All the results from Ely Writers' Day - and we publish the three winning entries so brace yourself for a good read
PUBLISHED: 20:03 27 March 2016 | UPDATED: 20:03 27 March 2016
Winners have been announced for the short story competition for Ely Writers' Day.
First prize went to Pat Davis, second prize: Douglas J Stevens and third prize: Jacky Pett.
Highly recommended were Rachel Edwards, Chris D. Price, Dominic O’Sullivan, Hugh Pike, Margaret Ayres, Alan Moser-Bardoulau, Adrian Davies, Benjamin Langley, Sylvia Steele, Sukie Rix, Barbara Pyett and Marion Collins.
The next Ely Writers’ Day will be in Ely on October 15.
The next short story competition to enter is for the Isle of Ely Arts Festival. To enter, send a 500-word short story inspired by Shakespeare to email@example.com by June 15.
Prizes include £50 for the first prize, £25 for the second prize and £10 for the third prize.
Most feedback said Ely Writers’ Day was a worthwhile occasion and that the audience enjoyed the short, varied talks. There are a few suggestions that we may take on board for next time, if we can.
Thank you too to everyone who entered the short story competition. Congratulations to those who won a prize and to those who were highly recommended.
When people say ‘It was very hard to choose’, this was really true this time for the three judges all chose different stories for the first prize! However, most of the judges put the prize winners at or near the top of their list.
The winners and the stories of the prize winners with some of the judges’ comments are below.
First prize ‘The Catalogue’ by Pat Davis Lovely sense of humour throughout and I liked the ending. Impressive imagination and matter-of-fact approach cleverly harnessed to narrative form.
Second prize: ‘A Lesson Learned’ by Douglas J Stevens, Poignant and heart warming beautifully observed. Do people like Mr Jenkins still exist? We’d all like to think and believe so
Third prize: ‘The Fatal Decision’ by Jacky Pett (writing as Jemima Pett) Fate circumstances laziness but a good outcome - indeed the best- what more could you could wrap up in 500 words.
‘Flying Visit’ by Rachel Edwards Well-rounded narrative clear use of significant details
‘Six numbers’ by Chris D. Price Did we see the end coming? Yes of course but nicely written and grotesquely far- fetched but it raised a smile
‘Touch of Homicide’ by Dominic O’Sullivan some well chosen touches of observation/description, good use of local scenery
‘On a clear day’ by Hugh Pike a gentle foray into the ageing process
‘Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ by Margaret Ayres rich in tiny detail which really captured the aspect of war/home front living and an unexpected twist of a ghost story at the end. Clever touches only give a hint of what is happening but one only realized at the end.
‘The Legacy’ by Alan Moser-Bardoulaul; Eerie, atmospheric and a suitable gruesome finale. More please!
‘Flash Fiction’ by Adrian Davies This caught me unawares (presumably the intention!) but I’m still unsure how good it is. It certainly touches upon some topical thinking (particularly if you read crime reports in the local press). Cleverly observed writing style too
‘To See the Lights’ by Benjamin Langley Certainly different; fairies are not supposed to be nasty is there a time shift?
‘Just someone I used to know’ by Sylvia Steele well sustained narrative good use of description
‘Hibernation’ by Sukie Rix, a little fanciful but there is something original about it and I do like the confusion. Quite observant in little details.
‘Acceptance’ by Barbara Pyett . Very pertinent, it taps into the zeitgeist and I love the close social observation.
‘Little Boy Blue’ by Marion Collins Chilling, edgy and takes you quickly through an intense mini drama. Loved it
The winners’ stories:
‘I wish, I wish,’ muttered Jody as she plunged the dirty plates into the bowl. Then she became aware of the scent of roses, and a voice said, ‘And what do you wish for?’ Jody spun round and saw a smart, middle-aged woman sitting at her kitchen table.
‘Who the hell are you?’
‘I’m Arabella, your fairy godmother.’
‘I’m your fairy …..’
‘Yes I heard that the first time but who are you really?’
‘I blame those pantomime fairies. Everybody expects a white frilly dress and those daft wings. I repeat, I’m your fairy godmother and I’m on a tight schedule so what do you wish for?’
The silence stretched then Jody said, ‘I’m not sure. I was just sort of wishing in general.’
‘Oh. Why can’t you people decide what you want before you wish?’
Just then there was the sound of a bell. ‘There’s another client wishing. Look I leave you the catalogue and come back later.’
Then she was gone. Jody wiped her hands then picked up the book. The cover read Wishes Catalogue. On page one was the following:
In this time of austerity only three stars worth of wishes will be granted.
Flipping through the pages Jody found listings for three, two and one star wishes. What ever happened to the good old days when a gene would wait while you made your three wishes, regardless of stars?
This was a situation that called for coffee and caution. Over the years there had been too many stories of wishing that went wrong. Ask to travel and you might end up in the Arctic or a desert. A request for lots of money could produce sacks of pennies. Worse were the pit falls of real wealth, a visit from the tax inspector or trying to explain to the man from the fraud squad just where it came from. Maybe something a little less showy? Turning to the one star section she read – winning the best in show – a larger house – being able to dance, not a great deal of help. She’d never entered any show, this house was more than enough to keep clean and as for dancing she already had a cup for Junior Tango Dancer 2003.
There was the smell of roses again and Arabella reappeared. ‘Well have you made up your mind?’
‘I think so. I’ve decided not to bother. I just can’t think what I really want.’
‘Don’t worry we have a protocol for people like you, you receive one of our all purpose wishes and remember nothing of what happened.’ With that she disappeared and Jody couldn’t work out why she was drinking coffee when there were dirty dishes sitting in bowl of cold water. Never mind, she could easily add some hot. After all the sun was shining and she felt like singing. She never heard the faint voice saying, ‘I always think contentment is one of the best wishes. It’s a shame more people don’t request it.’
‘A Lesson Learned’
Fifteen year old William stood looking out through his bedroom window observing the neighbourhood activity. It was raining hard and he wished he didn’t have to go to school that day. He watched Tommy the homeless but friendly black and white cat sitting in a doorway across the street sheltering from the weather. Some kind neighbours fed Tommy so he was always around. Further up the road Mr. Jenkins could be seen cleaning the rain off his old VW beetle. He was always cleaning his beetle whether it rained or not. He really loved that old car.
William turned away but the screech of a car braking to a sudden halt drew him back. A man stood man bending over an injured black and white cat in front of a stationery car and he guessed that Tommy may have been run over.
William hurried down the stairs to see what was going on but by the time he reached street level Tommy had been taken away. The car involved had also been driven off. William felt a sense of sadness and this troubled him. After all Tommy was just another stray cat. He put it out of his mind and continued on his journey to school.
Days later William was again looking out of his bedroom window before school at the usual scene when he noticed that Mr. Jenkins VW Beetle was missing. This was strange because the car was only driven on special occasions and never this early in the day. However when two days later the beetle was still absent curiosity got the better of William and he decided to investigate the situation further.
Returning from school William called on Mr. Jenkins. When he knocked the door opened almost immediately. ‘What can I do for you young man?’ said Mr Jenkins pleasantly. ‘Sorry to trouble you sir but what has happened to your lovely beetle.’ ‘Are yes, sad it is William but although I liked my beetle and I have owned it for many years in reality it is just another possession! As you know poor old Tommy was knocked down a few days ago and rushed to the vet. Apparently to save Tommy would cost a great deal of money so he was going to be put to sleep. I could not let that happen but having few savings I sold the beetle to pay for the cost of trying to save his life.’ William was taken aback at this revelation and after thanking Mr. Jenkins he left for home.
As he walked along thinking, William slowly began to appreciate that the compassion and kindness shown by Mr. Jenkins to a little cat in distress was a wonderful demonstration of how life should be lived.
A week later when William peered through his window Mr. Jenkins was standing on his drive accompanied by a rather scruffy black and white cat sitting at his feet clearly enjoying a permanent loving home at last.
William smiled knowingly!
‘The Fatal Decision’
Jenny cleared her desk thinking of Friday on the M25. Staying locally and driving home at weekends saved the stress of a three hour one-way commute.
She turned left out of the car park, as usual.
Darn, Sarah’s party was at the Rowan Arms.
She would apologise on Monday.
She drove completely round the roundabout and headed back to the pub.
As the evening ended, Jenny dithered over going home. She’d had only soft drinks, but she was tired; maybe she should stay. But the drive would be less than ninety minutes now. Shorter than even Saturday morning. She waved to her colleagues and set off. A clear night, with little traffic after the M40.
Home after midnight, she imagined she smelled gas in the kitchen. Strange; she didn’t cook by gas, and the living-room boiler didn’t smell at all. Her nose must be tired.
Lying in bed she told herself off. Don’t be silly. Call the gas people. She checked her watch; one a.m. The phone book said in bold letters ‘if you smell gas, call — twenty-four hours.’
She put some clothes over her night things and waited for the gasman.
He arrived in ten minutes. “Yeah, I live locally. Where’s the leak?”
“It’s in the kitchen, but I haven’t got gas there.”
He had a detector on a rod, and poked it in cupboards, around appliances, around the boiler and the fireplace. Then up at the ceiling where it met her party wall.
“Oh dear. Who lives next door?”
His face fell. “Will they still be up?”
“I doubt it.”
“I need to wake them, and stop them switching a light on.”
“Why? Oh, sparks?”
He nodded. “Do you know where they sleep?”
“Mrs Foster’s at the back and he’s at the front. He’s a bit deaf.”
“Can I go through your garden?”
The expedition to rattle the neighbour’s bedroom window roused the neighbour on the other side, who attracted Mrs Foster’s attention.
A few minutes later a bemused elderly lady opened her front door. Jenny choked on the smell. Mrs Foster noticed nothing.
“Usually the case; it can creep up on you so gradually you don’t realise.” The gasman went through to the kitchen and turned off all the taps on the gas stove.
“Often happens when they’re getting older,” he explained to Jenny. “They get confused, check them for the night and turn them the wrong way. I’ll have to recommend she changes to electric cooking. Good thing you called us. Could have gone boom by morning.”
At two o’clock, Jenny lay awake. If she’d come home straight from work, she’d have been in bed, asleep, while gas seeped into her kitchen. If she hadn’t turned around…
Then again, if she’d stayed at the bedsit instead of driving so late, would her house have been here when she arrived?
In fact, the only good scenario was that one that had happened. Anything else could have been fatal.