16 JUNE 1990, Page 44




It's all about.. .


In Competition No. 1629 you were in- vited to supply the outline of a story calculated to appeal to the most ferociously up-to-date children's editor.

You responded with ghoulish glee, creating a gallery of truly resistible, creepy little heroes and heroines. There was 'Lax- ey (for Lacrima) Christie, who evolves into a taciturn and enigmatic world figure, declining Damehood and marriage — a kind of Mother Teresa sans religion' (Michael Heber-Percy); Dick and his Magic Condom (Beverley Strauss); Paul who 'is unhappy at home and feels the shame of social rejection by his peer-group — he is almost tempted to become a substance abuser' (Basil Ransome- Davies); and Cindy, who 'trains as a motor mechanic. She fits a motor to Diego's wheelchair. He speeds away — beep, beep! When he gets home, Daddy has gone and Mum's living with an acupuncturist called Maureen' (George Simmers). The winners printed below get £15 each, and the bonus bottle of Chivas Regal 12-year- old de luxe blended whisky goes to Gerard Benson.

It'll definitely be multiculti. And Green. Yes . . . . and have a good, strong, self- actualising girl. Yes. . . .Natasha . . . nine. She's moved into a new neighbourhood (discuss trauma of moving) . . . father's a docker, mother doctor. Yes. The Asian child next door (better be a boy — Ahmed) has been chased and bullied by some ragamuffins who live near the Canal . . . . siblings — same mother, various fathers. (What d'you think so far?) They're under-motivated, not essentially bad. Natasha creates a vegetable garden on a derelict plot peas, cabbages — lots of detail . . . organic fertilisers etcetera. The Chogginses (touch of humour here . . . name of the ragamuffin fami- ly) destroy it. Then one of them (Desmond, the black one) falls in the canal. Natasha pulls him out and Ahmed gives him the kiss of life. This brings the kids together. They co-operate on a neighbourhood friendship scheme. The Rain- bow Kids of Canal Terrace. Nice title? What

d'you think? (Gerard Benson)

'It just isn't fair!' Sheena, the first girl to captain her school football team, is outraged when she discovers that they have packed non-ozone- friendly embrocation spray for their European tour. Her battle to save the environment brings her into conflect with the gorgeous guy she's got her eye on, the team's handsome, mysterious coach, Aziz. Things aren't easy for her at home either — one brother is in prison for not paying the poll tax, another is out leafleting every night for the National Front, and her parents are sleeping rough on the Embankment after being unable to meet the mortgage repayments on their house. Meanwhile, on top of having to deal with racial prejudice from the terraces and life in a wheelchair, Aziz discovers that he is HIV positive. Everything comes to a head when the crucial final match of the tour in Berlin coincides with the opening of the border with East Germany and the end of the Cold War bringing surprising results which lead Sheena and Aziz to make new discoveries about them- selves and the world they live in. . .

(Julian Bell)

Mecca Maid. Nasreen Akhtar, a 16-year-old Muslim girl, disenchanted with her restricted life in Bradford and the prospect of an arranged marriage, runs away to London where, after several narrow escapes from pimps, paedophiles and pornographers, she shares a squat with Wayne, flamboyant fugitive leader of a teenage gang of computer hackers, who she hopes will further her ambition to be a pop star.

Her father dispatches several members of the family to find her and bring her back. The couple share several adventures while being pursued by Education Welfare Officers, Social Workers, Muslim Zealots and National Front thugs, all eager to exploit the situation for their own emotional, political and religious ends.

As the net closes they are harboured by an extreme conservationist group, The Vegetable Liberation Front. Wayne, meanwhile, hacks into Selman Rushdie's computer and is in a position to offer his address in exchange for Nasreen's freedom. (R. J. Pickles) The hero is Jason Ninja Turtle who lives next door to her lover Marlene Mutant Jerbil. Across the road live the evil Mr and Mrs Bat-Avenger and their son Bruce. Down the road there is an amusement arcade called Daphne's Death Machine where the turtles raise money for charity. Mr Bat-Avenger is unemployed and spends all his time in the Rat and Cucumber. He comes home drunk and beats up little Bruce who runs away to the Great Barrier Reef where he meets a beautiful mermaid. She leads him through an underwater cavern into a land of fairy queens and a superior lion who sets Bruce homework. Bruce is rescued from the lion by Jason and Marlene who drive the Bat-Avengers out from Number 30. Bruce and the mermaid get jobs at Harold Donatello Turtle's coffee shop. (David Oliver) Tim is the son of a Lithuanian physicist in exile in Hampstead and Samantha is the daughter of a Channel Four drama producer who invites Tim to join them on a month's holiday in a beautiful little cottage in Wales. One night they both go for a midnight walk and meet a man called Dai who is an arsonist. He swears them to secrecy then explains that he is trying to rid his country of wealthy immigrants from England who buy smalllholdings and make yoghurt. Samantha tells him very sharply that there is nothing wrong with eating yoghurt, or muesli for that matter, and Dai apologises. The children realise that Dai and his friends need to have an alternative to arson and paint-daubing so they set about teaching him how to make an organic garden. He learns fast and both the youngsters are very pleased to have channelled his energies into more positive outlets. But one night Tom goes to Samantha's bedroom to look at her little hedgehog and finds a note to say that she gone away with Dai to learn about the armed strug- gle. He is heartbroken.

(Nicholas Murray)