It has become customary for the competition adjudicator to begin with a laudatory paragraph about each submission, highlighting their best features – and a very civilised custom it is, too.
However, the entries for November are of such a uniformly excellent standard that I have decided to throw custom and convention out of the window. Instead, I shall highlight the few blemishes I uncovered, since it was the only way I could find to discriminate between such superb essays – my initial reaction was to declare them all joint winners! I hope our five skilful authors will not be unduly discombobulated by this unusual approach, and I urge them to take my remarks with at least a modicum of salt.
Taking them in chronological order of submission –
Pseu – Partnership
A sublime example of a practised, confident and inventive author’s talent, this story grabbed my attention and held it tightly until the last delicious twist. I regret to say I could only find two things about which I could carp and criticise –
- the low moral tone – oh, such goings-on – and
- the unfortunate and inappropriate choice of name for the dastardly accountant – mischievous, Pseu!
The Royalist – The Brush Travelogue
A wonderful romp in the very best traditions of authors who write wonderful romps. Beaut plot, and is it wholly unbelievable? Real life is sometimes stranger than fiction. Once again, I could only unearth a measly two items to moan about –
- I would have been amused for twice as long had the story not been restricted to marginal compliance, word-count-wise.
- Obscure Jockinese dialect.
O Zangado – Temper
An awesome vignette of rustic drama in the raw, with the deft melding of linguistic brush-strokes. Bloody oath! I enjoyed this from the well-drawn start to the painful dénouement. Would you believe, I could only discover two minor factors to complain about –
- The same miserly length problem, and
- The sneaky, but legal, code-switching of the keywords
Araminta – Bloomers and Bodices
The emergence of the new woman from the shackles of corsetry provides a light-hearted background for the emancipation of the flapper. By scraping the barrel, I was able to uncover two minor discriminatory factoids –
- The choice of an illustration by that well-known artist who was famed for his drawings of women with tiny, shrunken heads, and
- The misappropriation of an iconic Australian department store and its conflation with Simpsons of Piccadilly, which actually provided the spark for Sugden, Inman and company.
Ferret – The Fog
An intriguing mixture of pragmatic council politics with bachelor bacchanalia, I was genuinely impressed by Ferret’s real-life, fully grounded snapshot of life in the urban jungle. I confess that I could only find one solitary slip to add to my list of whoopsies –
- The closing sentence is missing an apostrophe (which I stoically declined to insert). 🙂
Since it would be out of place to declare all five Charioteers the winner, I have sweated long and hard over the keyboard, gazed at the eternal verisimilitudes, drunk copious coffees on the smoking terrace with Boadicea and finally decided that the winner is –