Tomorrow the results of the 500 word challenge will be announced. I can’t wait to read the winning stories.
haven’t heard of the 500 word challenge, it’s a children’s writing competition for would-be JK Rowlings aged between 5 and 13, originally the brainwave of Chris Evans. This year over 100,000 entries were submitted - that’s 100,000 children
writing for pleasure rather than playing Roblox or Fortnite. Entries since the challenge was started in 2011 are approaching the one million mark.
most mentioned subject in this year’s stories was - yes, you’ve guessed it - Brexit. But while last year and the year before, when Brexit was mentioned by the young authors , it was as something of interest only to adults - this year, however,
many of them have come up, in story form, with ways of solving Brexit. The contenders for the leadership of the Conservative Party might do well to listen to them. In particular, there is a story titled “Jade, the Brexit Fairy.” You couldn’t
make it up, could you? Except that one imaginative littl’un just did.
My interest, of course, stems from the fact that I, too, like to consider myself something
of a story-teller. I remember entering a children’s writing competition many long years ago and my story being highly commended. I wasn’t as pleased as I should have been because, to be honest, only winning mattered to me at the age of six or seven.
The Middle of the Darling Daughters fancied herself as a story teller once upon a time (if you’ll excuse the pun.) For what seemed like months, her whole being was
focused upon writing her “novel” - I couldn’t wait to read it, but nobody was allowed so much as an edited excerpt until her Great Work was completed.
This “novel” ran to far more than 500 words; indeed it ran to fifty pages and filled two exercise books. Clearly bearing in mind the advice of experts that a writer should draw from his or her own experiences (so what with Jade, the Brexit
Fairy, I hear you ask?) the main characters in “The Six Days of Christmas” were children named Harry and Lucy . My daughter’s description of the clothes they wore was extremely detailed (maybe more than a touch of wishful thinking?) though
the author ran out of steam after detailing Lucy’s be-ribboned party dress and Harry’s flowered trousers with velvet shirt - apparently their mother and father wore “any old thing.” Sounds about par for the course...
My favourite chapter was when Harry went to a Christmas party where his party bag gift was - wait for it - “the tallest Christmas tree Harry had ever seen.” Faced with
the difficulty of transporting this generous gift home (“it was nearly midnight and getting rather dark”, Harry’s teacher, Miss Hooson, came to the rescue, offering him a lift home. But would the Christmas tree (it was, you remember, the
tallest specimen Harry had ever seen) fit in the teacher’s car? Not to worry, Miss Hooson breezed: “It will fit in alright, because my car is a LORRY!”
Not to be outdone, sister Lucy had a similarly spectacularly special Christmas present: “She tore off the wrapping paper and opened the box and out stepped a dainty fawn...” Well, what else, I ask you?
It took me three quarters of an hour to read to the very end: “Six days had passed. What a pity Christmas was over.”
“What a lovely story,” her teacher had written at the end, “You must keep it to read to your own children one day.” My daughter, when I asked her, said she wasn’t too bothered about that, as she
was already planning her next novel...
Even if she didn’t keep it, I can’t believe I didn’t squirrel it away somewhere, possibly in a box
in the loft along with everything else I have never been able to bring myself to throw away. I have promised myself I will search it out, somehow, some day.
the meantime, I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement and to reading how best we can fix Brexit in 500 words...