The latest challenge was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s phenomenally successful memoir Eat, Pray, Love. Competitors were invited to choose a well-known figure, past or present, invent a three-verb title they felt would be appropriate for the memoir, and provide an extract from it.
Some promising-sounding titles — Sleep, Dream, Fleece by Sigmund Freud, Wait, Hang Around, Kick One’s Heels by HRH Prince Charles, Elise Christie’s Skate, Fall, Cry and Bill Clinton’s Fornicate, Ejaculate, Prevaricate — didn’t quite deliver but commendations all the same to Paul Carpenter, Richard Corcoran, David Silverman and Douglas G. Brown.
Honourable mentions also go to Adrian Fry — whose Drink, Shag, Repeat saw him stepping into the shoes of this magazine’s Low life correspondent Jeremy Clarke — and to John Bird, David Shields and Ann Alexander.
The winners, printed below, are rewarded with £30 each.
Order, Sort, Classify: a Memoir of Peter Mark Roget by John Roget
One of my earliest memories is walking with my mama, my mother, my maternal parent in the park when I was five, and I remarked: ‘Look at the birds — they are pretty, attractive, blue.’ ‘No, no,’ she exclaimed, expostulated, cried out, SEE ejaculate, ‘they are indeed blue, but that is not a synonym. Think how that would hurt, dismay, distress, irritate, bother SEE aggrieve, anger, your dear papa, father, male parent.’ I think it was at that tender age that I (and later my brother, fraternal relative, sibling) came to realise just how much influence our beloved progenitor, paterfamilias, head-of-household would have on us. ‘You will one day realise, understand, grasp, comprehend,’ my mother continued, proceeded, went on, just what a benefit, a goldmine, a treasure-chest, a thesaurus your papa’s collection of words will be. If only he could think of a good title for his book…’.
State. Restate. Reiterate. by Dan Brown
On the fateful morning when fate made its fateful intervention, my eyes flickered to the longcase clock in its long case, faithfully telling the time. It told me the time was now.
I unlapped the top of my laptop to reveal the keys on the keyboard and keyed in the first few words of this memorable memoir, fingering it with my fingers as I digitally remembered.
I allowed myself a moment to recall for a moment the phone call that had initiated the beginning of this undertaking before I undertook it. How I lifted the phone to my left ear, that being the rightest for the purpose of listening and listened while the caller, who had telephoned me, asked me over and over — ‘Dan, how the hell do you manage to churn out this stuff?’ I decided that he deserved an answer and this response is my reply.
Drill, Woof, Drool by Ivan Petrovich Pavlov
Buzz, buzz: write, write. My reputation, alas, seems to be dogged by false assumptions – for instance, that I dinged every Rover into dribbling. Such a cretinous view! — the automatic, knee-jerk response of lazy journalists, slack researchers. The facts are, buzz, 1. I had a system, and 2. Everything has a system. I woke to my alarm, and wore a suitable habit (a white coat) daily. I found my laboratory work stimulating: it gave me a constant buzz. Write more? I shall. I set about my research into free will (poppycock) with the precision of a metronome. Excuse me while I slaver over my memoir. Like all artefacts, it is an elaborate mechanism, responding to the presence of pens, pencils, ink. Reflex reflux: it all spills out, is somehow predictable. And as for the fools, Marx, Lenin and so on? The names ring a bell.
Rule, Fiddle, Burn by Nero
My Rome was well ruled. By Hades, I was a good ruler! If only Mother had been more supportive she would have enjoyed old age, perhaps.
But I had other consolations. In her absence music played a large part in my rich and colourful life; part of me would like to think history will remember me for that. Teaching Romans to face physical catastrophe through the medium of song – or stringed instrument, I have great proficiency – is my legacy, even in the heat of danger and disaster. To light the fire in men’s hearts, to set the city ablaze, to let powerful harmonies cauterise the old: that is what my music achieves. It clears space for the new architecture of grandeur, for the golden palace of the future. Colossal indeed! Critics may call this extravagant; I call it a burning passion in flames, a lasting memorial to my power.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat by Khloe Kardashian
So, like, one time me and Kourtney both ordered takeout for breakfast ‘cause, like, we didn’t know the other one had called and the delivery guys showed up at the same time and it was kind of like ‘Mexican and Chinese?’ or whatever. And we got this idea for a show where a couple of hot girls, sisters maybe, order takeout from like these really great restaurants and they do an elimination tournament and the winning place gets a prize. Who wouldn’t watch that?
After breakfast we went to the Forum for the Lakers game and it turned out I had never dated any of the players. On either team. What are the odds? And I realised you could do this really hot reality show where basketball players compete to ‘score points’ and win a date with a model. Who wouldn’t watch that?
The American parodist Frank Jacobs’s ‘Hollywood Jabberwocky’ was written as if ‘Lewis Carroll were a Hollywood Press Agent in the Thirties’. You can Google it but it begins: ‘’Twas Bogart and the Franchot Tones/ Did Greer and Garson in the Wayne;/ All Muni were the Lewis Stones,/And Rooneyed with Fontaine…’ Your next challenge is to provide a ‘Hollywood Jabberwocky’ for today. Email entries of up to 16 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday on 28 March, please.