In the 1980s, Radio 4 ran a competition for listeners to write a mini-saga. The original competition had entries from professional writers, prisoners, primary school children – even Princess Margaret. In 2010 we copied the idea and asked members to write a story in exactly 50 words, excluding the title which should be not more than 10 words.
SUNDERLAND U3A ENTRIES
Requests for contributions to the magazine brought little response. So, let's try something new - write a story in exactly fifty words, I pleaded. I even promised prizes! Is that too much to ask?
"Too difficult," they cried, "we can't do it".
But what's so hard? Just one paragraph. Please?
Standing alone in the shadows, legs trembling, palms clammy, clenching and unclenching, my stomach heaved as though I were in the middle of some great violent ocean storm. Through the darkness a commanding voice hissed, "Walk forward." In trepidation I reluctantly moved. Suddenly, a spotlight enveloped me ...............my audience applauded.
Missing you? I do....
As a child of ten, on a Sunday School Outing, I used you for small gifts. Two and sixpence got my Dad Liquorice Allsorts, milk chocolates for my Mum. My Brother, a toy woodwork set. AND money left over! You’ll not be replaced – you’ve guessed – Woolworths!!!
“GLORY IS FLEETING, BUT OBSCURITY IS FOREVER”
An excited primary class exploring a Newcastle churchyard. “That one looks important” – scrambling over rough ground to a grave surrounded by an elaborate wrought iron fence. Inside, a simple flat slab, neglected, almost obscured with weeds. Craning necks, we slowly spell out a name – Richard Grainger.
“Was he famous, miss?”
A CHEESEY TALE
A mouse that gorged on pantry cheese
Panicked the housewife. To her knees
She sank and wept. Husband, perturbed, anxious to please,
On-line with mouse sought recipes.
Sampling these delights she grew so vast
And trod on the mouse as it scampered past
So that the rodent breathed its last.
AN ABBREVIATED PLOT
The prince’s dead father warns him about his scheming stepfather. His mother is no help. He considers suicide but chats to a skull instead. His girl friend picks flowers then drowns on her way to a nunnery. He kills her father, fights a dual with his best friend and dies.
The box stood open. Should I? My fingers hovered but swiftly picked up a tempting morsel popping it into my salivating mouth. As my lips closed around it a luscious melting process began enhanced by the subtleness of roses. Eyes closed, I was transported. Such sweet delight .......- "Turkish," of course.
A little boy was dashing after his Nursery Teacher shouting ' It has to be a gentle wash like my Mummy does.’ Teacher had changed his trousers after a little accident. He was worried about his very favourite trousers with a special logo on them.
He is now a teenager......My Grandson.
AND ANOTHER …
On a Sunday school fun day for all, my husband entered the "Dads' Only" short sprint across grass. Nearly at the winning post he tripped on the damp ground. When getting up a shrill child's voice said "Dad, you have dirtied your new trousers." You can imagine how he felt!
“I HAVE PURCHASED THE ROAD TO UGANDA WITH MY BLOOD”
Bishop Hannington hacked through the tropical undergrowth, seeking a route westwards to the pagan kingdom, afire to bring them The Word; unaware of the ancient Baganda prophesy that the kingdom’s destruction would come through an invader from the East.
Sadly, his execution proved no protection against his compatriots’ missionary zeal.
STAND UP - SPEAK UP - THEN SHUT UP
Fay walks sedately into church, finds her usual place and settles down comfortably. The service begins and then the sermon starts. 12 noon and still the sermon goes on.
Fay rises to her feet. Her blind owner tries to stop her. Fay barks just once.
The sermon ends shortly afterwards.
THE VALUE OF THE IMAGE
I think in pictures, not words.
A picture is worth a thousand words, but I want fifty. So I need a twentieth of a picture. A twentieth by area? Or information content? How can I select a twentieth of a picture's information content?
Perhaps I should just send the words!
END PIECE IN THE JIGSAW OF LIFE
Debbie had prepared for this moment for years, from the day she found out that there was no cure for her condition.
Not for her a slow choking death, far better the final Swiss holiday, the short, sharp fatal drink and a somnambulant peaceful end by her own fair hand.
What is that? A strange noise rends the air in rural East Boldon. Does the farmer have a new bird scarer? Is it an animal’s mating call?
No! My neighbour’s son went on holiday to South Africa in the summer. Will he be well received at the Stadium of Light?
Christmas dawn … the baker, late on his rounds throws a bag of morning rolls from his still-running van.
Inside, the girl stirs, hears presents hitting the dorr and smiles.
Years later, to settle playground argument, declares “ I KNOW Santa is real – I heard his aeroplane land in our garden.”
He skilfully traced the outline onto the wood, and propped the original drawing on his workbench. He picked up the gouge and felt the edge with his thumb. Carefully, he placed the gouge against one of the traced lines, picked up the mallet and swung it.
He hit his thumb.