30 MARCH 1996, Page 50

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Alphabet chat


IN COMPETITION NO. 1925 you were invited to supply an amusing dialogue in which each person produces speech begin- ning with a consecutive letter of the alpha- bet.

There was nothing inherently difficult about this except for that demanding word 'amusing'. Ingenious many of you were, but truly amusing fewer. Among the most entertaining were Paul Wigmore, Ben Franklin, Richard Blomfield, John Stanley, with a marital nocturne reminiscent of Thurber's famous caption, 'I could swear I heard a seal bark somewhere', and Martin Woodhead, with a doorstep confrontation between a double-glazing salesman and a Jehovah's Witness, which ends with them agreeing to swap their literature.

— Ah-h-h. That hurt! — But aren't you a masochist?

— Certainly not! I'm a sadist!

— Didn't you know? Sadists are in Room with Mr Pain.

— Evidently you're a sadist too!

— For God's sake! I'm a masochist.

— Get away! A masochist using a whip?

The prizewinners, printed below, take £20 each, and the bonus bottle of Isle of Jura Single Malt Scotch whisky goes to N.J. Hanscomb, a pleasantly unfamiliar name.

— Here in Mr Meek's class we derive masochis- tic pleasure from being whipped by each other.

— I understand. But couldn't you just let Pain's sadists have a go at you? They'd enjoy it!

— Just so, but they must first learn how to inflict pain without causing permanent injury.

— Know your limits, I suppose.

—Listen. What about my place tonight to beat me up?

— Marvellous! Love to!

— Nirvana! Seven o'clock?

—OK. And here's a slap in the face to be going on with. (N.J. Hanscomb) —Awful news, Harry! Wake up! A Chinese satellite's about to flatten the village!

17 — Bloody hell, Yvonne! Are you sure? — Crash expected in 30 seconds, according to the newsflash.

— Do you think we or something? should get under the stairs

— Except that the thing's travelling at 16,000 mph.

— For Christ's sake, Yvonne, this is it, then!

— Goodbye, Harry. Is there anything you want to say to me?

— Hardly an ideal time, but I may as well tell you. I've been sleeping with Mary.

— I thought there was someone, you lecherous, two-timing bastard! —Just doesn't matter any more, does it?

— Kaput! Our marriage completely wrecked.

— Like our beautiful home, in five seconds.

— Mary gets off scot-free, the bitch. — No, she doesn't.

— Oh? And why not?

— Poetic justice, I suppose. She's hiding under the bed. (Simon Rodwell) — Penny for your thoughts, Hamlet, old man.

— Questions, questions, Horatio. They're haunt- ing me. To be or not to be, for instance. —Rather depends, doesn't it? To be or not to be what?

— Sullied, and indeed solid, flesh. — Tempted to top yourself, eh?

— Undoubtedly it's a consummation devoutly to be wished. To sleep, perchance to ...

— Vigorous chap like you? With so much to live for? Why not emigrate, start a new life?

— Where on earth could I go? I, Hamlet the Dane!

— Xenophobic narrow-mindedness! There's lots of opportunity in Canada. Or New Zealand. Sheep-farming, perhaps ...

— Yes, but would they take a rogue and peasant slave like me?

— Zest for life, old chap, that's all you're lack- ing. Listen, have you heard of this marvellous new stuff called Prozac? (Peter Norman) — How may I help you, sir?

— I wish to purchase a pair of gloves.

— Just the thing for these cold mornings, if I may say so, sir.

— Kind of you, I'm sure. What do you suggest? — Leather, sir — best English nappa, unless sir was thinking in terms of ...

— Man-made? Certainly not.

— No, indeed, sir.

— Only the finest natural materials.

— Price is no object, sir?

—Quite expensive, I would presume.

— Rest assured they will last a lifetime, sir.

— Such a good investment — you can't fail with quality.

— Took the words right out of my mouth, sir. —Unless I'm much mistaken, however, I don't see a single glove in any of your displays.

— Very observant of you, sir. My intention has been to engage you in polite conversation. We do not, in fact, sell gloves.

—Which is just as well, because — with the same intention — my initial statement was a complete fabrication. (Andrew Gibbons) — Nicely played! Shall we have another game?

— Okay.

— Pawn to d4, then. How about that?

— Queen's pawn, eh? ...

— Really? You're playing that? Then I take the knight, with check.

— Surprise, surprise.

— Trapped your rook, I think.

— Unkind.

— Victory's mine, I dare say. Sony, mate, you can't win 'em all.

— Where does that queen go? I don't think things are so bad. —x marks the spot! Check!

— You can certainly be aggressive.

— Zugzwang, I believe. Why don't you resign? What can you do?

— A little pawn push, perhaps? — Bishop takes pawn! Now what?

— Checkmate. (Gerard Benson)

No. 1928: Shock confession

The other day one of my friends said apro- pos something or other, 'It just brings out the bourgeois in me', and those present immediately voted that the phrase would make a good refrain for a sophisticated song lyric. You are invited to provide that lyric (maximum 16 lines). Entries to 'Competition No. 1928' by 11 April.