16 MAY 1992, Page 44


( lx.VARL 04



Belloc country


In Competition No. 1727 you were given two lines by A. E. Housman and invited to carry on in your own way.

My own hue changed dramatically this week: I am crimson with embarrassment, with yellow spots denoting egg on my face, for the Doughty St telephone lines were jammed with callers pointing out that George Simmers' prizewinning entry last week contained one forbidden e — cruelly ironical since I had twitted an unsuccessful competitor with the same careless error! That's what comes of losing my reading glasses.

To change the subject, this week's com- petition was one I enjoyed setting and judging and you obviously enjoyed doing, going by the more than one hundred entries submitted. (I have been unable to track down the full text of Housman's comic piece: can anyone help?) The best runners-up were K. Roken and Chas F. Garvey. The prize money (please note the index-linked increase) goes to the winners printed below, who get £20 each, and the bonus bottle of Aberlour Single Malt whisky is borne away by Kate Cottrell.

The hideous hue that William is Was not originally his.

Nitrate of silver turned him blue.

It cured his epilepsy too, But seemed to cut him off for life From any hope of loving wife.

But check that tear, for Fate was kind, The girl that he adores is blind And thrills to his electric touch.

His blueness doesn't matter much.

This, I must now confess, is not Original. I found the plot In one of Collins, W.'s Odder encounters with his muse

Called Poor Miss Finch— and took the hint.

(The book no longer is in print.) (Kate Cottrell)

The hideous hue that William is Was not originally his. Far from it. William as a boy Had been his mother's pride and joy. His cheeks were always glowing pink And little did his mother think That, ere he reached his nineteenth year, Her dear one's face, from ear to ear, Would lose its former roseate glow And fade to grey, like trodden snow, Or putty when it's newly dried. Small wonder that his mother cried, 'William! Why do you look so pale?' Said William, 'Mother, do not wail. At University I've found What really makes the world go round.' (John Sweetman) The hideous hue that William is Was not originally his. Born of an upright Nordic pair, His look was pale to match his hair. He fell for dolphins at sixteen, Deciding to become a green. His parents died and, left his due, He soon discovered he was blue. Then dreams of justice turned his head And, feeling guilty, he turned red. And so he sits and frets all day, Still changeable but mainly grey — Afflicted, now he's on the shelf, By nature, people and himself. (Charles Chadwick) The hideous hue that William is Was not originally his, For in the searching years of youth He came upon a bitter truth: Though keen of wit and lithe of limb, Nobody ever noticed him. He strove to remedy the lack: Wore Shavian homespun, Wildean black, But nothing proved of any use Until he dyed himself bright puce. It did the trick; his face was rife On Wogan, Pebble Mill, That's Life. But, sad to say, the garish dye That brought him to the nation's eye Remained his only claim to fame: 'The puce chap? Yes, that's . . . whatsisname.' (Noel Petty) The hideous hue that William is Was not originally his. It's not the hue that William was A week or so ago because The hue that William was before He isn't that hue any more. To put it in a different way, It's not the hue he is today. The hue that covered William then Is different than the hue he had When we first had him, as a lad. The hue he had then's nowhere near The hue he didn't have last year. We don't yet know whose hue it is, But William has it, so it's his! (Uncle Parro) The hideous blue that William is Was not originally his. His parents say, in days gone by He was as pink as you or I; And still would be so, had he not Complained one day of feeling hot. The parents solved this little teaser By popping William in the freezer. 'Goodbye,' they said. 'We're off to bridge. You'll find your supper in the fridge.' The freezer catch worked from outside — A fact that they had not espied; So when their rubbers all were through, They found their son was hard and blue — A hue they like; or else, no doubt, They would have tried to thaw him out.