Winner Announcement | Hairpin Tarpaulin Award


As the holiday season draws to a close we celebrated our own milestone. The What We Talk About When We Talk About Love Award drew a record number of entrants. And while we’re busy working through the hundreds of incredible stories, everyone at NiTH is staying cool under pressure.

Just like our first award for 2016.

The Hairpin Tarpaulin Award asked writers to create stories about hosts that remain calm under pressure.  So What makes a great host, is there some secret to it? A bit of magic to the mix? As Cam Dang pointed out it in Magic Hot Pot

she’s not telling anyone, because some secrets are so simple they’re like tricks – the moment revealed, they lose their magic.

Magic played a more central role for Vannessa Ho, returning to the NiTH short list after a short hiatus with The Host

I sighed. Instead of summoning a unicorn, of course Dad had to go ahead and get a Bunyip.


But it wasn’t all spells and secrets. Chemistry played a big role in the short list as well. Lydia Trethewey gathered an assortment of less than savory fellows for Just Desserts, showing that family, whether it’s by blood or friendship, can still be poison:

Sniper is wearing all black, as per usual, but has removed his mask for the occasion. I feel his beady eyes on my chest and anger boils in my stomach.

Beside him sits Meltdown, sporting the classic mad-scientist look, in his formal lab coat with hair teased meticulously into an utter mess. His lips are moving as if he’s having a conversation inside his head. Opposite them Falcon idles with a plastic horse pulled from a cracker, his death-ray sitting casually on the table.

While Steve Ashton went even further in his offering, The Chemistry Set:

I’d asked for a chemistry set that year, so Dad bought me the Niels Bohr Bumper Outfit of Thermonuclear Explosions. It came in a massive box – it must have taken a roll of wrapping paper by itself – and contained everything you needed to make, well, a thermonuclear explosion, obviously.

Meanwhile Alicia Bruzzone buttered up to the judges with Sweets Before Meats:

“The barbecue!” Marco protested. “Do you know how long that will take?”
Bethany twirled towards the kitchen, blond pigtails sailing behind her in a wide circle. “Nope,” she called out as she headed down the hall. “But we can always eat dessert while we wait. It could melt.”
Marco let out a chuckle and unfolded his arms. “Dibs on the pavlova.”

The Haripin Tarpaulin Award also saw some new voices reaching out from the holiday cheer. Jeanette Stampone brought us the delightful and surprising Mull It Over:

“I’m sick of being a FIFO wife!” she yelled, before downing a glass of mulled wine in one gulp. “Good luck with dinner” she grumbled. “They’ll be here soon so you best get cracking.” She poured herself another glass of wine, marched into the lounge and turned on the TV. The Snowman was on. She slumped onto the sofa and ripped open a box of chocolates.

While we welcomed Heather Mercer with Christmas Lies, a story that I’m sure many of us can relate to, once the dust has settled from another Christmas bash:

Wayne (father-in-law) reached for some Buhja mix.
‘What sort of fellow is he?’ he asked, looking towards a young Indian man who had come with Kirsten (niece). ‘A curry-muncher?’
Oh the horror. I’m just going to ignore that.
‘Turns their skin yellow that Indian food,’ Wayne grumbled.
Sally glanced over to Rani and Kirsten.
They hadn’t heard. Christmas miracle.
Wayne reached for more Buhja mix. ‘Mmmm. Delicious. What is it?’
‘Don’t know,’ she said.
What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

Winner Announcement

Keeping calm under pressure, our judges this week took a break from their holiday leftovers to send in their scores, some still stained with wine, others written on the discarded detritus of Christmas crackers and serviettes. Thanks for your slightly disgusting efforts guys!

A new year means new beginnings, kicking 2016 with her first win, let’s congratulate Jeanette Stampon for her first victory at NiTH.

Mull It Over has everything you need for a holiday story. As much as we love a title with a pun, it was Jeanette’s reimagining of two well worn characters that really turned heads. Congratulations to Jeanette, and to everyone who made this week’s short list.

A Note On The Major Competition

While it’s back to business as usual during January, we’ll be working diligently behind the scenes to bring an outstanding long / short list in February. To that end, every entrant should have received confirmation of their entry by now. IF you haven’t, please reach out to us as soon as possible either through FB or email ([email protected]).
In the meantime, enjoy this week’s short list, the fantastically titled ‘New Eared Steve’ Award.