This piece was a winning entry in Britain's New Statesman magazine's weekly competition.   The challenge was 'Imagine you have discovered a lost letter from someone famous that will alter for ever our view of his or her character and/or role in history.'

The Wise Man's letter

Dear co-workers:

Just a note to let you know we all arrived safe and sound.   Only problem so far is that the hotel was fully booked, but we managed to find a lovely B&B.   Guess what! A couple staying here had a happy event yesterday.   The baby is a real angel.   He’ll have multitudes of admirers when he grows up, no doubt.   That’s if he doesn’t get eaten by an ox first; his parents are so poor they had to make his bed out of a feeding trough.   I gave them a few gold coins, just to help out.   We also gave a little frankincense and myrrh.   I think they are into that kind of thing, being somewhat ‘New Age’.   I got the impression (don’t take this as gospel) that there is some doubt over who the actual father is.   I’m not sure what to believe.   Anyway, tonight we are going to ‘wet the baby’s head’, a tradition in these parts, at ‘The Star’, a pub just up the road.   We saw the sign on our way in so should have no trouble finding it.   Yes, I know this is supposed to be a business trip, but I’m sure we’ll concoct a believable story for His Majesty the boss when we get back.   The three of us are wise enough for that, for Heaven’s sake!


A. Wiseman.

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