What if, asks T. Earle Welby, Falstaff was invited into a soda fountain establishment? Epigrams are required. (Sigh.)
The soda fountain had a history of well over a century, and was a fixture in diners in the USA as here in Wisconsin:
As with the toothpaste in the previous competition, something is nagging Welby, so we must assume that something, possibly anti-American, is informing this competition. In America, there were already about 60,000 soda fountains by 1900, but although there were soda fountains in London and Paris before World War One, they have never been as culturally important as in America. As for Falstaff …
Competitors are slightly ticked off for over-modernising or for punning too relentlessly on ‘sack’. The also-rans are familiar names (Casson, Ralph, Bliss, Hall, H.C.M., Hodgson Burnet), but the first prize goes to Little Billee, who is destined for greater rewards, and the second to W.G. (although I don’t get the point of his entry)
Now for something less taxing …
For a guinea or half a guinea, competitors are given a Latin poem to translate:
The extract is from an imitation of Catullus by the short-lived Dutch poet, Johannes (or Janus) Secundus (1511-1536), whose Basia (Kisses) was first collected five years after his death.
Welby has warned entrants that Johannes is a scholar and a gentleman and not ‘the laureate of petting parties’, but many competitors ignore the injunction and commit cardinal sins like rendering ‘udum’ as ‘slobbering’ rather than ‘dewy’. Shame on them … It’s hard, even with my Latin O level (grade 2) to see how I could have done this competition, but it was only a quarter of a century since a collection of the Westminster Gazette’s competitions (in the ‘Saturday Westminster’ and set by Naomi Royde-Smith) had been published in two volumes – one of them being solely Greek and Latin translations or compositions.
The only thing that surprises me is that the competition-setters have so much to set that might satirise the political world, but neglect it – after all, with the National Government now consisting of a Labour Prime Minister and Chancellor but with two factions of Liberals and the Conservatives making up half the Cabinet, while a third faction of Liberals and most of the Labour Party were in Opposition, there was plenty of scope. (The political end of the WR had already made the point that there is no such thing as a coalition.)