Competitions nos. 184A and 184B: results

Clennell Wilkinson asks for “the best suggestions” (this is a phrase he will regret) for a verse to follow the lines from Treasure Island:

Fifteen men on a dead man’s chest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the Devil had done for the rest –
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Treasure Island 1934

Still from the 1934 film being filmed at the time of the competition

Even before the results of the competition have appeared, this letter has appeared:


Mr. Owen is only the first pedant out of the starter’s blocks. Pedantry is an adjunct of an entrant to these competitions (guilty as charged), and when it comes to the report, Wilkinson is obliged to add in a host of extracts from ‘private correspondence’. Interesting, by the way, to see Seacape chipping in under his regular name.


After all that heave-ho, he awards the prizes, to new names, M.E.Durham (“despite the feeble rhyme, ‘Come'”) and Justin Clarke Hall:


Justin Clarke Hall was the elder of two sons of Edna Clarke Hall (nee Waugh, 1879-1979 – she reached 100), a notable painter who spent her summers in Cornwall, was a friend of Gwen John, and who frequently used her sons Justin and Denis as subjects (indeed, the Tate has a picture of Justin from the previous year. She had been widowed in 1932. Justin would have been 28 at the time of winning this competition). I can find no direct reference to his death – his brother Denis died in 2005, in his nineties, after a remarkable career as a pioneering architect of schools. Justin and Denis’s father and uncle had been co-founders of the NSPCC.

Justin Clarke HallThis is Justin as a teenager.

There is a consolation prize for Mariamne, for the usual reasons.


After all this, the B competition is a bit of a fizzle. It relays at length the story of an Irish owner of a steeplechaser which came in last, and his enquiry of the jockey ‘Did anything delay you?’ The entrants were to suppose that the jockey was an ironist, a student of modern Irish literature, and capable of up to 200 words in response. Popular though the competition was, Wilkinson can only find a guinea for William Bliss, and this:




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