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Coffee House

Competition: Tell us what you’d call a group of bankers

8 February 2014

9:45 AM

8 February 2014

9:45 AM

Spectator literary competition No. 2836

This week you are invited to come up with suitable collective nouns for the following: tweeters; hackers; hoodies; WAGs; environmentalists; bankers; MPs; contrarians. Entries to be emailed, please, to lucy@spectator.co.uk by midday on 19 February.

The recent call for extracts from the adolescent diary of a well-known public figure, living or dead, pulled in the punters. The overall standard was impressive and it tough boiling the entry down to just six. Those who were narrowly squeezed out include Pervez Rizvi, P.C. Parrish, Mark Shelton and John Whitworth — and I liked Ralph Rochester’s Baden-Powell doing battle with his raging libido. The winners below take £25 each. Shirley Curran nabs the bonus fiver.

Shirley Curran/Henry James

This morning I awoke with a dilemma often faced, I imagine, by other young men who will one day become famous literary figures. Which side of the bed ought I to arise from? A matter of no small import, as this choice is a deliberate selection, not rashly to be made, which is likely to influence the entire course of one’s day. I picked up my diary to see if there were any helpful precedents: during the last week, I discovered, I had departed from my nocturnal abode three times from the left and four times from the right. Should I therefore follow the right side trend, or seek to redress the balance, and rise from the left? To strengthen myself to make a rapid and satisfactory choice, I rang the hand bell to ask for tea and a lightly poached egg on toast.

Bill Greenwell/William Hague

I have been writing out the lyrics of ‘Tiger Feet’ by Mud. They are certainly apposite as far as my political aspirations are concerned: Well that’s right That’s right That’s right That’s right… I have been practising dance moves in my bedroom so that I do not look a prat at the school disco. However, the lyrics (although not the moves) may allow me some witty barbs at the debating society.

Some feebler types at school today had sore heads. I do not understand how someone born and bred in Yorkshire can feel any the worse for wear after drinking two and a half 15 pints. When I become a member of parliament, I will fit in, as I gather they are not only thinkers but drinkers. I would argue that the experience of behaving like a working man on a Friday night will stand me in good stead.

[Alt-Text]


Frank Osen/J.D. Salinger

My lousy roommates found my dumb diary again. God, I hate that. But what kills me, if you really want to know, is those goddam phonies aren’t even sore about reading what phonies they are. Instead, they told the other guys at school what a grand writer I am and all sorts of David Copperfield crap about my life, and now even the snooty old headmaster thinks I’m some kind of hotshot, like the goddamn Book-of-the-Month club or something. God, it makes me depressed just thinking about this place; you’ve never seen so many damn phonies in your life. Anyway, I stashed the diary where I hid Ackley’s toenail clippers. Now I only write when I’m alone, with the stupid door locked, which is most of the time, actually. Sometimes, when guys are outside in the hall, I’ll just pretend I’m writing and all. That kills me, it really does.

Noel Petty/Isaac Newton

I loathe this schoole. Today the master delivered back my work, as he would saie corrected, as I saie defac’d in red with his iudicium ‘Shew your workinges’. Wherefore should I shew them, when he will onlie steal my methods & crie them up for his owne? In this schoole we sit close packt, so that anie body can spie on me. I hate them.

At breake a boy by the window saw a procession of girls from Miss Pendleton’s Academie. All but I crowded the window, the littel boys climbing on the shoulders of the giants to see further (memorandum: nota bene) but at leaste I could work awhile without looking over my shoulder.

When I goe to Cambridge I will have my owne room where no bodie will be allowed in to see what I am doing & I will not tell them. It is the onlie waie.

Josh Ekroy/Nick Clegg

Played squash against Cornish in the Inter-House Finals this afternoon and got thrashed. Didn’t score a single point. Felt completely exhausted and very depressed by the whole experience. Have let the House down terribly, particularly as I made a prediction in the House Room in front of a lot of juniors that I would win easily. Went to apologise to the Housemaster. He didn’t seem to hear me, or pretended not to. I suggested that next year we could team up with Head’s House and that way we could easily beat all the other Houses, but he merely said, ‘another of your pathetic compromises, Clegg’. Then he wanted to know why I was charging 20p for Senior Buns when I had said they would be free at the last monitor’s meeting. I had to apologise for that too and donate all the money to matron’s Donkey Sanctuary Fund.

Mae Scanlan/Dr Seuss

Monday: This is Monday. Mother made poached eggs and toast and marmalade. In school I learned arithmetic, but all those numbers made me sick. I told the teacher math’s a drag, and then went home and played some tag.

Tuesday: I ate my eggs, then went to school, and told Pierre he was a snule. ‘A snule?’ he asked, ‘and what is that?’ I answered ‘Something like a thnat.’

Wednesday: Today in school Miss Jenkins drew a picture of a cockatoo. I said to her, ‘It seems to me that looks more like a cockathree.’ She didn’t even crack a smile. That classroom can be quite a trial.

Thursday: The teacher asked ‘Exactly who discovered gold?’ I said ‘The sploo.’ ‘You made that up!’ Miss Jenkins scolded. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Not me. Nicole did.’ ‘Come with me,’ said Gloom-and Doomer. No one has a sense of humour.

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