Guardian prepares for annual sneerathon

GUARDIAN readers are gathering in North London for the paper’s annual literary sneerathon.

From Islington to Primrose Hill people who think they are better than you because you enjoyed The Da Vinci Code will be sneering at popular books in a bid to raise money for George Monbiot’s psychiatrist.

Cafes and galleries will host a series of official events including the popular North London parlour game ‘I Sat Next to a Dan Brown Fan at a Dinner Party and This is What He Said’.

There will also be discussion groups where Guardian contributors who say they want to write a novel but won’t because they can’t will talk about how popular novels are killing literature by encouraging millions of people to read books.

Event director Tom Logan said: “We’ll have a panel of academics dismissing Dan Brown’s theories about symbolism in art and then we’ll play a game where someone reads out a paragraph from one of his novels and you have to guess which words were in italics.”

Stephen Malley, a Guardian reader from Highgate, said: “Popular fiction is just a load of stuff that happens. Proper novels should be a series of stilted conversations and semi-internalised dream sequences that reveal a series of interwoven themes about the need to rebalance globalisation in favour of the developing world.”

Emma Bradford, from Clerkenwell, added: “I actually enjoyed The Da Vinci Code but of course it was in much the same way as one would enjoy a Constable painting or a Steven Spielberg film or a Cornish pastie.”

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One Woman's Week: Caster And Bollocks

By Karen Fenessey

PEOPLE often say to me 'Karen, you've got some balls!' They put the emphasis on the word 'some' meaning that I am a woman to be reckoned with. However, for poor Caster Semenya, the people saying it are doctors and they put the emphasis on the 'balls' part. But I believe Caster could learn a valuable lesson from this hiccup, as could we all.

It is said that 'sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me' – even when the names are things like 'speedy munter' and 'sweaty-bollocked sprint fuck'. When people called Barack Obama a 'stoopid n****r', he just rose above it like a real man and that's exactly what Caster needs to do. There's still time to 'Jade' this whole thing yet. Just because her Olympic dream is over doesn't mean to say it's the end: there could be a new exciting avenue for her in the lesbian market, just like there was for Jane Torville.  Or she could get a job in a sport where questionable gender is actually an advantage, such as a jockey. It could be like Outkast in the video for Hey Ya. Sometimes I think I should be a life coach.

And there are implications for the rest of us too. In fact, one of my own life's mysteries has been solved in the wake of Caster's problem. I played Goal Keeper for my university netball team and without wanting to draw attention to myself, my weekly performances were the stuff of legend. So it was only right that I coached my P2 girls in this valuable skill.  But one girl, Hannah Gunn, somehow managed to get one past me as I demonstrated my defensive skills. I was never able to explain this until now. It's true I'd had my eye on her since the incident took place and yesterday, while the other girls were eating Quavers and minirolls for lunch, I saw her tucking into a 'Scotch' egg. Have you ever seen a woman doing such a thing? I didn't need any more proof: that girl's genes don't bear thinking about. If we can gender test at will in the world of athletics, then why can't we do it in schools? It’s only fair to the child involved, not to mention the other kids and teachers who are being unfairly overcome on the playing fields and checked out in the showers.

I think the BBC should lead by example in this scheme and start making gender testing more routine. They could start with Colin Jackson. I for one would be interested in the outcome. It's about time people like Caster and Colin were just allowed to be themselves. Like Christina Aguilera told us, 'I am beautiful in every single way'. Her beauty should be an inspiration to us all.