Competition no. 202: results

Sir John Squire capitalises on a piece of news that had been running since early 1933 (although in fact the most famous item about it did not appear until mid-April 1934, so Squire is anticipating) – the suggestion that Loch Ness contained a monster, and that it had been seen. (There is a good blog about histories of sightings here.) He asks for a song written to the tune of ‘The Soldiers Of The Queen’, with the refrain ‘It’s The Monster of Loch Ness, My Boys’. (The Daily Mail cover that created the bigger fuss was purportedly taken on April 19 1934 and published on April 21).

Mail Apr 21 LNMUnpromisingly, Squire opens with the words ‘The standard was not very high …’ Apparently too many tried to be political, and many were unmetrical. It may incidentally seem odd that he is asking for ‘The Soldiers Of The Queen’ in 1934, but the song originated in an 1895 comedy musical called ‘An Artist’s Model’. Only more recently has it been taken up as a regimental song. The lyrics (by Harry Greenbank) they were trying to mirror went thus:

Britons once did loyally declaim
About the way we ruled the waves.
Every Briton’s song was just the same
When singing of her soldier-braves.
All the world had heard it–
Wondered why we sang,
And some have learned the reason why–
But we’re not forgetting it,
And we’re not letting it
Fade away and gradually die,
Fade away and gradually die.
So when we say that England’s master
Remember who has made her so
It’s the soldiers of the Queen, my lads
Who’ve been, my lads, who’ve seen, my lads
In the fight for England’s glory lads
When we’ve had to show them what we mean:
And when we say we’ve always won
And when they ask us how it’s done
We’ll proudly point to every one
Of England’s soldiers of the Queen.

The two winners (the first being ‘more singable’) are Arthur Oliver and Lt. Col. H.P. Garwood, who is evidently happy to read what is happening on the left, and has already defied my stereotype of him.


New Statesman’s poet MacFlecknoe had already published a poem on the subject that month.

Competitions nos. 189A and 189B: results

Having come out against the ballade a few posts ago, it is my melancholy pleasure to tell you that 189A is for yet another ballade, and that, looking ahead, 190A will be for yet another ballade. That’s not very great planning!

We can exculpate the first setter, I think: Sir John Squire. He wants a ballade that ends ‘I liked my partner but she trumped my ace’. (The idea that a man and woman might swap roles is not envisaged.) Extraordinarily – to Squire as well – there is a glut of red-headed shes’ among the entries, most of which (the entries) he admires. He has to cut out the ones who still can’t tell a ballad from a ballade; he cuts out all the ones who don’t seem to know what game is being played; and, very oddly, he cuts out the small minority who picture the ‘he’ as a condemned man awaiting execution. The winners are Arthur Oliver and W.R.Y:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbridge_simplifiedThe B competition asks for a summation by a loser [as in a gambler] after a horse-race. Actually, this turns out to have been a misprint, as Squire wanted the word ‘rumination’ (he says he is hanged if he would use ‘summation’ even if it existsed, as he must have known it did). Squire thinks that no entry is especially good, but, perhaps ruminating on ‘summation’, hands the prizes to W. Leslie Nicholls and E.W. Fordham (the latter very definitely a summation).


Competitions nos 176A and 176B: results

In the first explicit reference to armament, Philip Jordan asks for a ballade to be in the voice of an armament manufacturer, the refrain to be ‘Why should I worry? Death will always pay!’

The ballade (beloved of Chesterton) is a real favourite of the early competitions, and would continue to be revered as a comic form until the fifties, at least (I don’t think one has been set in the last 40 or 50 years, not least because it is quite a long form. The refrain here is perhaps (perhaps? definitely!) something of a sledgehammer. Wryly, Jordan notes that he is surprised some of the envelopes did not combust in the post, because so many contained poems of ‘corroding venom’. Unfortunately, he adds (since he would like to have included some venom), innumerable poems bore little resemblance to the ballade form, so his winners are milder. They are W. Leslie Nicholls, Dermot Spence, and (as another B competition has done poorly), Arthur Oliver.





For the B competition, a short poem on the (just-concluded, albeit inconclusively) economic conference is requested. There are several entries, many of which write about having a drink now it’s all over, but Jordan is only disposed to give out a single prize, to J.N. Wales. I think this must be John Nicholson Wales, who worked at Dartington for Leonard Elmhirst, and who had been given the task of producing a daily ‘news of the day’ in 1928. He may also be the J.N.Wales who, rather later, contributes to books about economics:


Competitions 52A and 52B: results

Dyneley Hussey notes that it’s the anniversary, and asks for birthday odes, which ‘need not be wholly uncritical’ (and are restricted to 24 lines). Not surprisingly, he receives sackloads of effusions. One of the serious complimentary poems is by T.E.Casson, and Hussey says it is ‘just not good enough’. It’s interesting how, I think, the idiom has changed – I suspect Hussey is saying is that it doesn’t quite but oh-so nearly reaches the right standard, not that it’s well below par. Poor old Casson. One wonders if the successive judges have spotted that everyone compliments him, and no-one gives him any guineas. There is an entrant called Old Mole whose puns are so awful that Hussey quotes a few (‘May … your Betts all be placed on the winning dark horse … your Welby ne’er ill be … your Agate well-polished  … your Bulletts find targets, your Husseys no shame’) in a sort of mounting horror.

The prizewinners (three, as 52B is a bit of a disaster) are Arthur Oliver, Seacape and Valimus (when Seacape wins, either Valimus or Pibwob almost invariably also win, as if some of the competitions favour the old gang).

             WR Comp 52

WR Comp 52b

52B picks up a news story that a recaptured convict confessed to being ‘hungry and fed up’. Hussey wants three idiomatic oxymorons. He disputes almost all the entries, pausing only to like James Hall’s newsagent who says ‘It’s not in, it’s not out yet’, and giving a prize to Pibwob (so the triumvirate are all together), and a mere commendation to A.E. Watts

WR Comp 52bi

It is possible that this is the A.E.Watts who was a Latinist, and translated, amongst other texts, Ovid’s Metamorphoses – with illustrations by Picasso, but this is a very long shot indeed.

Competitions 35A and 35B: results

Dyneley Hussey cites Walter Savage Landor’s poem


and asks for a version substituting someone other than Rose Aylmer (who was incidentally a real person, a friend of Landor’s who died in 1800 aged 21). Suggestions include Will Shakespeare and Max Aitken (the latter also the hook for 35B). In the event, the entrants commended have had a shot at Gus Mahler, Charles Chaplin, Don Bradman, Pavlova, but the winner is more traditional. A.J. Perman (who is starting to do rather well) goes for Vergil:

                  Ah! what avail’d the tender heart?
                    Ah! what the sculptur’d line?
                What perfect word and perfect art?
                   Vergilius, all were thine.

               Vergilius, whom my youthful eyes
                    With joy could never see,
                These few words to apologise
                     I consecrate to thee.

This seems a little sappy for two guineas (this is one competition that would be done well now, I think). L.V.Upward gets the second prize.

                  Ah what avails the I.L.O.
                    Ah! What that sub. of mine!
               What energy, what push and go,
                   Tom Beecham, all were thine.

                Tom Beecham, whom the B.B.C.
                   Annoy’d but never still’d,
                How glad Elysian fields will be
                    To see thy concerts bill’d.

[Beecham was not dead, incidentally – he died in 1961 – but he had just failed to secure an arrangement with the BBC to form a radio orchestra]

35B asks for a three verse ballad called ‘Follow-my-leader’, with the refrain ‘I’ll follow any leader if the leader follows me.’ The cue for this was Lord Beaverbrook’s (i.e. Max Aitken’s) announcement that he would back Baldwin, the Conservative leader – see the Origins section – an endorsement he offered with these words: ‘I confess that the leadership [of Baldwin] suits me, provided that the leaderrship carries with it the policy I support.’ Baldwin

The winner is a new name, Arthur Oliver:


and the runner-up is another new name, T.G.U.: