls bode ill, time runs, election
Union will come and Tony must be damn'd.
So I'll leap back to Major: who pulls me
It is Bill Cash, who when the world
Will stop it with a point of order deftly
O he is fairer than the evening air,
Supported by a million blue-rinse votes
And none but he shall be my guiding star.
G Langley, Bristol
TRAINSPOTTING by John Walsh
SPLAT - a large drop of gob hit target. Your hero skipped nimbly out of the way. An unmistakable sound of serious vomiting came from behind me and turning, I skidded on a patch of what was most probably a product of an orifice found below the belt. There, a near-nude Kate Moss lookalike lay, sicking up her guts, a pile of abandoned syringes adjacent, very Tate Gallery conceptual. My guide, whose tumescent tale Up Ya Nose had just made the Booker shortlist, kicked her in the ribs. "Fooking well get oop." I winced. Though used to scenes of genteel debauchery at the Groucho Club, I couldn't stand by and let a woman be kicked when she was down. Besides, there was a certain little come-hither sparkle in the dilated pupils of her large blue eyes ...
Stella Marshall, Hook, Hants