Words to wake up the Mogadon Booker (ha, ha, ha)

Share
Related Topics
THIS IS the time of year when six different publishers are busy printing wrappers saying 'Winner of the Booker Prize 1994]' ready to slap on the winner as soon as it is announced. Unfortunately, five of them will be wrong, which means that at least five publishers will very soon be pulping 'Winner of the Booker Prize 1994' wrappers, which must be a melancholy occupation, but at least they can comfort themselves with the thought that the Booker Prize does still generate interest in novels.

Or so I thought till the other day, when I saw a stark headline reading 'Mogadon Booker Prize'.

This is the sort of headline that always confuses me because I don't take drugs and can never remember if Mogadon cheers you up or slows you down, but having read the item I get the very strong impression that it's the latter, because apparently the public is finding the six books on the Booker shortlist a little hardgoing or too hard to buy. Booksellers who had hoped to do a bit of business with novels this week are sitting on their hands. Books by Pasternak are going all right, but, unfortunately, it's not Boris but Anna who is doing so well.

Anyway, feeling sorry for the Booker people, I wondered, not for the first time, why nobody has ever got a computer to work on producing a novel that would have the opposite effect of Mogadon. This time, finally, I have done something about it. Over the weekend, when the mighty Independent computer normally lies idle, I fed it extracts from all the past Booker winners, plus a working knowledge of world literature, and asked it to come up with a new bestseller. It lay quiet for a while, then up on its screen came the curious question: 'This Roddy Doyle fellow; is he any relation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle?'

It seemed possible. I fed back the answer: 'indubitably'. Moments later the computer printed out the following:

Sherlock Holmes Ha Ha Ha

A new novel by

Sir Roddy Conan Doyle

My best friend was called Sherlock. He lived in a big house all by himself. As far as we could tell, he didn't have a da or a ma. He just played the violin all day and sometimes took potshots at a target with an air gun.

Do you not have any parents, Sherl? I asked him once.

I did once, he said mysteriously - but they turned out to be surplus to requirement.

Sherlock often talked in this sort of way, so that none of us could understand him. When he did, we tried to beat him up, but he was pretty good at unarmed combat and so we desisted after a while, as we were the only ones getting hurt.

What Sherl was best at was guessing games. He could just look at a boy he hadn't seen before and tell you all sorts of things about him. I remember once there was a boy called Flaherty, and Sherlock said to him:

I see you have been to the horse races with your da.

Yes, I have, said Flaherty. How did you know?

Everyone knows Flaherty's da is a bookmaker, I said.

The earth on Flaherty's boots is a peculiar clay you only get at the racecourse, said Sherlock, ignoring me. Perhaps you have read the little book I have written on Dublin clays.

I hadn't, and I felt resentful that Sherlock could write books when I still found it hard to read them, so I tried to beat him up again, but he still won.

Aren't you afraid of anyone, Sherlock? I asked him, out of breath and sporting a few new bruises.

No. Not even Moriarty.

Who is Moriarty?

Only the most evil boy in Dublin, said Sherlock, but he would not say more.

One day there was another new boy in our neighbourhood that none of us had ever seen before, and I went over and said to him that if he didn't go away he might get in trouble, but he simply ignored me and I wondered if this might be the Moriarty boy that Sherlock had told me about.

Is your name Moriarty? I said.

No, it is not, said a familiar voice. My name is Sherlock and if you don't want to ruin my disguise I would ask you to leave me alone.

But why are you disguised like that? I asked . . .

If you want the Independent computer to complete this brand new novel called 'Sherlock Holmes Ha Ha Ha', simply dial our 24-hour hotline and register a Yes vote.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

 

Political satire is funny, but it also causes cynicism and apathy

Yasmin Alibhai Brown
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links