Five bits of blether

1) I subbed a few bits and bobs last week; the first time I have done so in what seems like an age. I got my first acceptance of the year today. It’s for a tiny bit o’ word play, nothing big or clever, but I am pleased. It’s a start.

2) This week there were less people coming into the bookshop and brandishing out of print books that they claim to have received as unwanted Christmas presents. The whole exchange/refund thing becomes an awkward business in January. Sometimes you get people coming in with a big glossy hardback that they assume was bought at full price. Without a receipt we will offer an exchange for the price we sold the book at during December. Telling someone that their sister or whoever actually only paid £8 not £16 always makes me squirm. And the person trying to exchange an out of print book? Did someone buy them a gift from a bargain bookshop or are they just trying their luck with an unwanted book they had on their own shelves? Either way it makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

3) I apologise to the man who asked for the erotica section. I really didn’t hear you. I didn’t mean to make you shout “I want erotica” that loudly.

4) I apologise to the man buying the butt fucking anthology. The price on the back was in dollars and I had to type the isbn into my computer to get the price in sterling.

5) Radio 3’s The Verb is running a short story competition judged by Janice Galloway. The winning entry will be read out on a future show. No bucks, no trophy, but plenty of kudos, no?

This month is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Anton Chekhov, doctor, playwright – and master of the short story. He wrote hundreds of them, often very quickly, and many have become enduring and influential classics: The Lady with the Dog, Kashtanka, and The Kiss to name but a few.

As part of Radio 3’s Chekhov season, The Verb would like you to send us an original short story of 1000 words, using one of the following Chekhov titles:

1. The Lady with the Dog
2. Difficult People
3. The Lottery Ticket

Please don’t call your story Difficult Dogs, or The Lady with the Ticket! These will not be considered. You don’t have to use the same characters, or setting – you don’t even have to have read the original story – but we will be awarding points for a certain Chekhovian spirit. Please check our terms and conditions, below, before sending your entry to:


The Verb,
Room 7045,
Broadcasting House,
Portland Place,
London W1A 1AA

The closing date of the competition is 5th February.