The Stretcher

6 Conversations

The Stretcher blob, as designed by Malabarista

When we published the first article a fortnight ago inviting applications for The Stretcher, we had no idea we'd get such a huge and enthusiastic response. It's certainly going to be an interesting contest, with a huge range of writing talents between our competitors.

This week is the first of our challenges, which you can find out about at the bottom of the page. We run to a very tight timescale on The Stretcher, due to the fact that we only have ten days between publication and the next Post deadline. If you're taking part, please be aware that we do have to be very strict about deadlines – absolutely no whooshing noises – and if your piece has not been submitted in time we may not be able to consider it for judging. Details are further down the page with the challenge.

If you're not taking part, you can still join in. Although you will neither be entered in the competition nor be considered for the crown at the end, we'd be delighted if any other Researchers take part in the challenges. We'd be so chuffed, in fact, that we'll give an honourable mention to the best of them. Go on, stretch yourself.

We sent an email to everyone who applied with a short challenge asking them to send us a 26-word description of themselves, with the stipulation that each word should start with a different letter. This did not lead to as many xylophones as expected, meaning we're off to a pretty good start.

Please do not try to vote for any of these introductions; we asked our contestants to do them simply because we had the power to make them do so. As of the next issue in a fortnight's time, however, we really will want you to get voting.

Here, in alphabetical order, are our contestants and the introductions they came up with.

Alex 'Tufty' Ashman

Alex basically can't draft entries, finds grammar hard indeed. Just kidding. Likes medicine. Not overly positive - questions reality sometimes. Totally unorthodox views. Will X-ray yaks / zebras.


Who am I? Let's unravel Beatrice: Cooking for Xmas, sipping vintage Zinfandel, nurturing Guide Entries, motor-biking quickly, dancing round hallways, taking young puppy out jogging... Knackered!

Danny B

Danny: A boy (one X chromosome) from Sheffield (now living in Hertfordshire). Writer (pharmaceutical – zzzz...) Guitarist (quite keen; usually jolly ropey). Very enchanted to meet you!

David B, Singing Librarian Owl

David? Hmmm... Performer (musicals, various concerts). Librarian,
therefore knowledgeable about random junk. Follows God with quiet zeal
(oxymoron?), yet belief in self notoriously underdeveloped. Eclectic?


Dmitri Gheorgheni, being unsound, of questionable humanity, eschews yesterday's xenophobia for life's new challenges. Think kindly when reading: I parade just such vanities as zesty morsels.


Frenchbean: longtime Hootooer, United Kingdom quitter and New Zealand resident. I support jurisdicial euthanasia.
My delights consist of writing, painting, vegetable gardening, birding. Yawns? Xenophobes, theocracies.


Temperate zone variety; keep > 10° centigrade.
No mulching! Wilts quite jaundiced yellow if placed on damp gravel. Xyloid root base favoured. Airy, light, sunny habitat, utterly essential!

Matt (the Hoopy) Esq

G'day, I'm Matt (the Hoopy) Esq., reasonably well versed (lousy poetry joke, sorry) - but not xenophobic doggerel - unwittingly clever, and keen on quips. You're flabbergasted? Zowee!

Merry Anne

Quite balanced, unobtrusive female, keeping low profile.
Singer, dancer, actress? Certainly not.
Writer? You judge. Zaniness rules!?!
Very excited. Hope to get inspiration. Modus operandi: X.


Fun, Daring, Individual, Hardworking, Artistic, Quirky, Energetic, Caring, Weird, Responsible, Loving, Unique, Giving, Silly, Xylophonist, Kind, Naughty, Beautiful, Violinist, Juvenile, Zaphodistic, Patient, Youthful, Truthful, Open, Mousish.


Introducing MinorVogonPoet

Quiet woman, youth departed

meanders along jammed streets

bicycle grocery laden.

No Xantippe

cooks, keeps untidy house

expresses poetic zeal.

Oeuvre includes

family tales

rhythmical verse.


Post gastronome, younger Mr Inquisitor and very occasional column writer. Entered Stretcher to demonstrate notable quality. Keen football zealot (Leeds United), hates xyloglyphy, bad jokes, ramblers.

Tibley Bobley

My name is Tibley Bobley.

Hobbies: educating dogs, gardening, arguing, reading, writing stories.

Characteristics: pessimistic, zealous, quarrelsome, xenogenic, ossified, fuddled

Life-style: jolly keen, yet unhealthy vegetarian

Trout Montague

Querulous winkler ejaculating rancour, Trout.

Yours unusually,

Indisciplined, objectionable, pissabed.

Altogether salmonid; Drunken fishhead,

Gambles ... hard ... jerks ... kipper ... loves:

Zeppelin, XXX, charlies, Victoria Bitter.

Not manly.

The Challenge

So, those are our brave contestants. It's time to introduce our first challenge.

All you have to do is write a piece based around the word 'Shell' that you think would be suitable for the Edited Guide or the UnderGuide. It can be written in any style you like, poetry or prose, as long as the word 'Shell' appears in the title.

To start you off gently, we've decided that this will be an 'open' challenge, which means that you can submit it to AWW or PR depending on your preference. Most of our future challenges will require you to write for one or the other.

Your piece must be in either Peer Review or the Alternative Writing workshop by midnight UK time next Thursday, 15th January. When you've submitted your piece, please post on the appropriate thread below to let us and potential voters know that you're done. We will then publish our reviews in the next issue of The Post on the 22nd and allow the Great Unwashed (that's you) to vote for their favourites. However, there will be no let-up for our contestants. We'll be publishing a new challenge for each of the next three issues so that everyone gets a fair chance to show off their skills before we 'evict' anyone, because we feel it would be unfair to rule anyone out on the basis of one piece that may not suit their particular skills. We'll talk more about the voting and eviction processes in the next issue.

Please note that the Stretchers will review entries based on their merits as they see them rather than by the Guidelines of any particular forum. A positive or negative review isn't necessarily intended to pre-judge the opinions of Miners or Scouts, who run the fora concerned and have the final say regarding what actually gets into the Guides.

For now, though, it's over to you. Get writing!

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