Arthur Marshall started this after the war, and I’ll play it by his rules: it’s all about the total amount of cash accumulated during the year. The Week-end Review was sixpence a week, so £1.6s.0d would have helped you break even.
Twenty-two judges have judged 40 competitions, or, more properly, 80 (two a week). In that time, ninety-four people have won prizes, assuming there are no duplicates because of pseudonyms (a big ‘assuming’). Many more have been part-quoted or commended (none more so without winning than the indefatigably luckless T.E.Casson, with whom I am starting to become a little obsessed!). Of the ninety-four, about a fifth (twenty in all) are represented only by initials. A further thirty-one are represented by pseudonyms – so slightly more than half are not identifiable by name (R.G.Brett/R.J.Brett/R.J.B may be confusing these numbers). Only fourteen are definitely female, but the letters make it hard to tell. The age range runs from under 20 to over 70, with a bias towards those aged about 30.
Samuel Courtauld and William Jowitt have lashed out (or so I make it) £157 12s 0d over the year (well, 40 of the 42 weeks).
When you have that many judges – compare the New Statesman or The Spectator today – it seems likely that you’ll get more winners, but actually, the repetition of names is surpisingly impressive – and all this given that we know that some competitions have had up to a hundred entrants. But enough beating about the bush. Who is the victor or victrix ludorum for 1930?
Here are the frontrunners, the leader being all the more noteworthy for having won all his victories in the first fourteen competitions (he isn’t finished yet, by the way).
1. Seacape 8 victories £10 16s 3d
2. Pibwob 7 victories £8 18s 6d
3. H.C.M. 7 victories £7 17s 6d
4. James Hall 7 victories £7 7s 0d
5. R.J. Brett 4 victories £5 15s 6d
6. Lester Ralph 4 victories £4 14s 6d
7. J.W.Pepper 2 victories £4 4s 0d
and there is a small group of 8= all on £3 3s 0d –
and James Hughes, although in his case, only because he won Nancy Royde-Smith’s three guineas.
Three of the five competitors who signed the congratulatory letter are here (the fourth, Valimus, is just adrift, and the fifth has won nothing).
When Arthur Marshall first published his (sometimes wrongly-counted!) honours boards, he commented that no-one knew who was really behind these names, and added ‘It is time for another dinner’. I’ve obviously been in this game at the wrong end of the century, because I know of no dinners having taken place, although we did all get invited to the launch of Never Rub Bottoms With A Porcupine in 1979. But as you’ll see as we go through 1931, a dinner was something that the competitors themselves had in mind …
Competitions 41A and 41B
In Competition 41A, James Bone asked for a ‘chanty’ (i.e. a shanty) for workmen to sing as they hoist Eros into place – Eros had been removed from Piccadilly Circus while work was being undertaken by the L.C.C. and on the underground. His report sets the tone for the January judges. people can’t do sea-shanties, he complains, and very grudgingly gives Olric (a new name) the first prize and Gertrude Pitt the second.
The epitaphs on 1930 for 41B he has requested are considered lamentable. But W. Hodgson Burnet has put in a special extra effort, and this wins him the guinea (the half-guinea being completely withheld).