Competitions nos. 118A and 118B: results

Ivor Brown asks for twenty lines in the manner of Chesterton , beginning ‘When Parliament met on Parliament Hill’. Too much beer, remarks Brown – not every Chesterton verse has the word ‘flagon’ in it. He commends Seacape,  a new figure called Q.Q.Q., Xenos, and – back where he belongs in the also-rans again, T.E. Casson. The winners are Valimus and Frank Milton.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The B competition is an epitaph on a Dead Certainty – Brown adds that, although Ascot week approaches, that isn’t the mandatory theme. Brown observes that almost everyone spotted that ‘cert’ rhymed with ‘shirt’, and from that followed in many cases the idea that a shirt was a shroud. Hence a lot of epitaphs involving winding-sheets. The runners-up include new man Q.Q.Q., but also T.E. Casson, Lester Ralph, William Bliss, Little Billee, Baldwin S. Harvey, Cuniculus, and D.S. Meldrum (his first appearance here. He was a Scots academic who was working at the time with William Roughead on the collected works of nineteenth century political novelist, John Galt). Another mentioned in dispatches is Sir Robert Witt, an eminent art historian (1872-1952). Witt is an interesting figure to find here. He had jointly founded the Courtauld Institute with the eponymous Sam Courtauld – the latter beiung the owner, of course, of the Week-end Review. At this point in the WR’s history, behind the scenes, Courtauld must have already been having the second thoughts that were to lead to the magazine’s closure.

Xenos and James Hall carry off the prizes.


Competitions nos. 94A and 94B: results

A new judge: Lance Sieveking, then the director of education at the young BBC, and the first to have produced a radio drama and a television drama. Sieveking cites the American habit of creating one-word descriptions of actrivities the British gave four to, specifying ‘hiking’ for ‘taking a country walk’. He asks for one-word neologisms to cover ‘getting up early’, ‘making love’, ‘reading’, ‘attending places of worship’, ‘gardening’, ‘shopping’, ‘motoring’, ‘dancing’, ‘taking a cold bath” and ‘listening to the radio’.

Unruly post-Christmas entrants made liberal use of ‘sieveking’ (he should have seen that coming). Xenos wins first prize with the full ten; a new name, Alice Thornhill, gets the runner-up prize for her best five.


The B competition – a bit predictably – asks for resolutions for 1932, albeit, a bit unpredictably, using as a model William Brownes’s epitaph on the Countess Dowager of Pembroke. I know you’re thinking, ‘oh that one’, but here’s a reminder:

UNDERNEATH this sable herse
Lies the subject of all verse:
Sidney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother:
Death, ere thou hast slain another
Fair and learn’d and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.

W. Hodgson Burnet and Chauve-Souris make good attempts in what Sieveking thinks is an unimpressive field (although I liked Chauve-Souris’s rhyme of ‘resolutions’ and ‘cushions’), but the winners are Onze and – yes – Seacape. Seacape has hit on the idea of combining 94A and 94B, and gets away with it (while there is report of other competitors combining thelast three weeks’ competitions, including one who had a telegram full of new names, one of which was Oolite. The culprit was not named, but the competitors are starting to frisk a bit, which is a good sign.


Competitions 66A and 66B: results

A new judge – the Scottish novelist, critic, poet but more famously historian – Agnes Mure Mackenzie sets a competition for the best villanelle, rondel or rondeau expressing the emotions of a managing director of ‘B-rb-rry’s’ on the approach of a bank holiday. The competitions are starting to harp on about the rain! The coy hyphens disguise the stylish waterproof clothing made by Burberry:


Mackenzie writes engagingly in praise of a number of entrants – William Bliss catches her attention (she likes his quietly clever pun); but she also admires Prudence, J.L.Pepper, Seacape, James Hall and Lester Ralph. But plumps for Pibwob for the main prize. No villanelles make it through.

WR Comp 66

The B competition asks for a four line (max) verse that argues for a national game that can only be played in fine weather. Thinking about this one, it seems quite hard to make anything of: and sure enough, the entries are deemed poor. The winners, Xenos and BM/ZJL3, are certainly sub-standard:

WR Comp 66You might think BM/ZJL3 is a weird and rare pseudonym (and you’d be right), but he, she or they had previously written to The Saturday Review to complain about prizes not being awarded.

The weather in 1931 was considered at the time to have been particularly awful. At the time this competition was set, this is how The Times recorded the weather:

weather 1931

There was a tornado in Birmingham in June, and, according to the magazine Nature, there was a notable tendency for the worst weather (in the south-east) to fall on weekends and public holidays. You can see the summary, written from the perspective of the following year, here. You may, however, be impressed by the heat in Tunbridge Wells and Croydon.

Tunbridge Wells