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