5 SEPTEMBER 1958, Page 31

`A is for Amis . .

SPECTATOR COMPETITION No. 444: Rcport by J. A. R. Pimlott

voting alphabet of the 1:stablishniene or a begin with 'A is for Antis). The usual prize was offered for either a rh. rhyming alphabet for highbrows (this latter to

WHAT are the specifications for a contemporary highbrow? Competitors have enabled me to give a confident answer. Compulsory subjects include Beckett, Brecht, Hepworth, lonesco, Joyce, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Leavis, Moore, Orwell, Picasso, Pound, and, of course. Eliot and Yeats. And Kierkegaard should preferably be studied in the Danish (Jeremy Kingston). There is only one radio programme.L.-the Third, while the 'telly' should be shunned except as a patron for the high- brow who makes good. Some esoteric interest is an advantage : G. Curzon mentioned Japanese No plays. The highbrow received the mildly tolerant treat- ment which the British traditionally accord to harmless eccentricity. No, mercy, on the other hand, was spared for the 'Establishment. Almost everybody equated it with the upper classes rather than, as I expected, with the 'top people' who are the supposed residuaries of power and influence whether they are to be foUnd at the Court, the Athenicum; the Palace of Westminster, Broadcasting House, Printing House. Square or even Transport House. Perhaps the mistake is mine. Anyhow, the result was rollicking farce streaked with a bitterness which was sometimes surprisingly savage and hardly ever redeemed by the subtlety I thought the subject invited.

But my main concern must be with technical competence and literary quality. The general standard was good, and there were occasional touches of brilliance. Yet nobody succeeded in sustaining a uniform excellence through hard letters and easy ones from A to Z, and no entry was outstanding. I award two guineas each to Areas and Allan M. Laing, and one guinea each to R. E. Bird and Xico. Runners-up: Frances Cullingvvood, C. P. Driver, Trooper Jones, Jeremy Kingston, .1. A. Lindon, Helen MacGregor, B. T. M., and Mary Newell.


THE Est ABLISI IM ENT ARCAS) A for All Souls, and alike Athenaeum,

B for the Bishops; it's there you may see 'em. C is for Caste, and the Carlton, and Claridge's. D are the Debs; see Debrett for their marriages. E is forEton, where statesmen are born, F the FO which they mostly adorn.

(I is for Goodwood (the 'gees they all love) It to for Harrow (see Eton, above), for Immaculate. mark of their dress, J I or JP (the initials impress!)

K are the Know-alls, of wisdom profound. L is for Lord's, where they're thick on the ground.

M is the Monocle firmly screwed in, N is the Nepotist, loved by his kin. O's the Old School, and the Officers' Mess. P for the Party, the Peers and the Press.

Q is the Quality. far above Question, R the Right People—be sure you the rest shun! S arc the Signs of your Superiority,

T is The Times, which dictates with authority.

U is for U : you must do as the U did! ✓ is the Varsity (Redbrick excluded!) W's Westminster. also Whitehall.

X the Unknown, who must pay for it all.

Y's the Young Man who is Angry—why not? Z is the Zeitgeist, that threatens the lot.



A is for Antis, whose Lucky Young Man Finds truth not in wells but in a beer can.

B is for BRECHT, an original Teuton

Whose themes have a gravity unknown to Newton.

C is for Cnld:Ntv, whose meaning's too deep

For the tired businessman in the stalls, half asleep.

I) is for DoNNE. that rare poet-divine: You quote hint to show that the highbrow's your line.

Es of course Ulm. Anglified Yank.

Who mixes free verse with a charge at the bank.

F's E. M. FORSTER: you give him the mitten

By saying he's famous for what he's not written. G's ROBERT' GRAVES, whose rich genius burns In an erudite heap of variety turns.

H is for Htixiiiv—it's Aldous I mean : The worthy successor of our Gloomy Dean.

I is for ISHERWOOD: sometimes hell go browse

With Auden on peaks all too high for our low- brows.

Fs JOYCE, and his work a mere bundle of howlers When judged by the standards set up by the Fowlers.

K is for KAFKA : he's all introspection :

Not for those who like novels of crime and detec- tion.

L's Da. I..E.%vN, a critic emphatic,

, Whose judgments, though camouflaged, turn out dogmatic,

M's-7--shall we say—for the new playwright. MILLER, A realist, squalid, grim drama-distiller.

N is for NIETZSCHE: the height of his brow Didn't stop him from thinking of Woman as Cow.

O is O'NEILL, once a Bloomsbury pet,

Whose plays fail to draw /to/ pollei even yet. P's EZRA POUND, whose much-overpraised Cantos Aren't half so amusing as most Christmas pant os.

Q is a Qt.Eav: the long highbrow list Must he incomplete : this Anon has been missed!

R is for Rtissri i , our wisest of peers :

Brows high, low and middle accord him their cheers.

S is the SrrwEi 1 s, that arrogant three, Too much for us all and too many for me. T's Philip TOYNBEF. who, in the Observer, Each Sunday expresses his strong views with


U's for Don Miguel de UNAMUNO: Who's he? Well—a poet of Spain : that 1 do know, V's for VERHAEREN, a dead Belgian mystic:

We he ego- or altru- or ideal-istic?

W's for WAIN, type of Angry Young Man :

Ripe wisdom awaits him on nearing life's span. X is X1MENES, whose Crosswords are not

For the Man-in-the-Street. the illiterate clot !

Y is in heaven : his name's W. B. Yrims: Curate-angels intone, but he cantilates.

Z is the ZEST which sly highbrows conceal When Brown, Jones and Robinson get a misdeal. HIGHBROW ALPHABET (-i. E. BIRD)

A is for Am's and Redbrick ingratitude.

B is for BECK FIT'S most un-Saxon Attitude. C-----COLIN WILSON. the critic's fair sport,

D for DEVINE right at one Royal Court. .E is for EDINBUROH's annual binge, F for the frolics we have on its FRINGE.

G is for GIDE, every Modern must thumb him, H is for How.uout—wish we could hum him! our lorm. of Art for Our Sake, I. is for Jovr.E.,--how we ploughed in his Wake.

K is for KAFKA'S encircling gloom. I. is for LEAY IS in his small back room. M is THE. M ETH()D, we're prostrate before it.

N the NEW STATESMAN, we dare not ignore it. 0' is the ORSON of Citizen Kane.

P is for PROUST and the towns of the plain.

Q is each QUARTER that brings the Review, R for ROUND THEATRE—We thought it was /ut.!

S is for STRAUSS. but of course not the Js,

T is the TYNAN selecting our plays.

U is UNE:sco. you scoff but you pay. ✓ for the VANDALS who'd sweep it away. W—WOLF,with his Wedgwood and Whimsy, Xistentialists? Hardly. Support is now flimsy.

Y the YOUNG MEN in their anger and sorrow. Z is our Z iNt In, the ArtS of tomorrow, THE ESTABLISHMENT (XICO) A is the Author whose books aren't escapist, B are the Bishops, excluding those Papist, C. the COurt Circles, are wholly self-centred, D is Debrett (which you read if you're entered). E is for Eton, where Yorktown was lost, F. the FO. never staffed as it's bossed, G stands for Guildhall and pompous occasions, H is for Humph and sub-culture invasions, Ireland is chiefly the Powerscourt Demesne.

J are the Jobs that the Boys stand to gain, K are the Kinsmen (not relatives, please),

L are the Leaders (the Fourth is a tease), M is for Moss Bros. the OK apparel,

N are the Names that have more than one barrel.

O is for Osborne, persona non grata,

P are the Programmes permitted by Charter, Q is the Quorn of the cream of Society, R. the Right Type, is both Snagge-ish and Wyatty, S is for Shooting. but only on moors.

T is travel, but never for Tours,

U are the Digbys, the MoncreitIs, the Eldons,

✓ stands for Viscounts, but not jet-propelled 'uns. Winchester's old boys undoubtedly care for it,

X is the cross that the rest of us bear for it.

Y is for Yachts and their newsworthy owners, Zealously told of and tiresomely shown us.