Competitions nos. 123A and 123B: results

Alice Herbert – only the second competitor since Lester Ralph to be given this chance, as he was almost exactly a hundred competitions earlier – gets to set and judge this competition. It is certainly over 40 years since judginging has been farmed out to a competitor (setting a competition has been a regular opportunity). She was about 73, and had only won a smattering of competitions, but she had regularly been a runner-up, and would seem to have entered each week. She lived in Hampstead, and may have known some of the WR writers, but the most obviously significant event had been the competitors’ dinner. She observes that many familiar similes are pointless, citing ‘right as rain’, ‘as good as gold’, ‘as safe as a house’ and ‘as pretty as paint’ as four that have lost their force and sense. She asks for replacements for the four, adding two of competitors’ own devising. Hardly anyone, she reckons, has a successful set of six, though she admires H.C.M.’s ‘as slick as a slogan’. With a sort of cheery reluctance she allows the prize to go to Sawdust Asgold (an unfamiliar name), with Issachar – a she, Herbert reveals – coming second, particularly for her first three.???????????????????????????????               ??????????????????????The B competition is perhaps the first nod towards the rise of Fascism. A dictator, she suggests, has gained power in the country, and has suggested that the unemployed be eaten. Reactions? After setting the competition, Herbert writes, her pen ‘clove to the roof of my mouth’. She’s not being serious, but it’s a daft metaphor all the same. The ironists pitch in with H0dgson Burnet, Upward and L. Marsland Gander among the also-rans. But the winners are James Hall and Pibwob, neither of them newcomers to the podium:??????????????????????                                   ??????????????????????


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