Competition no. 200: results

We finally arrive at the first competition to be set and judged in New Statesman, with 200 being a nice round number, and curiously also as far the Saturday Review had reached before the defections. But come the hour, come not the man. Frank Sidgwick sets an almost impenetrable competition. Sidgwick recognises there is a problem, but seems to think it’s the 20-line limit. But what would you do with this?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second sentence is a nightmare. It confuses some entrants (although I don’t see why) into only using words in the instructions – as you’ll see, the winner uses ‘conduit’. The idea is to satirise the obsession with ‘correctness’ (this recurred in the 1970s or 1980s, when Angela Rippon, for instance, made a point of making the ‘l’s silent in ‘guerilla’. But a poem on this?

William Bliss (another returnee) had a nice rhyme between ‘constable’ and ‘unstable’, apparently. Allan M. Laing starts well but limps home (give him time). In the end, Sidgwick declines to give the full first prize, and hands a guinea each to H.C.M. and N.B. for these rather trifling affairs (the Cholmondley gag has it seems been around forever):

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