The title for this yearâ€™s Old Farmer Frack Memorial Essay has been announced. Entrants will be challenged to write fifty thousand words under the heading â€œMy Favourite Pigstyâ€. This follows on from previous years where there was terrific interest in subjects such as â€œMy Favourite Cow Byreâ€, â€œMy Favourite Hen Coopâ€, and â€œStartle the poor sheep back! is the shipwrack then a harvest, does tempest carry the grain for thee?â€
As usual, the rules of the contest are onerous. To commemorate Old Farmer Frack, essayists must use his own methods, which is to say that their fifty thousand words have to be either scraped on slates with a pointed stick, or done as Powerpoint presentations. Entrants have to assemble in a dilapidated barn in one of Old Farmer Frackâ€™s fields before dawn on the designated date, and before putting stick to slate or fingertip to keyboard, each takes it in turn to drive the surviving cows down to the drainage ditch and back, bellowing all the while. The barn will be lit by a single Toc H lamp hanging from the rafters.
As soon as it starts to rain, entrants can begin their essays, and must continue writing indefatigably save for picnic breaks. These will take place at allotted picnicking times, under tarpaulins, in one of the puddle-riddled fields. Contestants may not discuss the progress, content, general thrust, or stylistic flourishes of their essays during the picnics, but confine themselves to talk of how great Old Farmer Frack was. It is permitted to suggest he was mad, but not too forcefully.
Judges for this yearâ€™s competition, who will also act as invigilators in the barn, include Wilf Self, Wilf Amis, Wilfette Winterson and Pebblehead, the bestselling paperbackist who has been commissioned to write the authorised biography of Old Farmer Frack and is a previous winner of the Memorial Essay prize. He won in the year the subject was â€œMy Favourite Pebbleâ€.
Entry is open to peasants, their friends and families. and those with whom they have been embroiled in rustic blood feuds reaching back for untold generations. The winner will be announced on the Muggletonian Little Holiday, the nineteenth of July.
This yearâ€™s prize is a muffin, and a pair of loaded pistols.Â