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Standon Calling, Ep. 1 (Festival)

August 13, 2011 — The inaugural Literary Death Match, Standon Calling was a barrel of laughs that saw two-time LDM loser Nikesh Shukla deftly take his long-deserved Literary Death Match medal in a Twilight-inspired parlour game against Chimene Suleyman.

The show began with the impeccably tailored  Marius Brill, and his incredible LED- reading glasses, reading from How To Forget; a tale of Bournemouth’s elderly population and an unsuccessful magician, up against Chimene Suleyman who took us through her favourite cigarette brands over the years, and a brush with Myleene Klass in the toilets of a pub in Hendon which she mistakenly set on fire.

In a Literary Death Match first, Literary Merit was judged by a father-daughter combo Tim Wells and Ashna Sarkar, who announced that all readers would be merited for their stories' likeness to Jackie Collins novels. They said of Marius, “Your top half was 'international spy' and your bottom half was 'festival drug dealer'”. Ash loved that Chimene was also a rebellious north London gal. Zoe Margolis (Girl with a One-Track Mind) said Chimene’s reading made her crave Marlboro Red and our Intangibles judge, Graffiti My Soul author Niven Govinden thought it could have been improved if she’d been wheeled on in an iron lung, and was mesmerised by Marius’s descriptions of the sea. Finally they decided that the Round One winner was Suleyman.

Round Two pitted John Llewellyn Rhys prizewinner Evie Wyld and her tale of a man who shoots kangaroos for a living against Nikesh Shukla. Shukla told a brand new tale of a dream he had where he inadvertently ended up living with BNP leader Nick Griffin, where he was banned from using chilli, coriander or cumin in the kitchen.

Ashna loved Evie’s barefoot vibe; it reminded her of Sandie Shaw. Zoe loved Evie’s high-waisted trousers, and Niven loved Evie’s bleak but beautiful writing but suggested she could have worn a kangaroo outfit.  Nikesh was traumatised by Zoe’s suggestion that there was a subtext of a potential threesome with Nick Griffin and was praised by Niven since there weren’t enough glass eyes in literature.

The judges loved Evie’s solemnly subtle piece, but awarded the Round Two winner’s spot to Nikesh Shukla.

Keeping up with Standon’s “Gods and Monsters” theme, the finale was a tribute to the Twilight author: “Stick the werewolf tail on Stephanie Meyer”. Nikesh Shukla and Chimene Suleyman were blindfolded and took it in turns to play – they were awarded points dependent on which part of Ms Meyer’s anatomy they targeted. The scoreboard revealed that Chimene’s attempt on Stephanie’s cheek garnered 0 points, whereas Nikesh (who complained that the finale was too “Team Jacob”) stuck the tail on Stephanie’s left breast which scored a triumphant 5 points. In his third ever LDM finale, Nikesh finally took the crown.

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