Oh, and there are prizes, bottles of champagne on their way to Jonathan Osmond for Friday's `Lucky Jim' by Martin Amis and to David Lloyd for `The Hound of the Baskervilles Ha Ha Ha', below
PRIDE & PREJUDICE by Tracey Austen
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a singles player in possession of a good forehand must be in want of a doubles partner.
"My dear Mr Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that there are to be new balls at Netherfield? What a fine thing for our girls!"
"Lizzie, my dear," said Mr Bennet to his favourite daughter, "it appears your mother wants you to have a set with Mr Bingley."
"Oh but father," replied Lizzie, "Jane is so much more accomplished at the net than I and her ground strokes would do us all credit, far better than mine ever could. Might she not go in my place?"
"As long as one of you will play it matters not which. But we do not want a walkover so let us take the brougham," sighed Mr Bennet.
A C Webster, Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancs
HEART OF DARKNESS by Terence Conran
Any wallpaper - even flocked - would have been welcome. This was clearly not the Fulham Road, although the charcuterie was interesting.
Stephen Smithson, Leeds
MIDDLEMARCH by TS Eliot
Mr Casaubon was lost. He paused on the bridge at Westminster, and considered where he was. But for some reason he could not think clearly; could not think at all, could not ...
He walked to the railing. The Thames still flowed below, oily, like paint. Disconnected timbers were borne on its sluggish surface. But no fish swam there, thought Mr Casaubon; no blue kingfishers flashed along the level water. Too-wit, too-woo, said his lips. Too-wit, too-woo.
But he had grown too old for wooing; too stiff in the knees, too ponderous of manner. How must others perceive him, with his bald head and tight waistcoat?
He turned back to the road. Carriages swarmed through ruts, and men rushed with umbrellas. So many men, moving frantically and without purpose, shadowy in the rain.
"Regardez," he said to himself. "Le monde, l'abime.
nada, niente, nicht."
G Strugnell, Coulsdon, Surrey
FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS (OR BATH) by Emma Thompson
We were just outside Bath, on the edge of the Cotswolds, when the tea took hold.
"I do so apologise for the inconvenience, ma'am, but I simply must ask the carriage driver to stop."
I looked at Mr Charles Winthrop. His face had a strange, contorted expression. A face, I might add, that normally was not without certain pleasing aspects.
"But why? Do you wish to be ill?" I asked. His eyes were crossed. His legs, also, were in such a fashion.
"No, ma'am," he replied. His eyes rolled about in a not agreeable manner. He crossed and uncrossed his legs with hardly a pause between.
"Mr Winthrop, what can be the matter?"
"Quite simply, Mrs Branagh," he said, "I must `water the begonias'."
I felt light-headed. My voice faltered as I spoke, "Why didn't you say so? I thought you were needing the toilet!"
Norman Ferguson, Glasgow
LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU by M Proops
At Aunt Amiot's I lie awake listening for Monsieur Swann's bell, knowing that I must have Mummy's goodnight kiss as her breasts cushion me to sleep into that magic-lantern land where chauffeurs in rubber uniforms become my nuns of speed sweeping me through salons and cathedrals to dark places where bloodstained butchers push hatpins into caged rats while their naked delivery-boys play with thick sausage. Is this normal?
My dear Marcel, this is perfectly normal for a growing Jewish boy. I'm just a mite concerned about your slight insomnia. Combray can be so bracing. Avoid too many madeleine cakes at supper. Try instead lime tea. Meanwhile why not a little seaside air? Next time Papa is deep into his naughty cordon sanitaire take Mummy to Galeries Lafayette for a new bra (Oedipus range up to 44DD) and then a room for two at the Grand Hotel Cabourg. Sleep tight.
Roger Betteridge, Shardlow, Derbyshire
THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT by Timothy Leary
The Owl and the Pussycat dropped a tab
And sat back to see what they'd see
The Book of the Dead had been well read
For when they were out of their tree
The Owl looked down at his feet on the ground
And sang to a small sitar,
"O luminous Pussy, O Pussy you glow,
What a luminous Pussy you are,
What a luminous Pussy you are!"
Pussy said to the Owl "Oh Man, how you howl!
Your voice, it has power and grace
We should form a band, and travel the land
But what shall we do for a bass?"
So they tripped down the street, they were hoping to meet
A bassist who knew all his chords
And there on a stage, a Piggy Wig played
And the notes they came straight from the Lord
And the notes they came straight from the Lord.
"Say Pig, fancy joining this band we are coining?"
Said the Piggy, "Sure man, count me in!"
So they moved to LA and recorded next day
With Bowie, Beefheart and McGuinn
Their debut LP - The Pig, Puss and Me
It went triple gold in a week
And "Paw/Trotter/Wing" together still sing,
Lysergically fuelled, so to speak To speak
Lysergically fuelled, so to speak.
Alan Weston, London E18
THE DESERTED VILLAGE by Sir James Goldsmith
Ill fares the land, to hast'ning ills a prey,
Where Brussels rules and Europhobes decay.
Federalists may flourish or may fade
A breath can make them, as a breath has made.
But we bold Sceptics, our great nation's pride,
Have high ideals that may not be denied.
A time there was, ere griefs o'er whelmed our land,
When I could be content with head in sand,
For me light labour spread her wholesome store,
And piled me up a billion, maybe more.
But then I yearn'd to grasp Britannia's sword,
And high me home from indolence abroad.
No more I cried "Nunc est bibendum"
But "let my people have a referendum".
Eurolackeys lashed with words unkind
And the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind,
But still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That I should have such wealth but not a clue.
Geoffrey Langley, Bristol
THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES HA HA HA by Sir Arthur Roddy Doyle
I'm a doctor. I was in the house with Holmes. He turned and looked at me. His nose sloped down in a curve. It was like one of the little hills on the pitch and putt in Barrytown. I went there once with my da. It was dead boring.
"There's this dog."
"How d'ya know?"
"Don't be a bloody eejit Watson. Your Baskerville man told me."
"Will we go and see him?"
He had a big house this Sir Baskerville. Stuck in the middle of nowhere. We went on the train. There was a lot of chasing about and this feller got stuck in the quicksand. It was all sticky and smelt like old farts. Holmes and me killed the dog and we went home. I never liked dogs much.
"How d'ya do that Holmes?"
"Dead easy, Watson."
David Lloyd, Bristol
KARAOKE by Beatrix Potter
In which an Edwardian authoress, BP, known for her anthropomorphic animal tales but struck with writer's block, begins to see and hear her own characters and scenes in reality.
The scene plays in a London restaurant. BP is discussing with her agent a theatrical adaptation of a tale of a dysfunctional mole.
Agent: Listen, the director's not happy with the ending, it's a bit preachy, not enough sex ... are you listening?
BP is staring at the adjacent table, where a squirrel, a rabbit and a mouse are taking tea.
Squirrel (sternly adjusting its spectacles): Well, mouse, I hope you're ashamed of yourself, you naughty little fellow. Fancy stealing a whole ...
BP (mouthing the words, astonished): ... piece of Cheddar ...
Agent: Are you feeling all right?
BP: It's speaking my lines.
Agent: Who, the squirrel or the mouse?
Jon Hughes, Cheadle, Cheshire