1st September 2016
A good theme that lent itself to a variety of interpretations, and though it did invite some entries that included strings of platitudes, and had a smug, didactic tone, also allowed more off-beat treatments. There were rather too many end of the universe stories, and too much insistence on our environmental stupidity to the exclusion of all other kinds. Man/woman can control almost everything, it is true, but after all these millennia they still cannot control their tempers. The best take in the apocalyptic vein was by Phidgers, with the arresting image of human beings who draw attention to themselves by lighting their cities and then turn their backs on the darkness, inviting eventual attack by the primitive forces beyond.
For me it was the entries that subverted or broke the mould that stood out. I liked safemouse’s conversation conducted between a married couple via faulty voice/text messaging that wittily illustrated both the heights of human ingenuity (the gadgetry) and its depths (the faulty human interface). Then the Grand Idea, when Wayne finally manages to come out with it, was so bewitchingly banal. A very professional piece that one could imagine hearing in a Radio 4 sitcom. And ultimately, that is why I didn’t choose it as this month’s winner.
The entry that really stood out as a piece of writing was ‘A Different Class’ by kerrymeister. This was a much more ambitious, and personal, piece than any of the others, the reflections of an Irish Catholic woman who finds herself ostracised by those around her for reasons over which she has mostly no control, told as separate snippets of memory, only revealed towards the end as belonging to one person, ‘a woman who can answer every question on a Mensa test, correctly derided for having a problem with her brain’. No spelling or apostrophic mistakes in this entry, which can hardly be said of some of the others. The one objection that could be made is that it possibly represents a sideline from the ‘Stupid Apes’ theme, though I take the point about the woman’s experiences mirroring the stupidity of our human judgement systems. I placed this piece second in my grading, though everyone needs to remember that such distinctions are ultimately based on personal choice
My favourite entry, and therefore this month’s winner, was by writerNUXGVQHQVM. This uses a very personal form of textwrite to say a lot about humans as stupid apes, and provides a new slant on the topic. The writer manages to get the background to the text in too, via the ciggies, the jukebox & the sadness of the dingy pub from which he is speed texting. Perhaps the piece, with its ingenious code, was almost more about clever apes than stupid ones, but it made me laugh and it made me think. My favourite line (for its unexpectedness) ‘V Romantic I m N m 2 listn 2…’, which in translation for the uninitiated is: ‘The Romantic in me enables me to listen to the jukebox and feel sadness’. How wonderfully silly is The Human Ape! It is true that the piece is very short, but it did take this reader a few moments to understand and appreciate it.
Apologies to everyone else, but this entry was the one I enjoyed most.