Competitions 139A and 139B: results

Ernest Betts asks for an introduction (up to 250 words) to a new aerial Bradshaw (a Bradshaw was the annual and hefty guide to the times of trains, connections between lines, and a) retained the name of Bradshaw though he had died in 1853 and b) survived until 1961: I can just remember it, and its pages of addenda). This didn’t strike me as a very promising subject for wit or humour, and I’m afraid I was right. ‘Few in number and not extraordinary in quality,’ is Betts’ laconic comment. The winner is J.H.G.Gibbs, and the runner-up is Guy Hadley.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe B competition was for a ‘Song On The Day I Was Born’, providing you were Masefield (a bit of a WR favourite for parody), Mussolini, Bertrand Russell, or Noel Coward.

Almost nobody goes for Coward or Russell, several for Masefield, but almost everyone for Il Duce.  Many says Betts, treated Mussolini ‘flippantly’, which is a ‘political crime of the first order’. I’m not so sure. The winner is nearly T.E. Casson, but Casson makes the mistake of introducing T.S. Eliot into his Mussolini song. The winner is Cottontail, and the runner-up is W.A.Rathkey.

Mussolini had been power for over 7 years at this stage. His invasion of Abyssinia was another three years in the future.

Mussolini

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Competitions nos. 107A and 107B: results

In April 1932, the people of Wales (as they do) presented the six-year-old Princess Elizabeth of York (remember, she wasn’t next in line to the throne, but third in line, after her father and uncle) with a wendy house. A toy house. Except that it was (and is) a little bigger than that. It was presented in Cardiff and then disassembled for the journey to London. Unfortunately, the vehicle carrying it had some kind of accident, and the wendy-house caught fire. It had to be repaired. This is what’s behind the competition set by Norman Collins. He imagines it having burned completely, and asks for a fragment of an elegy in the style of early Masefield (the new poet laureate) on ‘The Destruction By Fire Of The Princess’s Toy House’. For good measure, he reminds readers of a Masefield poem ‘The Everlasting Mercy’, and these lines in it:

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Here’s the ‘toy’ house, ‘Y Bwythyn Bach’, in 1932:

Y Bwythyn Bach

Jocelyn Lea comes close, as does W.A. Rathkey. Collins notes that the majority of the entries seemed to contain the word ‘bloody’, including his two winners, the veteran W. Hodgson Burnet, and Muriel Malvern.

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Another recent news item (this may be the first competition to have a flavour of competitions much later in the century) was the weird occurrence, on March 17th, at the opening of the Sydney Bridge, a ribbon on which was due to be cut by Jack Lang, the socialist prime minister. But before he could step forward, Captain Francis de Groote (sometimes given as de Groot), who was a right-wing agitator who had joined a near-fascist political outfit, the New Guard, rushed forward on horseback and cut the ribbon with a sword (or with his horse’s hooves, by some accounts). Collins asks for a presentation speech to Captain de Groote on the handing over of what a shilling fund might have raised for him.

De Groote

De Groote cuts the tape

Guy Hadley is one of the few to be commended, because Collins is not that impressed with the entrants, but the guinea goes to W. A. Rathkey (obviously on form this week, and winning for the first time) and the runner-up is J.H.G. Gibbs.

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Rathkey has been mentioned as an occasional poet and writer of librettos and introductions to art journals in an earlier instanceof his being a runner-up.

In this edition (April 9th 1932), there appears a letter from Guy Hadley, who has just been commended, which has a suggestion for Gerald Barry:

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Competitions 40A and 40B: results

We are now at the end of 1930, with the forty-second issue, and the results of the fortieth competition. E.M. Nicholson – Max Nicholson – gets a second shot at judging a competition. 40A asks for a Chorus or Marching Song in a bid for victory – with ‘Widdecombe Fair’ banned as a model (is that a Marching Song?). Nicholson notes a tendencyto being archaic, and rules out W. Hodgson Burnet and, woe alas, T.E. Casson also, on this account. The prizes go to Lester Ralph (misprinted as Leslie Ralph) and H.C.M.:

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40B is in the spirit of A.P.Herbert. Nicholson cites a variety of ‘offences against the law’ – playing Sunday cricket at Manchester, arranging an amicable divorce, not persecuting mice, selling chocolate at late hours, and eating buns in a car at Weymouth sea-front. I am presuming that all of these have been news stories in the year, and that competitors are asked to add to them. Here are some of the losing ideas:

eating peppermints, chewing gum, wearing spats, throwing missiles at cats, recording the first cuckoo. selling food wrapped up in newspapers, kissing on railway platforms, ‘loitering in Hyde Park with no intention of playing games or bathing in the Serpentine’, driving a motor vehicle in a manner calculated to irritae the Police’,  ‘discharging an employee who conscientiously objects to work because he feels tired’, ‘carrying an umbrella in contempt of the official weather forecast’, ‘to propose matrimony (or any alternative to matrimony) except on a prescribed form’ and to wear any green or yellow suggestive of, or likely to induce, biliousness’. The two best sets are adjudged in turn to be by James Hall and J.H.G.Gibbs:

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This ends the first year. In the next blog, I’m going to see who, by post-war rules, has won …