Competitions nos. 137A and 137B: results

J.C.Squire, the most ebullient setter, asks for epigrams on the current state of Germany, so we will get a little insight into the middle-class perspective on the country. This competition was judged just before the second election in Germany in 1932. In July, Hitler’s Nazi Party had become the largest, with 37% of the vote, and, although this was to fall back to 33% in the November election, Hitler’s rise to power was now unstoppable – he gained power in January 1933, since both elections proved so indecisive overall. One of the also-rans is Sir Robert (Claremont) Witt, who had co-founded the Courtauld Institute with the WR‘s owner in 1932 (curious in one way, as it was at about this point that Courtauld was getting ready to withdraw his backing). Witt was an eminent art historian, and there is a good article about him here and a contemporary portrait of him here. But the two winners are Little Billee and H.C.M. – Little Billee is allowed three winners, but H.C.M.’s is, I think, the best:

Election 1932

October 1932 and a pro-Hitler poster (‘our last hope’)


The B competition is for Dr. Johnson’s prognostications on the next Australian cricket tour. There are ten entries in the frame (one of them from ‘Herkers’ Henderson, the athlete/ novelist/ poet who came close in 134B). The tour (leaving in late 1932 to play in early 1933) was the infamous ‘bodyline’ series (the term ‘bodyline’ is Australian press slang. The English called it ‘fast leg theory’). Its chief exponent, Harold Larwood, achieved an unnecessary degree of notoriety in this series, which England won 4-1, perhaps because one ball fractured the Australian wicket-keeper’s skull, an unhappy event that the wicket-keeper (Oldfield) blamed on himself. The Australian captain, Woodfull, was also injured when the ball hit his heart. There is some ancient film of Larwood in action here. One of the cricket team was the Leicestershire player Iftikhar Ali Khan, who was the Nawab of Pataudi – one of only three players to play for two different test countries (in fact he later captained India). The Nawab, who scored a century in the first match, was later dropped (and was one of the few opponents of the bodyline bowling).

The competition of course is before all these events take place, and, while the winners, W.G. and E.W.Fordham, manage a pretty good pastiche of Johnson, it isn’t a bundle of laughs, and the reference to ‘the Ethiopian’ won’t pass muster now:


Larwood’s ball strikes Woodfull


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