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Adult Category Highly Commended Missives to My Aunt Marg by Andrew Kimberley

Missives to my Aunt Marg

Extract from 'Epidemic 1981'

Monday 6th September 1981

My Dear Aunt Marg,

I am beside myself with worry and confusion. I have done the deed. I have fled from No 2, the pressure is too great. Pardon the pun but with gay abandon I have traversed half the country and I am now ensconced on a yacht in Southampton.

Please be advised that this is not the Royal Yacht Britannia, doesn't the word yacht always conjure up wealth and prosperity. We are 'itched up on the River Itchen. I can hear your condescension 'why ever not the Hamble dear', but where needs must.

The last few years, as you know, have been an absolute traumatic epoch and quite frankly have cut me to the bone. It has been enough to try to deal with the looks and sneers, I mean, why anyone would feel threatened by a gangly boy in peacock-blue drainpipes is beyond me. I did draw the line at a matching streak in my hair for fear of having the legs kicked from under me.

Coming out of the dark was beginning to make some sense and then, THIS!; A nightmare of global proportions. I read only yesterday that people will be dropping like flies should this not be nipped in the bud, or butt as they are so commonly talking of it. It is widely believed to have origins in the Congo, back in the twenties, when the chimpanzees decided to gift it to us humans. I'm very son-y, I know we have descended from these creatures, but the last time I looked in the mirror I appeared to look no more like an ape than Errol Flynn! I trust you will have greater knowledge of what went on in deepest Africa and you may be able to put me straight. Again, no pun intended!

I now begin to understand your comments on the slave trade and how the bullies used their safety in numbers to browbeat these poor souls. To blame a minority is cowardly and quite frankly boils my blood and has me in hot sweats. At this point I think it prudent to change the subject for fear of bringing on a coronary.

I do hope you can now comprehend my 'flee-dom' a little more. Apart from this impending doom I am absolutely fine with my new abode. Last month I answered an advertisement in the local rag for a position with that very same journal. I am no journalist but I can make a decent cup of tea and basically that is what they are asking for. The actual words did not pertain to a skivvy but in effect that it is what they are looking for. The interview is this coming Friday so I thought I would don my best sports jacket and have my Marigolds and chamois in my inside pocket should they want a demo. I never dally on my Grammar school education when there are floors to scrub and pots to wash.

Friday 10th September 1981

Aunt, forgive me for putting down my pen at such a crucial juncture. I am post-interview with an inner exuberance that I must quell before I burst. I think they actually liked me! I was greeted at the top of the creaky staircase by a somewhat underwhelming lady with horn­rimmed specs and what looked like a rather badly finished crimplene frock. Her shampoo and set with the varicose rinse was slightly unkempt and wouldn't have gone down well with your WI trustees. A sweet smile and an awkward gesticulation and I was seated outside the director's office.

The odour of bygone days, dampness and tobacco gave way to an all too familiar, engulfing mist that assured me that there was at least one friend of Dorothy in the room. With a short glance at my inquisitors it was quite evident who the purveyor was; a gentleman of a certain age, with a daily-decreasing comb-over and a lurid green, paisley scarf. He obviously wasn't the fashion editor, more likely to be the Agony Aunt, I thought.

As you are well aware I am no shrinking violet so when I was asked to say a few words about myself there was no stopping me. My effervescence seemed to be received, on the whole, with positive amusement. There were raised eyebrows at my somewhat pathetic examination results; even more quizzically so when they tried to associate these with the calibre of the school I had attended. I didn't feel it was an appropriate time to entertain them with my narratives of purple bruises and relentless mental torture. The result of which had laid part­claim to such wretched grades.

Fortunately I was in luck. The job is as an assistant to the editor of their arts page and the comb-over guy is that said editor. I waxed lyrically of the intricate beading of Christian Lacroix and the up and coming men's couture from Mugler as if it were my given tongue. There was no mention of donning Marigolds and I think they liked my reaction to the mention of making a brew.

At least I had someone to share my experience with. Teddy, my dearest friend and now my landlord welcomed me home with such enthusiasm; no sneering father that's for sure. I very much hope that i my next missive I shall be able to report a victory in the career stakes. I would love to think I will celebrate with Bolli and oysters but I fear it more likely to be PG and a ham sarnie. I am living rent free at present but as you know I am no ligger and I shall endeavour to reward Teddy with some sort of appreciation. Just to put your mind at rest that will not be in the shape of some sort of lewd act. It is not at all like that.

I shall leave it there M, TTFN

Love forever


Judge Charlie Durante’s comments:

“As I read this epistolary story, I could almost hear Aunt Marg chuckling in background. With such a humorous, cheeky and observant gay nephew she must look forward eagerly every day to the arrival of the post! Adam has fled the circumambient homophobia and has holed up in a boat in Southampton. From there he regales his aunt with his camp observations about his job prospects, his obsession with expensive, exclusive haute couture, his hilarious version of the origin and spread of the Aids epidemic, his poor academic achievement, and his relationship with Teddy, his landlord. All this is spiced with snide remarks about people, their foibles and his determination to secure a more promising career. The language is richly colloquial, full of puns, and pregnant with innuendoes. The judges were splitting their sides with laughter, even though they could detect a more sombre aspect to the narrative with references to bullying in school and the incomprehension gay people have faced until quite recently. This is a superb story-deliciously funny, effervescent and hugely enjoyable.”

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