29 NOVEMBER 1968, Page 31

No. 527: The winners

Trevor Grove reports: Competitors were invi4ed to construct an intelligible and preferably witty piece of prose around ten words chosen from the opening passages of a well-known work of literature—in this case volume three of Mr Anthony Powell's spectacularly longwinded pas seal to the music of time, The Acceptance World. Despite some near-as-dammit guesses, no one earned the guinea for identifying it as the source of the words. More disappointingly, no one even approached matching their original author's skill in point of ingenuity, elegance and wit. Douglas Hawson seemed to be well on the way to righting the balance with a Johnsonian pens& or two, only to succumb to violent an- achronism in his final paragraph—with 'Con- radian.' Likewise Vera Teller, who was pro- ceeding apace with a pleasant mystery for Sher- lock Holmes but insisted on destroying her case with a few ill-chosen puns.

`Postcard,' the first of the given words, in- spired several attempts at Shaw pastiche and reminiscence, none remarkably successful apart from E. 0. Parrott's extract from the diary of Mrs Pat Campbell. But the prize of five guineas goes to Mr Parrott for his second entry —from the Journal of D. H. Lawrence:

Frieda could put all she knows of domestic arts on a small postcard. She burnt the dinner again, being too busy thinking of the children, and forgetting the spaghetti. Life here in Italy is too narrow, too constricted. I am occupied writing continuously so we know no one, and are thrown back on ourselves. So we quarrel, mostly about money. B refuses. the new story. He will not see that my genius is not latent, but here and now, on the pages I write. The harsh angular life of this place is conveyed to perfection but B said it should have been a novel not a story. I replied that I would not employ a liner for a voyage better performed in a yacht. I am not B's idea of a great author. He'd prefer some velvet-suited literary lion with pilgrims round his feet, lording it over them with Conradian aplomb in the best part of Bayswater or Blooms- bury.

Three guineas, for some oily admanese, to J. R. V. White:

So they sent you a postcard from the Bahamas? The scabs!

I know exactly how you felt. Pent up. Con- stricted. Hungry for the sun.

I know, because it's my business to.

For twenty years I've been occupied arrang- ing holidays. Mouth-watering holidays. For people like you.

It doesn't matter whether you're a member of the jet set, a deckchair fiend or just a latent globetrotter.

It doesn't matter, because I know all the angles. In the business I'm nicknamed Angular Archie. A joke maybe. But also a compliment.

Whether you prefer to be conveyed by super- jet or luxury liner, leave everything to me.

You could join my pilgrims on my forth- coming five-star Holy Land tour. Or possibly you'd like something more Conradian. Java? Borneo?

You'll find me fifty yards from the Bayswater underground station. Even if you flunked out on the Eiffel Tower, you won't miss my offices.

They're taller.

Honourable mention to Francis Gomm, three guineas to Edward Samson; here is an extract: Dear Cunard Company: In tearful nostalgia I send this sentimentally coloured postcard to remind you of your lately abdicated 'Queen Elizabeth,' where, on her farewell voyage, my activities were, regrettably, constricted by a slight sickness, partly due to being occupied with your lavish, gargantuan menu, mostly to regret...