My Daily Telegraph Christmas 2007 Creative Writing Competition Entry

This item was first published in the website of the Daily Telegraph – as I have a space in its blog section. In fact, it’s still there. They are also still doing the creative writing competition which I entered a few times and ended up in the top six out of twenty or thirty entrants about half the times I did it. Including this one, the first one I ever did, back in Christmas 2007, which appealed to the judges although intentionally written in broken English. It addresses the cross-European culture that was emerging in some British firms that had been employing many Polish migrant workers. This is less topical today now that half of them have gone back to Poland and the remainder are more assimilated into British ways by now, but at the time the piece seemed quite topical and people liked it.

The rules of this competition were (I haven’t entered for some time as the vagaries of the website put me off it in the end, so I don’t know if they still use the same rules) 1500 words, short story or poem, using the general theme that last year’s winner gave, and also using a series of words suggested by last time’s winner. I cannot remember which words they actually were for this one.

Here goes:

Christmas Creative Writing Last Minute Entry
Tuesday, December 11, 2007, 04:27 AM GMT [General]

(I saw this competition only today, and so decided that there was no harm of a new member in this space having go at it, even if only to make numbers up, and so, with only a few hours left before terminating, I embark on my maximum 1,500 words… )

“A Polished Party Piece Performance” – by Viktor D. Huliganov

Polish team members singing their rendition at the party

“Danuta, could you come in my office for moment, please?” asked John Grice, Director of Production, and the Polish PA, a maximum version of Michelle Pfeiffer, complied without unnecessary delays.

„Danuta please to tell me, how is preparation for Christmas party, that I gave you organisation for? I’m worried that the town’s venuses are all getting booked off!”

„No worrying, Mr John” announced sturdy PA, „I already book the Wheatsheaf Centre for day of party, and we got cattering line up for all members of stuff and their seconds. Here is menu of Christmassy fayre what we gonna eat on party, and drink too. Includes glogg, what is mould wine from IKEA.”

„Well thank you, Danuta. I have to say I am impressed by your competencies. Last year your ancestor Miroslawa make literally ear of pig from organisation, was no more the freehall and we all end in the Pizza Hut. This is really great planning, I’m so happy with you now.”

„Thanks, Mr John!” said Danuta, who had never been praised for work in the old country, and was still finding hard come to terms with strange Anglo-Saxon custom. She thought before at beginning maybe he praise work in order to flit with her, but to her crestfallenness she see in the mean time that he also praise the men workers, so resigned to fact that is a simple courtesy, unfortunately.

„But, Danuta, we still have to think about what entertainment will be is English tradition to have maybe carol singing or a competition at office party. Last year, Miroslawa make big mistake, she do Christmas creative writing competition, and as half of our staff is Polish now, since your country join the EU, that meant half of them could not make a story or poem in nice English, and was very boring for them getting left out of all the prizes when they had done all the work for our profit. Can you think of what could be this year?”

Danuta think for minute, and scratch her larger version of Michelle Pfeiffer’s head.

„Maybe carol singing competition, where each employee have to get up and sing same carol. The English workers sing words in English, the Polish workers sing same carol words in Polish”, and best singing is getting a prize.”

„Brilliant idea!” shouted John Grice beating his hand on the table „only I will add a turn of the screw, like Henry James, great American author: we will make the Polish staff sing the English lyrics and the English staff will have to learn the Polish lyrics and say them from memory. The best result of either side is getting prize, and that way is fair, and also you guys can get your own back after getting left out last year.”

„Okay! I like this idea!” screamed Danuta, clapping her hands before her slightly immodest dress with rapture. „Only, I can’t think of any carols what is the same in Polish and English we got our own carols and they are different to your ones.”

“What a pity. Isn’t there even one the same? Check on the internet, and get back to me in one hour, and while you are at, please check for me latest news on telegraph website, is more updated times in day than other newspaper sites, you know.”

One hour later, to the second, Danuta makes knock-knock on door of Director Grice’s office again.

„Did you find any carols that are same for Polish and English?” he asked.

„Only one, I afraid. Is only one.”

„It is enough! What is it?”

„It is ‘Cicha Noc’ you call it Silent Night. In fact it is German carol, ‘Stille Nacht’, in original.”

„Ah yes, „Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht”. I remember this from management school” says John. Good. We will make the English team members all learn the Polish lyrics and the Polish team members will learn the English lyrics. One by one they will try to recite into microphone, and you will judge the winner, ok.?”

„OK., but I will be taking part in the English one?”

„Yes, Danuta, I’ll pick the winner of that one. But there will be a prize for each person brave enough to stand up and do it. We will put little gifts into a big stocking, and each contestant will draw one out after finishing his or her recital.”

„What is a stocking?”

„It’s …. It’s …” John Grice is thinking how to explain and then says „It’s what you’ve got on your legs, Danuta.”

„Rajstopy! Aha.” Thinks Danuta, to herself. „So he is noticing my legs, I see, after all. This that I am always coming to office in short skirt could be paying interests in the end!” She giggles a little in encouraging way, and says „I see you have the eye for ladies’ fashions, Mr John?”

„Not really” he replies, slightly embarrassed with the retarded understanding of the potential indelicacy of his lexical explanation. „I like to keep up to date with male fashions, so as not to dress out of date.”

„All ladies here say, you are best dressed man in whole company, Mr John”.

“I’m glad they don’t add ‘and the fastest’!” quipped John Grice, tragically not aware of how these comments could be misconstructed by his Polish coworker later on. Not that she had in mind to complain about harrassment this was to be his own role, not hers, but this was only in New Year and so not for this story. Suffice to say, like Shakespeare’s Iago in reverse gear, tis the male strumpet’s plage not to beguile many, and not be beguiled by one. In fact, John Grice had indeed had office romances with more than one of his female coworkers, but he make this in cereal fashion, so that one leaves company, and then year later he takes next one. Always they leave the company, and always a few months after romance begins, and always Mr John Grice cannot do anything about it, and always he is ending the relationship a month or so later. He doesn’t end them, he simply no longer pursues them, and when they call him he is saying how much more busy company got since they left, so he got no time on his hands. But for him this expanded version of Jack Nicholson co-star is not candidate for office romance. First is his direct PA, which is off-limits and no-go area, and second she have the legs in the stockings what make sure that the stockings will be big enough to put in presents for whole of staff. In fact, Danuta come from farm in east Poland not far from Warka and her ideas of a nice legs she get from pigs’ trotters hanging in the smoke-house of her uncle.

Mr Director John Grice looked up and caught the flirtatious gaze of this amorous party-planning PA, and try to bring subject topic back on tracks. „Okay, let me try to read the Polish words. You can give me some help with that. The English workers on the shop floor will be cribbing off their Polish colleagues and vice versa in fact it will be great way to make integration in team and understand one another’s cultures, as well as see what we got in common! Let me read the words.”

Here is what Mr Grice saw on paper before his eyes:

Cicha noc, swieta noc,
Pokoj niesie ludziom wszem,
A u zlobka Matka Swieta
Czuwa sama usmiechnieta,
Nad Dzieciatka snem, nad Dzieciatka snem

„Right, let me try and read it. ‘Sitcha nock, sweata nock'”

„That’s ‘Cheeha notts, shwenta notts'”

„Cheetah notts, schenka notts, Pokodge neezy…”

„Pokuy nyesheh loodgiom vshem”

„Pokoy nyeshy loodgium shem” parroted Grice inaccurately, „Ay you slobbiker matka..”

„Hee hee! No!! Ah oo zhwoopka…”

„You what?”


„Unbelievable!! You’ve got to be kidding me! I’m beginning to think this is a bit of tall order after all.”

But in fact they stuck out their necks and they did this, and it was all wight christmas on the night, as saying goes. Whole team, both the Polish half and the British half, tried to say in other language in the Christmas party first verse of „Silent Night”, everyone got prize, with special prize for winner, and special bobby prize for looser, who got to keep the stockings, and yes, you guessed it, was Mr Director Grice himself got this sexy accolade and remembrance of his fine competent but not too fit PA, who left company in love and in tears only six weeks later.

Thank you for listen to Christmas Creative Writing Effort by Viktor Dmitrievitch Huliganov!

Your thoughts welcome, by all mean reply also to other community members!