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Hats off to all those shortlisted and longlisted in the 2016 To Hull and Back competition! See http://www.christopherfielden.com/short-story-competition/results-2016.php for those fortunate names – and for their photos and biographies if you follow the links.

I scanned down the list hurriedly in order (I confess) to see if my name was there. It wasn’t. Then I looked again, for any other of the ninevoices. Alas, no. So my rather nasty story, about a bully at an appalling office party who gets his comeuppance when dressed as Santa Claus in our local shopping centre, will have to blush unseen and waste its sweetness on the desert air.

This comp has got quite a few mentions on this blog. We must wait until next month to learn the winners. And then there’ll be an anthology – last year’s included some remarkably quirky stories. (‘Quirky’ is an understatement for many of them … ) In Chris Fielden’s words, “there needs to be some element of humour within the story, even if it’s just one brief amusing moment. Black comedy and dark humour is fine, as is fluffy kitten mainstream amusement.”

Well done the eventual winners.