It’s New Year’s Eve, 1932, when this competition’s results are announced. The entrants and setters don’t know it, but there is now only one further complete year to go before the baton is passed to New Statesman. The setter is Dyneley Hussey and he notes that 1933 will be the centenary of Brahms’ birth. So an acrostic sonnet in honour of Johannes Brahms is asked for. It’s a small postbag (the season? The entrants would have had to have entered over Christmas). Just a dozen entries for this.
Among the also-rans (in both the A and the B competition, so the festive season doesn’t deter him) is the continuously luckless king of the Highly Commendeds, T.E. Casson. Hussey, however, does a spot of damning with faint praise before awarding first prize to a new (well, not-seen-before pseudonym) name: Black Gnat; the runner up is a close run thing between James Hall and William Bliss, which the former wins. (Bliss has also entered both competitions).
Whoever Black Gnat is, he also has a shot at the B competition under the name Verb Sap (Hussey spots it’s the same typewriter and paper, and winning both competitions was off-limits). In fact Hussey suspects that Black Gnat/ Verb Sap is also one who ‘left his clothes on a beach, hoping to persuade us he was drowned’. So I take it that Black Gnat and Verb Sap are actually Seacape. The B competition is to write in verse the fable of the man who gave the shears of Atropos, Atropos being the mythological woman, one of the Fates, who cuts the thread of life with shears, to the goddess of mischief and delusion (I think that’s right), Até, and what became of him. (I don’t know if this is an extant fable.) William Bliss and Lester Ralph win. (These aren’t very distinguished entries.)
Atropos is on the right: