Find The Bailing Bucket

The 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest awards have been announced, and there is some terrific – that is, awful – stuff duly honoured. Go here for the winners and runners-up.

There is one passage that, to my mind, doesn’t belong in the list. I would have been proud to write the sentence that made Mike Mayfield the runner-up in the Adventure category. Far from being “bad” writing (deliberately or otherwise), I think this is superb, and rather Hooting Yardy:

Sensing somehow a scudding lay in the offing, Skipper Bob tallied his tasks: reef the mains’l, mizzen, and jib, strike and brail the fores’l, mizzen stays’l and baggywrinkles, bowse the halyards, mainsheets, jacklines and vangs, turtle and belay fast the small cock, flemish the taffrail warps, batten the booby hatch, lay by his sou’wester, and find the bailing bucket.

Long long ago, when I was wet behind the ears, I wrote a story which began: “Oh, I so wanted this to be a seafaring yarn.” Then and now, I could learn a thing or two from Mike Mayfield.

UPDATE : Readers who follow the link to By Aerostat To Hooting Yard and read it for the first time should note that the Dobson in the story is completely unrelated to that well-loved character Dobson the out of print pamphleteer.  Just so you know.

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