Magazine article The Spectator

In Excelsis: Jaspistos

Magazine article The Spectator

In Excelsis: Jaspistos

Article excerpt

IN COMPETITION NO. 2032 you were invited to imagine the libellous poem about Winston Churchill which Lord Alfred Douglas wrote when he was already in prison for libelling him.

The manuscript of the poem exists, but the copyright-owner, a Mrs Sheila Colman, can't get her hands on it because Jack Straw in his wisdom has ruled that since it was written on a prison notepad it must remain Home Office property. What was the original libel? Apparently Balfour, depressed by the fact that morale remained low after the government communiques on the battle of Jutland had appeared, asked Churchill to write a more cheerful report for public consumption. Douglas believed that Churchill was bribed by the Jewish financier Ernest Cassel to manipulate the facts of the communiques so that Cassel could clean up $40 million on the New York stock exchange. He was also under the delusion that Kitchener's death at sea on the Hampshire, mined off the Orkneys in 1916, was part of the conspiracy.

I'm much obliged to the kind competitor who supplied me with this amusing information, but in choosing the winners historical accuracy scored no extra points: I was simply looking for the hysterical, rancorous tones of 'Bosie' the poetaster. The prizetakers, printed below, get 25 each, and the bottle of The Macallan The Malt Scotch whisky goes to Alanna Blake.

It is the schoolboy predicates the man. Enquire at Harrow and you soon will learn That he who flunks his Latin seldom can With fires of intellect or courage burn.

Most of that style are sporting heroes - he Could find no time to chase or hit a ball; Deep in the outfield where no eye could see He played another game with boys quite small.

'Tis said he bravely fought at Omdurman The Dervishes will never give the lie But what he did with them the world should ban, Though due revenge be left to such as I. See how he nimbly skips across the floor And climbs the ladder to be Chancellor!

(Alanna Blake)

Your first communique is bleak and terse: Our battle fleet has suffered a reverse. John Bull is hurt; his back is to the wall. New York reacts with a stockmarket fall. Cronies of yours with funds to speculate Buy up and, wise in confidence, await Your second, now-the-smoke-has-cleared dispatch,

Which tells how from defeat we came to snatch The victory that sees Britannia still Ruling the waves, blockading Kaiser Bill. …

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