Magna Carta is on the Ealing mental horizon again, thanks to a grand conclusion to the local poetry competition. Events take place this Sunday in Ealing Library and the Drayton Court public house, including the prize-giving by none other than George Szirtes. Further details are only a google away, although other search engines are available.
Of course, this won’t be the first eagerly-attended poetry competition that Ealing has seen. A quick rummage through the Archive’s local news and mutterings section reveals one occasion in 1879 when The Great Western Railway, keen to promote their newly re-branded Haven Green station, complete with connection to the District Railway, launched a challenge to local residents to celebrate the iron road in verse. Naturally, the Pitshanger Poets felt especially suited to the task, and for several weeks before the deadline they workshopped and honed their efforts, meticulously polished their iambs, ruthlessly hacked off their final stanzae, and pruned out any superfluous or overwrought adjectives. Surely this prize was theirs for the losing…
Meanwhile, back in the present, this week’s workshop was a far less competitive affair: Martin Choules was joint-first among equals with his pondering on why the British have so few restriction on what one may name a child, followed by Louise Nicholas bidding us to meet her mother, just because she loves to say it. Christine Shirley has been envying the birds, and wondering if they might carry her message home, while Gillian Spragg has been imagining a link between loss of hair colour and loss of speech. Leap-seconds have been springing in Daphne Gloag’s mind, while Owen Gallagher’s burglar’s head is full of the scent of lavender. John Hurley has been peering into the future and not liked what he’s seen, while Peter Francis has been gazing backwards into his childhood to find a riot in his young head. And that brought us to Alan Chambers getting stuck into conker season.
Finally, the winners were announced. Would it be Alfie Tennyson’s peon to the GWR’s new Queen Class of loco, The Lady of Swindon ? Or perhaps Algy Swinburne’s latest in his trademark style: Great Way Roundel ? Could Bobby Browning scoop the gold with his reworked How they Brought the Good News from Bristol to Paddington ? No ! First prize went instead to the eight-year-old grand-daughter of the chairman. But then again, her Chuff-Chuff Woo-Woo was really rather good.