Competitions nos. 130A and 130B: results

Sylvia Lynd – always likely to overrun – takes back the conch. She asks first for meditations on a portrait by a) a sitter and b) a painter. Her report is brisk, and doles out the prizes to two new names, N.H. Peters and someone whose pseudonym can’t be arsed to move beyond ‘A.’ I suspect he or she will even now come at the start of any alphabetical list of winners during the last 83+ years. Here they are:


The B competition – an open letter in verse that has to start ‘Ye innkeepers of England’ – starts with a nice trick, by amalgamating the best parts of the entries of Mariamne (mis-spelt as Marianne), Pibwob and Seacape, who are the runners up. There is reference to the evils of D.O.R.A., and I assume this is a Department of Rural Affairs rather than of Real Ale. (It’s the Defence of the Realm Act, which restricted opening hours: thank you, George Simmers)

Here’s the composite:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut the winners are Baldwin S. Harvey and Guy Innes, both of whom have been out of the winners’ enclosure for some time:



Competitions nos. 108A and 108B: results

T. Earle Welby (‘Stet’) returns the competition to its Saturday Westminster roots with this one: he asks for a translation of the following lines by Petronius Arbiter:


Did I mentioned he wanted it rhymed?



Petronius is best known as the author of Satyricon, Fellini’s version of which had my teenage eyes out on stalks. I thought I had lived and gone to heaven.

Welby’s adjudication is in one of the ‘more in sorrow than in anger’ modes, in which he regrets that some have taken Petronius’ reputation as implying suspicious irony when there is none there. He says he has looked for fidelity but not to the rhythm of the original. Several competitors are commended, including Seacape (not seen in the winner’s paddock for a while), H.C.M., Alice Herbert, William Bliss, the dinner-proposing Guy Hadley, and, of course, T.E. Casson. However, he gives the palm to the veteran Lester Ralph, and the half-guinea to someone who was already well-known as a classicist: John Mavrogordato.


Mavrogordato (1882-1970) had his portrait painted by Mark Gertler (who had had an affair with Carrington, and who is thought to be the inspiration for Loerke in Women In Love), and you can see it here. Mavrogordato had Greek forebears, and throughout his life, was active in the English-Hellenic relationship, was anti-royalist (in Greece), anti-war, and a proselyte for the League of Nations. He had worked on the edge of literary journalism, and was a slightly dilatory academic (he didn’t actually gain a post until 1939, when he was 57). The two things he put most into in life have received a mixed or hostile reception. He translated all of C.P. Cavafy’s works; and he had a plan for a Balkan confederacy based on Delos. His Cavafy is often thought too literal; the Greek plan sounds like the plan of a dreamer.

108B is to be an eight-line epigram on having escaped the perils of the Bank Holiday roads. This competition is dealt with briskly. The guinea goes to O.H.T.Dudley, and the half-guinea to Baldwin S. Harvey.



Meanwhile, Guy Hadley’s letter proposing a competitors’ dinner (one can safely guess that there has been a precedent at the Saturday Review) has met with some initial responses:

T.G.Usborne, who describes himself as a second prize winner, so must be one of the names behind the countles pseudonyms, offers to defray the expenses of the dinner by offering the services of others in his position to wait on table, warning that the big names had better turn up their collars during the soup course, as his hands shake in the presence of greatness. Barry notes that there are several takers, but that he hopes to hear from more veterans before proceeding.

Competitions nos 57A and 57B: results

Ivor Brown asks for a sonnet which opens

       I fain would be a poet but I lack
       A private income …

More miserabilia from the judges. ‘The number of sonnets (and also of poems that were not sonnets) was very large and the quality rather “sad”, as they say of baked dishes.’ Heavy plodding is mentioned. Alice Herbert, H.C.M and Non Omnia are among a small band who receive compliments, but the winners are the stalwarts Valimus and Gertrude Pitt. (He was asking for it with the word ‘fain’, in my view.) Valimus sends the competition up more than a little, and that’s welcome.

WR Comp 57

For 57B we are directed to Longfellow:

                  Lives of great men all remind us
                     We can make our lives sublime
                 And departing, leave behind us
                    Footprints on the sans of time

The extract (and isn’t it banal?) comes from ‘The Psalm of Life’. Brown suggests that modern biographies tend to reveal that the lives of great men are humdrum, and that a ‘quotation’ i.e. a new verse of four lines needs to be added. Several regulars (W. Hodgson Burnett, Little Billee, H.C.M., Majolica, Hutch, are commended but the prizes go to Evan John and Baldwin S. Harvey, neither of whose names have appeared in these columns before.

WR Comp 57b

Baldwin S(ydney) Harvey (1873-1945) was a banker who took over from his father Alfred Spalding Harvey at the bank Glyn, Mills, Currie and co. in 1905, as you can see here. He edited a collection of his father’s financial and economic articles. But he also seems to have published, some time in the 1920s, a children’s book (not in the BL) called The Magic Dragon (although I don’t think he had any children).Harvey