15 APRIL 1995, Page 52


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The perfect murder


IN COMPETITION NO. 1876 you were invited to describe how you committed the perfect murder, complete with motive, triv- ial or important.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a very spe- cial announcement to make (Cheers). This is a unique week for all of us (Cries of 'Good old Jaspistos!'), unique not because for the first time I lost all your entries on a bus, though one day I have no doubt I shall do so (Nervous laughter), but because I have come to the unprecedented conclu- sion that none of your entries was worthy of being printed (Stunned silence). There will therefore be no prizes this week ('We want our bread and circus!', 'Where's the cash and booze, then?"Rhubarb, rhubarb,' etc). Perhaps it was an ill-judged assign- ment (Interruption from R. J. Pickles: Too bloody right it was. That's why my entry simply read: "If I tell you, it won't be the perfect murder." ').

In the circumstances I have decided to adopt the National Lottery roll-over sys- tem, so that the prize money for the next competition (No. 1877) will be doubled, though the bonus bottle will remain single. This is a deeply painful moment for all of us. . . . (Exit Jaspistos, pelted with putrid vegetable matter.) In the meantime, while the scenery is being reconstructed, here is a comic mas- terpiece, by Justin Richardson, for your entertainment: What'll Be the Title?

0 to scuttle from the battle and to settle on an atoll far from brutal mortal neath a wattle portal!

To keep little mottled cattle and to whittle down one's chattels and not hurtle after brittle yellow metal!

To listen, non-committal, to the anecdotal local tittle-tattle on a settle round the kettle, Never startled by a rattle more than betel- nuts a-prattle or the myrtle-petals' subtle throttled chortle!

But I'll bet that what'll happen if you footle round an atoll is you'll get in rotten fettle living totally on turtle, nettles, cuttle-fish

or beetles, victuals fatal to the natal élan- vital,

And hit the bottle. I guess I'd settle For somewhere ethical and practical like Bootle.

A few indiscreet words about myself, for the curious. I am an elderly fellow, nudging 70. The name `Jaspistos' was given to me by my older brother, who taught me Greek — 'Jas' is for James and pistos is the ancient Greek for 'loyal', often applied to a slave or dog. Although half-Scottish (I pro- nounce the 'h' in 'where), I was born and bred in Weybridge, then the home of

Competition entries

To enable competitors to economise on postage, entries for one or more weeks of the competition and crossword may be posted together under one cover addressed 'Competition Entries' provid- ed each entry is enclosed in a separate marked envelope. Leslie Charteris and later of Engelbert Humperdinck. One competitor has tracked me down as a pupil of a dreadful prep school called Amesbury (like Brookwood Cemetery, 'midst Surrey pines') under the tyrannous reign of Major Reynolds. I once beat a professional at squash and dandled the infant Martin Amis on my knee. I live in London and can be seen on the top deck of 52 buses, shuffling papers and wishing I could light up a cheap cigar. There are no prizes for spotting and accosting me.

No. 1879: Horrid new thing

Ruskin deplored the arrival of the railway, Carlyle that of photography; Max Beer- bohm was probably appalled by the appearance of the first motorised cab. You are invited to provide a piece of prose, as if written by a famous author, deploring the advent of some new invention during his lifetime. Maximum 150 words. Entries to 'Competition No. 1879' by 27 April.