Competition no. 233: results

William Archibald Spooner died in 1930, just four years before this competition (there were obituaries in the national papers that spoke of the way Punch and others lampooned him, and, inevitably, quoted one or two possibly genuine examples). But this, the first NS spoonerism competition, is notable for the brief mention of the hapless Warden, and yet the absence of reference to his -ism.

spoonerThe setter is Seacape. It is like having a visit from the king over the water – he hasn’t been seen more than a couple of times in 1934. But here he is, with a patrician drawl, and with a chat about the old times (he notes that H.C.M. is familiar with this kind of competition from ‘the old Saturday Review days’). In fact, H.C.M. also says that it’s the hardest competition he has come across, whereas Seacape thought it would be ‘a nice little exercise in metathesis’, indeed something to be dispatched at the beach. But the extent of the problem may seem clearer when i tell you he’s asked for twenty lines and transposition of at least two words in every line. He quotes an extract from Punch:


I hate spoonerisms! They scramble my brain. I would rather do anagrams, and that is saying something.

The competitors jumble the words a bit too far. Seacape courteously thanks those who have given him ‘translations’ (gamesmanship!). He quotes a few, including

a hole in seven; dines in the shark (Miss G.)

glossy men (Chauve-Souris)

the pain roars (H.C.M.)

he gives maize to the prune (Midas)

Guy Innes comes close, and the prizes go to two of Seacape’s vintage: Little Billee and Pibwob, neither of whom have had much luck as yet in the NS. What becomes clear is that a Georgian poem is actually ripe for spoonerising. The old system of putting competitors after their entries is restored.





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