H.G. Wells is quoted by Ernest Betts as having said that ‘Luncheon parties for literary men may give way to lynching parties before my time is over.” (It was far from a flippant comment. He made the remark on his sixty-sixth birthday, 21 September 1933, in a speech attacking the loutish behaviour of Hitlerism.) But Betts sees some potential for a jape, and asks for a description of a Lynching party with names supplied. the competitors duly went to town with accounts, for instance, of J.H. Thomas (the Colonial Secretary in the National Government, and expelled from the Labour Party for sticking with MacDonald) being hanged with his own tie (he was known as an elegant dresser). Wells, Shaw, Belloc, Chesterton and Sir John Squire are the principal sufferers. In fact two of the best entrants, W. Leslie Nicholls and William Bliss, are so carried away that they over-shoot the word limit. P.S.C. grabs the guineas, and L.V. Upward adds another half-guinea to his mounting stash:
I like the drollery here. I am afraid the Bishop Narkover joke sails over my head; Ethel Mannin, however, was a radical writer and forceful political thinker who had written a very well-received account of the 1920s in 1930 (‘Impressions and Confessions’), and was to become the lover of W.B. Yeats in 1935 before marrying Reginald Reynolds, 176 of whose poems appeared in New Statesman.
The B competition emanates from the proposal that policemen be recruited from universities, and a police college established. Betts asks for a college song (the college was opened by the Prince of Wales at Hendon in May 1934, and closed at the outset of the war. It did not re-open until 1974, and closed again in 2007). He is so pleased that he prints three – by Peter Hadley (here’s his first win), W.E.B. Henderson and (although he gets no reward), W. J. Halliday:
Lord (Hugh) Trenchard, mentioned in all three printed entries, had been the first head of the Royal Flying Corps, and was later Chief of the Air Staff. In the 1930s, he was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police: