Philip Jordan comes up with a complex idea. Entrants have to imagine it is 1940, and the fifth anniversary of the establishment of a totalitarian state in the UK. An official history has been commissioned, and the “approved” journalist is to write an account of the burning down of Parliament five years earlier by Ramsay MacDonald and Stafford Cripps, and their trial. This is a complex reference to the fire that destroyed the Reichstag in early 1933 – even then, there was some suspicion that the lone confessor, who was Dutch, was not the real culprit, and that it may have been the work of the Nazis.
Nevertheless, this is a difficult competition. Cripps was at the time a surviving member of the Labour party in Parliament, and had broken away from the Independent Labour Party to form the Socialist League, a left-wing grouping that included G.D.H. Cole as well as two youngsters, Michael Foot and Barbara Castle (Cripps was later Chancellor in the post-war Attlee government).
Jordan reckons that only one entrant has really pulled off the trick of being a polemical journalist. His name is Nalgar, and although this is a ‘new name’, it’s also Raglan backwards, so it is Fitzroy Somerset, the $th Baron Raglan (the 1st had been Wellington’s right-hand man, and was later known for sending the order that led to the demise of the Light Brigade in the Crimea). The fourth baron, however, was known as a beekeeper, an anthropologist (the first to compile a dictionary from English to the language of South Sudan when stationed there in World War One), and also as the writer in 1936, of a book that identified the archetypes of a hero – somewhat in advance of Joseph Campbell’s less penetrable study.
Lady Houston was the owner by now of The Saturday Review, the magazine abandoned by Barry and his staff to found the WR. The runner-up is T.E. Casson (on his best streak since the competitions began).
The B competition takes a Morning Post headline, ‘A Thousand Years of Tradition Can’t Be Wrong’ and asks for nine further fatuities of the English Language. One of the runners-up is Ellen Sophia Bosanquet, the daughter of the historian Thomas Hodgkin, and the wife of Robert Carr Bosanquet, an eminent Aegean archaelogist (1871-1935). His wife, who also wrote about Greece, lived on until 1970, and one of their daughters helped published a highly regarded collection of her mother’s letters, poems, and autobiography, Late Harvest. Ellen herself published a collection, in 1938, of her husband’s letters and light verse, so the attraction of the competition to both is clear.
Guy Innes wins the guinea after a lot of discussion, but the runner-up, having first made an appearance as an also-ran a few competitions earlier, is the victor-ludorum-to-be, Allan M. Laing. There are to be several years of competitions in which no-one can touch him. The expert on Allan M. Laing is George Simmers, who has blogged about him on several occasions, as here.
Laing incidentally does it the hard way, selecting nine phrases from contemporary newspapers. His is the second below (his name was accidentally omitted).