Sport 31: Spring 2003
THE UNITY BOOKS — VERY SHORT STORY COMPETITION Unity Books would like to thank all those who took the time to enter our ‘very short story competition’. The rules were simple—no more than 500 words, and each story had to contain the following … ‘Unity Books’, ‘barbecue’, ‘John Campbell’ and ‘Salman Rushdie’. The best stories were terrific and often hilarious. Congratulations go to Christine Johnston for her winning entry, ‘What's-his-name?’ — CHRISTINE JOHNSTON
THE UNITY BOOKS
VERY SHORT STORY COMPETITION
Unity Books would like to thank all those who took the time to enter our ‘very short story competition’. The rules were simple—no more than 500 words, and each story had to contain the following … ‘Unity Books’, ‘barbecue’, ‘John Campbell’ and ‘Salman Rushdie’. The best stories were terrific and often hilarious. Congratulations go to Christine Johnston for her winning entry, ‘What's-his-name?’
I'm coming out of Unity Books, laden down, when I nearly bump into him. I know the face. I say hello, thinking it's Doris's grandson, the one in computers, but then I'm not so sure, though he's awfully familiar, the way he smiles and raises an eyebrow. He says, ‘Hello Shirley’, or at least ‘hello’—I don't know about the ‘Shirley’—and goes into one of those coffee places. Suddenly I realise it's not Maureen's boy, but what's-his-name, the young chap who reads the news on the other channel. Fancy that. I could've sworn he said, ‘Hello Shirley.’
Later when I'm on the bus, his name's on the tip of my tongue—John something, something, Scottish. Not John Brown. He's the Scotsman who was so devoted to Queen Victoria (I saw that lovely film with Judy Dennis and the big chappie, Billy something).
It's Darren, who's Doris's grandson, the one that wasn't him, but looks like him. That's not much help.
Is it John Cameron?
When I get home I give Doris a ring.
Doris, I say, what's the name of the young announcer chap who looks like your Maureen's boy, Darren?
There's silence on the other end.
Doris? Are you there? (She's not as sharp as she used to be, Doris.)
It's Darryl, she says finally.page 253
No it's not. It's John something.
Shirley, she sighs, I know my own grandson. I'm not gaga.
I never said you were, Doris.
I've got to go, she says. I've got the kettle on.
And she hangs up.
I sometimes worry about Doris. She's letting herself go, not exercising her mind.
When I sit down with a cup of tea, it's still annoying me. I hate these little lapses, but I'll just have to wait till six o'clock and watch him read the news. They always say, good evening, I'm so and so, don't they?
Well, I've got nothing else to do.
Dench. It's Judy Dench who was married to … I forget who she was married to, but he died. She played the writer, Iris Munro. No, it's Alice Munro. Iris Murray? Iris Murdoch. She lost her mind, poor thing. When your mind goes, you've got nothing.
I find my bags of Christmas books and study them one by one. Cooking for One—that's for poor old Doris. I've got a Margaret Atwood for Jennifer. I see now it's short stories, but never mind. Jeffrey Archer's for the boys. And Salman Rushdie! How did he get in there? I didn't want him. I specifically asked for the history chap, the one on telly. What's-his-name? Shaman Rushdie?
The phone rings.
Mum, I'm ringing to remind you about the barbecue tonight.
You haven't forgotten?
No, darling, of course not.
I'll pick you up before six.
All right. Oh Jen, guess who I saw in High Street today? What's-his-name, the chap who reads the news on Three, you know?
John Campbell? That's nice Mum. That's terrific.
Cameron, Campbell. That's close enough for comfort.
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