26 APRIL 2003, Page 56

A bit of April


In Competition No. 2286 you were invited to incorporate 11 given words, in any order, in a plausible piece of prose.

Surprisingly my eccentric eleven proved tougher opponents than the usual dirty dozen. I had very few spare men over from the team, Mrs Malaprop and a chaprassi (Indian attendant) being an unlikely two. I relished Basil Ransome-Davies's 'The room was invaded by silence. Apropos of nothing, I said, -Houseflies have fast breeding cycles." I must try that out socially.

The prizewinners, printed below, get £30 each, and the bonus case of Cobra Premium beer goes to Nicholas Hodgson, whose sapristi! comes from a most unexpected quarter.

I opened my eyes to discover a butler's apron, which turned out to be attached to Jeeves, downed his pick-me-up of raw egg, Worcestershire sauce and paprika, and pressed the fevered b.

`No apraxia, it appears. sir.'

'Jecves, apropos last night. I recall the taproom at the Drones ... and some caprice of Catsmeat Pottcr-Pirbright involving bows and arrows and a bull's head ... and then not much. Oh, and two policemen.'

indeed, sir. I took the liberty of explaining to them that you were engaged on astrological research, Mr Potter-Pirbright being of the sign of the archer.... '


'Sagittarius. sir. And Mr Little that of the bull.' 'Capricorn this time?'

'Taurus, sir. They appeared satisfied.'

`Sapristi. Jeeves! How can I repay you?' `The apricot waistcoat, sir.... '

'Burn it. And the holiday. Forget Klosters and the a pres-ski. Capri it shall be.'

'Thank you, sir. I have already purchased the tickets.'

Nicholas Hodgson

`Get that pint down thee, lad. Tha's better off here in taproom than away gallivanting in Capri or Switzerland or someplace. We'll hear no more about foreign holidays,' 'But Dad.... '

`But nothing. All you get in them places is that apres-ski rubbish, made of apricots or something, and covered with bloom in' paprika or somesuch. And those skinny girls like that one on telly tha fancies.'

'She's called Caprice, Dad.'

'What sort of a name is that? And what would she look like in an apron pulling pints?'

'Well, apropos of that, she's a Capricorn like mc, and....'

'There tha goes again with rubbish foreign words. Speak English. And get me another pint. Tha knows I can't walk to the bar with this here apraxia I've got.'


And stop bloomin' swearing at me! Tha's not too old for a leathering!'

William DanesVolkov

Apparently apropos of nothing, and certainly with an air of caprice rather than celebration, a tribal elder, dressed from the waist down in a paprika-coloured leather apron, mounted the rostrum and declared ringingly, 'Sapristi!' At once the people, whose natural tendency to loll and sprawl sometimes gave them the appearance of collective aprakia gathered round in great animation. The elder started up the sacred cargo wind-up gramophone, which then played thinly but audibly Artie Shaw's version of 'The Isle of Capri' . The crowd were reverently silent until it finished, then broke into singing and dancing all their own, sustained by flagons of the local apricot brandy. The atmosphere was a cross between a knees-up in a pre-war taproom and a last-night apres-ski rumpus, both equally bizarre in a location 2° north of the tropic of Capricorn, WI Webster

It was with a 'Sapristi!' of shocked surprise that I greeted my poor friend Willoughby. By Fate's caprice we bumped into each other on Capri — at a bar on the Piccola Marina — after an interval of 12 years, and the ruin on my friend's once handsome face eloquently told the story of his rake's progress from taproom to cocktail bar — from the manly conviviality of the one (its honest sawdust, its bar-person in workaday apron) to the decadence favoured by the sophisticated apres-ski and aprs-water-ski set. With unco-ordinated movements that hinted at apraxia, Willoughby sipped at some filthy apricot-hued concoction, whose surface was finely dusted with paprika — he called it a Pink Pussy — while with his free hand he lazily paged through a grubby copy of Miller's 'Tropic of Capricorn'. 'Good God, man,' I cried, 'are you utterly without sense of shame?' And surely my despairing admonition was apropos?

Jeremy Lawrence

Two planes taxi from the apron to the runway. Audrey and Arnold, acting on a sudden caprice, have decided to take separate breaks, having learnt from bitter experience that extravagant Capricorn females and frugal Sagittarian males do not make compatible holiday companions. Audrey, with her unblemished apricot complexion. will find herself blending beautifully into the soft, pastel surroundings of Capri. After climbing to San Michele and marvelling at the view from the statue of Caesar Augustus in Anacapri, she will exclaim, 'Sapristi! Magnifico! Soprendentc!' Arnold, after an unsuccessful session on the Chamonix nursery slopes, will find himself indulging in an aprOs-ski evening in the taproom consuming liquor as hot as paprika and mumbling `Magfinicent! Mageinifent! Mangificent!' in the manner of someone suffering from apraxia. On returning, both will wax lyrical apropos their different experiences. Whose will have been the more enjoyable will he a matter of opinion.

Alan Millard

No. 2289: Hey, diddle, diddle!

You are invited to supply a piece of 'nonsense ■,erse. (define it as you please). Maximum 16 lines. Entries to 'Competition No. 2289' by 8 May.