2014 Winner: The George Reade Cup for Humour – Julie Sedgman


‘Let’s just enjoy our day and not fall out.’ Marion pushed through the opening lift door and stood to one side for her son and daughter to enter behind her. ‘Come on Mum, don’t get left behind.’ Marion’s mother, Anna, stepped inside.

‘Shall we go down to level one?’ she pressed a button.

‘Of course Mum. Zoe! Jack! Stop squabbling – you’re like a couple of toddlers. Give him his Walkman back.’

‘I-Pod, get it right Mum.’

‘Whatever. Give it back, Zoe.’


‘That’s so not fair, Mum. God, I wish I’d never come. Why do we need to do this anyway?’

‘Gran wants to treat us all, it’s her idea. Family time. Right Mum?’

‘That’s right dear. Have I done something wrong? We seem to be going up?’

‘Oh no! We’ll be on the roof if we’re not careful!’ Marion peered anxiously at the green lights marking the different floors. ‘Yep, going up. Someone else must have pressed the button.’

The lift then stopped mid floor and they all went up on their toes and then down again with a bump.

‘Now what?’ Marion said.

‘We’ve stopped,’ said Jack.

‘No kidding, Einstein?’ Zoe pushed her brother in the shoulder. He pushed her back twice as hard.

‘Oh, don’t start!’ Marion looked at the control panel. ‘What button did you press Mum?’

‘Floor one, I think.’

‘What do you mean ‘you think’?’

‘It must have been – there aren’t that many buttons to press.’

‘We’re stuck.’

‘We are not stuck, Zoe.’

‘We are, Mum.’

‘Look, I’ll press the help button; someone will come and let us out.’

‘That’s a good idea, love.’ Anna put her bags down on the lift floor.

Marion pressed the button. Nothing happened.

‘Did you press the right button, Mum?’

‘I did, Zoe.’

‘Nothing’s happening.’

‘I noticed that, Jack.’

‘I don’t like small spaces, Mum.’ Zoe kicked nervously at the lift door.

‘Don’t kick the door! We don’t want to break it.’

‘It’s already broken.’

‘Look just keep calm. Help will come. Someone will notice the lift’s not working. They’re probably on the way now.’


‘The fire-fighters.’

‘We’re not on fire.’

‘No, but they’re the ones that come to rescue you when you’re stuck.’

‘Oh, you’re an expert now are you? Been stuck in many lifts have you?’

‘Stop falling out! Let’s sit down and relax.’

They all looked at the dirty floor, covered in chewing gum and mystery wet dribble.

‘I think I’ll stand.’

‘I’ll stand too.’

‘I can’t get down there. And if I did I’d never make it back up again.’

‘I could pull you back up Gran.’

‘Thanks Jack, but I’ve very strong legs. They’ve kept me up for a lot of years. I’m sure they can hold me up for a few more hours.’

‘A few more hours? How long do you think they’ll be before they rescue us?’ Zoe started hammering on the lift door.

‘I wouldn’t do that, I saw a film once where the lift doors flew open and the girl plummeted to the ground through the doors.’

Zoe stopped hammering.

‘Perhaps we’re just between floors; we could shake it down by jumping up and down.’ Jack started vigorously leaping up and down and the lift gave a little shudder. Zoe screamed.

‘Stop!’ Marion grabbed her son’s shoulders. ‘Relax! Have you got your mobile?’

‘Doh! ’Course I have, why didn’t I think of that?’

‘’Cos you’re a brainless moron?’ Zoe rolled her eyes.

‘No signal. How about yours?’ All four of them looked at their mobiles.

‘Zilch. Must be in dark territory.’ Jack shook his mobile.

‘You watch too many stupid films, Jack. We’re encased in a metal box, inside another concrete box, at the bottom of a hill. ‘Course we haven’t got a signal.’ Zoe shook out a plastic bag that her Gran was holding out, placed it carefully on the floor and sank gracefully onto it.

‘We could play charades,’ Anna suggested.

‘I suppose it would pass the time.’ Marion looked hopefully at her children.

‘How about ‘I spy?’’ Jack suggested.

‘Are you sure you’re related to me?’ Zoe spread her arms wide indicating the lack of surrounding objects from which to choose.


‘We used to make our own fun years ago,’ said Anna.

‘What did you do when you got stuck in a lift?’

‘Jack! Don’t be so cheeky!’

‘Sorry Gran.’

‘That’s alright Jack. Let’s play twenty questions.’

‘Oh yeah! I used to love playing that when I was little.’ Zoe sat up a little straighter.

‘You start Zoe,’ Anna said.

‘That’s not fair,’ said Jack.

‘Shut up! Ask me a question.’

‘Are you an animal?’ asked Marion.


‘Are you a vegetable?’ said Anna.

‘We all know the answer to that,’ said Jack.

‘Very funny! No, I’m not a vegetable.’

‘What? You’re a mineral? Like a lump of iron?’ Jack scratched his head.

‘Nope. And that’s three guesses.’

‘You’re cheating!’

‘Ask me a question.’

‘Are you useful?’ said Anna.

‘Good question Gran! Yes, I’m very useful.’

‘I can’t think of anything else to ask.’ Jack kicked at the wall of the lift with a canvassed shoe. ‘Ow!’

‘The walls are quite hard, Jack. Careful.’ Marion ruffled her son’s hair affectionately.


‘Are you colourful?’ said Anna.

‘I am.’ Zoe nodded vigorously.

‘Are you purple?’ said her Mum.


‘Green?’ said Jack.

‘Definitely not.’

‘Blue?’ said Anna.


‘Oh this is ridiculous, we could be here all day guessing colours,’ said Jack.

‘We are going to be here all day nitwit.’ Zoe snorted.

‘Nitwit? Is that the best you can do?’

‘Stop! Play nicely; keep guessing,’ said Marion.

‘Are you red?’ said Anna.

‘I am!’

‘So you’re useful and you’re red?’

‘That’s me, Jack.’

‘Are you a strawberry?’

‘That’s a vegetable.’

‘No it’s not, it’s a fruit.’

‘For the purposes of this game, it’s a vegetable, Jack.’

‘Oh, this is stupid.’

‘How many guesses have we got left?’

‘Ten,’ Zoe replied.

Are you a lampshade?’ said Marion.

‘No, nine guesses left.’

‘Oh, this is crazy! We can’t just list all the things in the world that could just possibly be red.’

‘That would be a bit dull, Jack.’

‘Do you run on electricity?’

‘Good one Gran. No. At least I don’t think so.’

‘Oh well, that’s very helpful. Do you, or don’t you?’

‘Shut up Jack.’

‘You look just like your Granddad, sitting there with that screwed up look of concentration on your face,’ said Anna.

‘Thanks Gran. I think.’

‘Can anyone use this thing? Does it require any expertise?’

‘Anyone can. And that was two questions Mum. Six more questions.’


‘Do you think they’re coming to save us yet Mum?’

‘Save us? We’re not drowning Zoe.’ Jack laughed.

‘I’m sure help is on the way, love.’

‘It’s all my fault we’re stuck,’ said Anna.

‘You didn’t do anything wrong, Mum.’ Marion patted her Mum on the hand.

‘I should have let you press the button.’

‘Keep guessing!’

‘Are you big?’

‘Not very.’

‘Are you small?’

‘Not really.’

‘Oh well that’s very helpful. Now we’ve only got four guesses left.’

‘You’re meant to say yes or no Zoe.’

‘Well, you’re going to have to ask me closed questions, not open ones.’

‘What does that mean, Zoe?’ Anna looked confused.

‘She’s just showing off Gran. Just ask the simple girl simple questions.’

Zoe aimed a kick at her brother.

‘Missed! I know what you are anyway.’

‘Tell me then if you’re so clever.’

‘I don’t want to spoil it for Mum and Gran.’

‘Are you made in England?’

‘What kind of a question is that Mum?’ Marion folded her arms and frowned at her Mum.

‘A perfectly reasonable one, my dear. Well?’

‘I’ll tell you in a few minutes, Gran.’

‘Ah! That means it must be in here with us. She’s going to check.’

‘Thought you knew what it was?’

‘Everyone look around and find something red, useful and medium-sized.’ Jack jumped to his feet.

‘You’ve got three questions left,’ Zoe said.

‘There’s nothing in here except us,’ Marion looked around the tiny metal lift.

‘Can you hear sirens?’ asked Anna.

‘No, that’s just wishful thinking Mum.’

‘We were going to have such a lovely time together. Quality family time.’

‘We still can.’

‘There a red sticker up there on the ceiling. Are you a sticker?’ asked Jack.


‘Jack loves Tracey. Red graffiti. Is it that? You didn’t write that did you, Jack?’ Marion glared at her son.

‘No Mum,’ Jack and Zoe spoke in unison.

‘One more guess everyone! I’m going to win!’

And then the red telephone in the emergency box in the wall started to ring.

‘Telephone! You’re a telephone!’

‘Answer it someone.’

‘I was so close. I should have won!’

‘You should have told us it was there!’

‘Oh, that’s what that is.’

‘Help! Someone come and rescue us!’

‘I was quite enjoying it.’

‘Can we ask them to come and get us in a while? Then we can play another game?’



1 thought on “2014 Winner: The George Reade Cup for Humour – Julie Sedgman

  1. Pingback: Christmas Competition Winners 2014 | Paignton Writers' Circle

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