1931 continues with Humbert Wolfe expecting a Happy New Year poem, the only rules being that it must be no longer than 30 lines (!) and must mention neither ‘bells’, ‘snow’, ‘old year’, ‘good resolutions’, income tax’ nor ‘unemployment’. He gets mostly ‘tragic sobs and murmurs’, and declines to give any money out at all, reserving some extra half-guineas for 42B.
42B requires up to 300 words in answer to the question ‘Where did you get that hat?’ Wolfe waffles through a lot of space, admonishing a number of entrants, but gives out a number of prizes, starting with W.G., and adding half-guineas to David Swan, Turbulent (referred to as ‘she’), and C.H.P. who spoofs ‘Reading Without Tears’, an 1866 manual of which more in a moment.
Here is W.G. (no relation!):
and with second prizes, David Swan:
and finally, C.H.P. (‘with apologies to “Reading Without Tears”):
I had no hat, Nell had a hat. The hat had a pin in it. In the pin was a big gem.
I did see a bad man. He did get the hat of Nell. The man did run. Nell did run
but she did not get the hat or the bad man. I did see the bad man get the pin
and the gem. He did put the hat on my mat.
Now it is my hat.
The equivalent of ‘Janet and John’ for post-war readers, ‘Reading Without Tears’ was published in 1866, and written by Favell Lee Mortimer:
It comes with a happy (well …) picture of a reader and a listener:
and here’s a bit of detail from it (you could colour it in!)
Do not show this page to Mr. Gove.