Wednesday, August 08, 2007


(This story is in response to the June assignment where we are asked to write a children's story.)

Once upon a time (all the best stories begin in this way, O best beloved) there lived a princess. She wasn’t really a princess, but her Daddy had made so much money in building hotels and investing the proceeds that she was one of the richest little girls in the whole wide world.

So, naturally, she thought that she was a princess. She was ever so pretty, with long hair that was blonde for most of the time and she wore the shortest dresses imaginable because (I’m sorry to say) she was rather vain about her legs, which really were rather nice.

The fact that she had about as many brains as the average frog didn’t matter so much because she was so very rich; and in any case she was always hoping one day to meet a real frog who might, just possibly, might turn into the artist formerly known as Prince.

In the same country there was also a real prince – handsome as all-get-out. (He has nothing to do with this story but I have to mention him otherwise I might be accused of being sexist). If you do not know what being sexist means, you will learn all about it when you grow up.

One day the beautiful princess was rather naughty!

She went to a party in her new car (she was allowed to drive the car because she was so rich) and she drank too much fizzy lemonade. And then she tried to drive her car home.

Of course, Mr Plod the Policeman saw her!

“You’re a bad girl!” he said, wagging his finger at her “to try and drive a car when your tummy is full of fizz.”

But – what do you think? – the next day she did it again! And the next day as well! Wasn’t she a naughty girl?

Mr Plod the Policeman was very cross.

“You must go to the lock-up” he said, “until you learn to behave better. And you must not drive a car again for at least a week.”

The beautiful princess was very cross. “No, I don’t want to go to the lock-up!” she said, stamping her little foot (and trying to make sure she showed as much leg as possible in the process) “My Daddy is very rich, and he won’t let me go to the lock-up!”

“Ho! Ho!” said Mr Plod the Policeman. “That’s what you think!” And he took her by the hand, and put her in a little dark room in the lock-up, and locked the door, and went away with the key.

It was awful! There was only a hard bed to lie on, and a hard chair to sit on, and only a very small television to watch, and the lavatory was in the same room! Wasn’t that cruel of Mr Plod the Policeman?

But that was what is called dem-oc-ra-cy, which is another thing you will learn about when you grow up.But the beautiful princess cried and made herself ill, so Mr Plod the Policeman had to let her out again, because he was a little bit afraid of what her Daddy might say if he heard about how the princess had been locked up in the lock-up.

And – would you believe it? – the very next day the beautiful princess went to another party, and drank too much fizzy lemonade, and tried to drive her car again.

This time Mr Plod the Policeman was very, very cross indeed!

“I told you not to drive!” he said. “And I told you not to drink too much fizz as well! This time you really must go to the lock-up, and stay there!”

And he took her away and put her back with the same-room lavatory.

Because Mr Plod the Policeman was more afraid of what Mr Joe Public might say than he was of what the princess’s Daddy might say.

So the princess stayed in the lock-up for two whole weeks!

When she came out, she was sorry.

“I promise not to drink too much fizzy lemonade again,” she said, “and not to try and drive a car until you tell me I can.”

And if you believe that, you might as well believe that a frog will come one day and turn into the artist formerly known as Prince!

Brian Hodgkinson ©


(The task set was to provide an explanation for the proliferation of microwave ovens used as letterboxes in the Clifton Municipality)

Damn!I suppose that I shall have to come clean, now that the interfering Writers’ Group has noticed the plan of mine in Clifton to do the public a service. But as I am now an ex-resident of the Municipality I don’t suppose that the ever-vigilant Clifton police officers will bother to try and search me out, especially at such a distance as I now am.

The microwaves were easy to come by – they deteriorate so rapidly that the public dumps are full of virtually serviceable machines, disposed of by people who either have come to realise the unhealthiness of food reheated in such appliances, or because of some minor fault or other.

A quick inspection of those at the Clifton Dump easily provided me with any number of microwave ovens such as would suit my purpose, and these were easily obtained by a suitable bribe to the overseer of the institution.

It was, however, necessary that they be provided with full electric power. This proved to be a little more difficult to obtain, and necessitated several visits to the Electricity Supply Company before they could be satisfied that the proposed installation would not be a danger to the public.

In the end, I told one or two white lies, the most crucial being that a light inside an old microwave would be completely satisfactory as a garden path illumination for such times as when the householder inspects for mail delivery in hours of darkness. The only stipulation that they made was that the supply be made by means of a standard waterproof exterior fitting, and these could easily be obtained at Mitre five-and-a-half, as we jocularly named the esteemed hardware supplier in the town.

Once the ovens, freshly provided with a new lease of life, were ready for installation, came the part which I have now to confess.

I had, before supplying them to specially selected friends and acquaintances, made a unique and valuable modification to the wiring and sensing device inside the control panel. As it was obvious that the prime purpose of the ovens was to collect mail, and incidentally to give light along the garden path, the sensing apparatus had to be made suitable to discriminating between proper mail and items which could easily be destroyed in a flash. Literally, in a flash – caused by the high voltage of the microwave, directed along a pre-determined path.

The really tricky part, and that which I am proudest of, and can claim much credit for, was the incorporation of a miniaturised Optical Character Reader into the preliminary circuit of the oven. Such a device, as I am sure you are aware, would enable the machine to read anything printed and, linked to a small sub-circuit of memory, find out from whom any correspondence had been sent.

I therefore concocted a list of undesirable mail senders who might be likely to bulk mail my clients – beginning with the Clifton Municipality, and extending the list to such as the Electricity Supply Company, the Telephone Company, the Income Tax authorities, and other such dunning organisations. To these I added Readers’ Digest, and many more firms purporting to invite the addressee to participate in get-rich-quick schemes. All such correspondence was to be quickly and harmlessly incinerated, leaving my clients only with welcome and harmless letters, like invitations to weddings, news from elderly and rich uncles, and weekly newsletters from children away to college.But now – it has all been found out!As I said – Damn! And I though I was performing such a useful public service!

Brian Hodgkinson ©