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30th August
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Home Office launches literary competition for "terror fiction"

A prestigious new short story competition has today been announced by the Home Office as part of an ongoing drive to discover exciting new literary talent for its busy anti-terror communications department. The competition, to be known as the Buller Prize for Fiction, will be judged by an independent panel of experts consisting of department chief Douglas Ramsbottom, himself an acclaimed winner of the Joseph Goebbels Memorial Prize for broadcast drama.

Up to 30 prizes will be awarded, depending on the quality of entries, and winners will receive not only a limited-edition copy of police handbook Fitting Up Terror Suspects for Dummies, but also the honour of having their work professionally produced and acted by the real-life characters portrayed. Entries must be submitted to 2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF to arrive by 1st April 2007.

Speaking to an exclusive literary circle at DeadBrain today, Ramsbottom explained the kind of thing he will be looking for. "First and foremost, make your plot as absurdly complex, far-fetched and patently unworkable as you can. We're not interested in your Fred al-Bloggs who wakes up one morning and goes and does something simple but effective, such as ... well, I'd better not say, had I? No, if it's something which takes years to come to fruition, has international ramifications galore, and uses up vast amounts of surveillance manpower 'distracting' the security services if a real plot comes along of course - you're in with a chance."

By way of example, Ramsbottom cited a composition by 12-year-old schoolboy Greg Mullet, which surfaced in a Whitehall security briefing early in August. "Apart from the fact he couldn't spell 'apocalyptic', his story had absolutely everything. Mass dawn raids, airports in chaos, draconian, constantly-changing security regulations, a suitably large area to search for 'evidence', vast amounts of encrypted data (terabytes obviously), suspects being held for the maximum 28 days, and a string of court appearances we can trot out whenever we want. Fantastic effort, it'll run and run."

Ramsbottom gave a few more tips to aspiring writers. "Please, no more tanks at Heathrow. Otherwise people really will think we're nuts. And don't, whatever you do, put SO19 in the story. We've had enough trouble, thank you very much." On the PR front, he added, "And don't forget to include the speech for John Reid to make the day before the dawn raids. And one for Eliza too, the poor woman doesn't get herself nearly enough publicity these days."

Finally, Ramsbottom revealed that he himself had had a stab at the competition but didn't get very far. "My story starts when a group of Muslim students get radicalised at college under the very nose of their tutor, who, shockingly, neglects his duty to spy on them," he explained.

"After receiving billions of euros in funding from carousel fraud, they buy bags of fertilizer from B&Q and hide them under their veils. Suspicions are only aroused when they refuse to let the Council Tax inspector in to revalue their Band 'D' terror training camp. Meanwhile, unknowingly under surveillance by 3,000 secret agents, they make a video of their bags of fertilizer and hide it in a copy of the movie 'Lie Hard'. And as for their actual plans? Well I thought a secret bomb-making factory in an airline toilet, but we've already had that. Or making nukes out of smoke alarms, but we've had that too. After that point I'm afraid I really got stuck, even after four pink gins. Think I'll stick to TV drama."
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