Monthly competition December 2021

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    When Jack and Jill are found – Jack unconscious, Jill bruised, with a broken wrist, on the downward path from Old Well Hill, each are separately interviewed while in their hospital beds. Each gives an implausible and conflicting account of the events which led to their injuries.
    As a local journalist you want a front page story but are mindful of the need to avoid upsetting influential families, or breaching police confidentiality, while simultaneously offering a story which touches on the interests – and prejudices – of as wide a range of readers as possible.
    In no more than 500 words report what you believe to have occurred – how and why, and to what degree each was responsible – Deadline 10 p.m. January 2nd 2022 – let’s start the new year with a burst of invention!


    Come on folks! Jack and Jill went up a hill … As a child you must’ve wondered what happened to send them tunbling down! It’s my birthday on Friday (a horribly big one) so please present me with a story for the December comp.


    Up the hill

    Popular Oldwell couple Jack and Jill Bouquet are recovering in hospital from what police described as a “vicious and unprovoked attack” on Saturday night. Regulars at the Old Well pub on Old Well Hill were alerted by calls for help around 11:00 in the evening. Landlord John Spratt described how he and his wife found Jill Bouquet collapsed near the foot of the hill, with Jack Bouquet unconscious some distance away.

    ‘We helped Jill home. We reckon the blighters had broken into their house and then followed them up the hill after more loot. The place was a right mess. The attackers must have drunk at least twenty green bottles of pale ale and left them strewn everywhere.’

    The Oldwell Argus was able to speak to both victims. Jack remembers little of the events. They had set out to collect water from the famous well at about 10:30. Jack says that on arriving at the well, he and Mrs Bouquet enjoyed a small toast of sherry ‘as it was their anniversary’ after which everything went blank.

    Jill Bouquet couldn’t remember the details at first, but on seeing the empty bottles in their house she was able to recall being attacked by ‘at least ten villains’ who ‘must have stolen and drunk all the ale.’

    In response to remarks from an un-named customer of the Old Well Pub, she also pointed out that fetching water in the middle of the night was perfectly normal as ‘it’s well known to taste better if drawn after 10:00.’

    The Manager of the Eagle in Hoxton denied that Jack and Jill had been ‘in and out’ all day. The celebrity couple had been guests of the Brewery for a short while to award prizes in the annual Crooked Man contest. Talk of them going up and down the city streets, was simply part of the traditional marking out of the crooked mile.

    It is expected that Jack and Jill will be released from hospital within the next day or two. Police have asked residents of Oldwell to exercise caution, especially at night. A spokesman said that they were following a theory that the assailants might be associates of Tom Tom who is still sought in connection with the theft of livestock.

    379 inc


    …Oh, and a very happy 21st to you!


    Thanks, Ath, though I’m not sure I’d welcome being 21 again, in many ways (all those nights with screaming babies!!)


    Ath this proper Mother Goose / Enid Blyton 😊😊 Gonna do my best Sandra! Happy Belated! 🤗


    Well Done

    Jack opened his eyes to see the hooded glower of Constable Roquefort shining down upon him like the judgement of heaven. That glower caused him to squint, which drew his attention to the dull pain pulsing from his vinegar-wrapped crown.

    “Where’m I?”

    “Hospital.” Roquefort’s brusque, deep growl was like a wolf’s, of which Jack was very much afraid. It also made him wonder what the time was. “Time for you to tell me what happened.”

    “I-I went for a walk. Up Old Well Hill, to cool me head. After what she did—” Jack’s eyes stung with angry tears, “I needed t’cool me head.”

    “Who’s she, and what did she do?”

    “Me best mate, Jill . . . she . . . she—”

    “A Miss Jillian Dupuis was found halfway down Old Well Hill, not far from yourself, and a plate of succulent roasted boar, still dripping with fat in its own juices.” The salivation in the Constable’s voice made Jack’s stomach queasy. “Not worse for wear exceptin’ for a bruised shoulder where she landed and a broken wrist. Be a shame if you were held responsible for her injuries. Now, what did she do?”

    “She knew I could eat no fat! Or lean for that matter. My House – the noble House of Sprot – is vegan,” Jack’s eyes trembled with a wild pride.

    “So what? She just cooked you a bit of meat?”

    “She did a lot more than that,” Jack said, his expression dark and piquing with green.

    After that he didn’t say another word.

    “Can I help you?”

    “Miss Dupuis, my name is Mr. Bill Winkel. Daytime reporter for the All’s Well That Ends Press. I’d like to ask you a few questions if that’s alright.”

    “I’m sure it’s fine,” Jill said, raising her chin. “What would you like to know?”

    “Right now a Mister Jack Sprot is in police custody regarding your recent fall on Old Well Hill, where he was found unconscious. Would you like to comment, perhaps, give your side of the story?”

    “Well I’ve nothing much to say, and I did nothing wrong. I simply prepared a gorgeous, gourmet meal for my dearest friend; the oldest family recipe in my House – the distinguished House of Dupuis. And with what thanks was I met for my efforts?”

    Her tone was haughty, but I watched as she dissolved before me with regret, her other hand moving to finger the bandage wrapping her broken wrist.

    “He just wanted me to see the fish in the old well. Had I not struggled when he grabbed my wrist, I wouldn’t have fallen, and he wouldn’t have screamed my name, and the piece of meat that flew through the air, wouldn’t have—well it wouldn’t have—”

    And after that she didn’t say another word, unable to speak through her sobbing.

    Thinking about what I’d learned from both Constable Roquefort and Miss Dupuis, I stared at the blank sheet in the typewriter, before finally hammering out the headline:


    502 words excluding title


    Just realised deadline is today – I’ll be back ASAP to read and muse over a decision.


    December destined to be a quiet month, I suppose, and very few of you seemed to have suffered from the prurient curiosity about the activities of Jack and Jill’s activities I did, Nevertheless the two entries submitted were a pleasure.
    Ath’s trawl through several nursery rhymes returned me to childhood, browsing through books illustrated by the likes of Mabel Lucy Atwell. (‘Bouquet’ providing a pinch of grown-up spice.)
    And (unless I’m reading it wrong) ‘prurience’ the perfect word for pondering on what I think poor Jill suffered (this such a multi-faceted tale), which earns Knicks top place this month, and thank you both for taking up the challenge.


    I should spend less time on the test site and more here. Cracking story, Knicks. Well done. Thanks for the competition, Sandra. I found it tough but fun.


    Thank you Sandra, and Athelstone too!! I don’t think I could have managed what I did if Ath didn’t set his usual bar for quality, enjoyable, supremely witty writing 😊✨

    That said – and Please Forgive Me if this isn’t the place to say it, I’m not sure where that place would be – it kinda feels like its just mostly us three passing the ball around consistently for the last couple months. I’m sorry if I’m wrong or if this isn’t the proper place to say it, but I’m a little concerned about the ever-dwindling monthly competition turn out tbf.

    Not trying to guilt anyone else who sees this, I Get Busy too lols, but if I set January’s comp and it’s just you two wonders again, Ath and Sandra, and maybe the odd someone else or two (which feels like a big haul when it really shouldn’t cos it tiny-ass) I’m going to start feeling a bit disheartened.

    What can we do? Just press on?


    Knicks, you very closely echo my thoughts about participation in the comps (and in the Den as a whole, to be honest, despite Ath’s striving to make it a more use-friendly site) but I think the answer IS just to press on with setting one – if we join the non-participants, they have us beat.
    And yes, I do know how Life leaches away time, am well aware each member of my usually supportive SE Group has other demands but I still think it it too soon to give up. So have at it Knicks – I for one am looking forward to whatever challenge you come up with.


    I’d like to try an entry this month if you set a comp, Knicks. I’ve been away from writing for over two months and am very rusty but, selfishly speaking, it would be a good way to get back into it. I’m not going to be able to manage the annual Den challenge this time around, having spent too much time with all this surgery stuff, so the monthly comp will be something to aim for instead.


    We’ll all be pleased to see your entry, Libby.


    Alrighty, I’ll get right on it. Like right now. Sorry for the delay. Ath is right, Libby! 😊✨


    I’ll try and give my brain a rattle and join in too. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these comps, but I’ve found them a great learning device in the past.


    Sorry. Book stuff is hectic just now. I do love these comps & have had several publications out of them so they are really worth doing. But …. *wails* I have no time!!

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