In Competition No. 1615 you were in- vited to describe amusingly an animal, Insect or bird through a child's eyes and in childish language. The essay on the cow, which I quoted in setting the competition, began charmingly: The bird I am going to write about is the owl. The owl cannot see by day, and at night is as blind as a bat. I do not know much about the owl so I will go on to the beast I am going to choose. . . .' There were gem-like sentences gleaming here and there throughout the entries. I especially liked 'Man cows sometimes wear rings through their noses, and I think this is to !how they are married' (Katie Mallet), You never see more than one robin so it must be a rare bird' (D. Shepherd), 'Kan- garoos have fleas on the outside, worms on the inside and keep spare kangaroos in their pockets' (A. Nicholson), 'You can walk right under an elephant but not a
hippo. Also hippos wouldn't let you' (Frank McDonald), and, specially for arachnophobes, 'Many people are afraid of spiders but they should be just glad that hooligans can't set them on you like Rottweiler dogs' (Patricia Stantin).
The winners printed below take £10 each, and the last bonus bottle of Mercier Brut champagne, kindly presented by Champagne Mercier, is Bill Anderson's. Our thanks go to our generous sponsors for their support over six competitions.
The pigeon is a bird that walks the streets on skinny pink legs with a big breast. Mostly it lives in railway stations. It dont fly much — but if it does, it always just misses you except when it
nearly hits you. They have a noddy head with bleedy eyes. My mum says our auntie Nellie is forever putting her cat among them. I wouldnt like to eat one, but people say Mister Leary down the street is a pigeon fancyer. When they are not bobbing up and down they like to sit on the heads of famous people. Nelson has some.
The hen come in many colours red and white and black and is bigger than a mouse and smaller than an elephant with a sharp beak at one end and able to lay eggs at the other. It lives in a house in the country and you have to shut it in every single night or a fox will come into that house and it will not be happy any more the hen I mean or lay an egg ever again. Sometimes a chick comes out of its egg but not at breakfast.
(Haro Hodson) Our tortoise is like a hand grenade with a finger sticking out one end. Its skin is made up of thick broken egg shells joined with plasticine. His face is wrinkled and he has no teeth — just like
grandad — so he can't eat quickly. This is why the tortoise walks so slowly. Its coat is hard like He-Man on the television so that rayguns can't hurt him. In the winter we put him in a box and he gets no Christmas presents. I made him a hat from a matchbox and when I put it on, his body went into his coat like bread goes into our toaster. That was his way of saying thank you.
(Brian Miller) The horse is the noblest animal it is man's friend. It has four legs the front legs fold forwards and the back legs fold backwards. It has shoes on its feet so as not to wear them out. It is shaped like a dog but bigger its bottom is level with your face. The horse's inside is made of horsemeat and its tail is made of horsehair. The tail is useful you can play a violin with it. Sometimes the horse drops road apples they are for growing tomatoes. The horse eats grass mostly but you can give it sugar lumps it doesn't mind. You can tell how old it is by counting its teeth. It is very clever for an animal.
(Noel Petty) My uncle says that elephants are found in India and Africa but I don't think they are lost very often as they are very large and very clever. When we went to the zoo one squirted dirty water with his trunk over my brother Colin. Uncle says this was probably to pay him out for a rude remark he made about them at any earlier time which shows how they never forget any- thing for we had not been to that zoo for over a year. In the wild they spray mud over their skin. Those that don't are called 'white elephants' and these are in need because when we have a rummage sale there is always a white elephant stall.
(Ralph Sadler) A snake has two eyes and a mouth at the front end of its tail. All its other bits are missing. But it can run without legs, like water. It's bald all over, even its eyelashes, but it probably has to keep its eyes open all the time anyway because of not having any ears or nose. It's got this really useless little black tongue thing which it keeps flashing in and out but it never catches any flies or anything. The only really good thing about snakes is that they can kill you with one bite from their special false teeth.
(W. J. Webster) Worms are small when they're little but big when they get bigger. If you see a very bigger one it may be a snake so don't mess about with it. A proper worm is sort of see-through light brown with dark bits every so often. They look wet and shiny and it's hard to tell which and is which. They get everywhere but mostly where they're not wanted such as on salads and roses. Not a lot of people know that thorns are to keep worms off and the worms don't either. If your spade cuts one it's not worth getting upset as they can go on living in quarters. I looked up worms but it said see entozoa so worms look like whatever those do as well.
(D. B. Jenkinson) Our cat's eyes light up in the dark and when she is cross her tail goes fat. Her nose is like a pepper pot with wires sticking out and her paws have sharp edges. When she sleeps she wraps herself up in her tail and goes squint-eyed. She drinks milk from the back of her saucer and grows a white beard. When she is pleased her engine runs and the sun paints her ears pink and her paws stutter before she pounces and she even has her own toilet..
(R. J. Pickles)