Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Classics Cup

Magazine article The Spectator

Spectator Classics Cup

Article excerpt

Some of the offerings for the first round of this year's Classics Cup had me laughing so hard I almost disgraced myself in the GNER dining car somewhere between Peterborough and Doncaster. In the Open prose section, for example, Peter Bryant turned in a fine Latin version of Mark Steyn's piece about foreigners shaking hands with Sudanese and causing their penises to fall off; George Howe was even nastier about Piers Morgan's diaries than Peter Obornc had been; and Matthew Adams called Cherie Blair Cloaca and her sister Lauren Booth Fossa in Petronella Wyatt's piece about working women. An exception was John Davie, who turned Ms Wyatt's interview about happiness into a thoroughly Senecan reflection.

In the University section (theme: 'Tony and Gordon'), Alexander Millington (LMH) envisaged a Brutus-style conspiracy against Tony (Andrew Marr telling him to beware the Ides of May), climaxing with the inevitable et tu, Gordo; and David Butterfield (Christ's) produced a vital document over which historians will long ponder, Tony's letter to Gordon post Granitam ('I was plastered, you surely can't think I was serious', etc).

The Open verse section restored the equilibrium. For example, Stephen Coombs produced ingenious second Archilochians on a piece about beauty and eroticism by Stephen Bayley; Julian Tunnicliffe some sonorous hexameters on the ex-king's return to Kabul by Radek Sikorski; and Colin Leach did Paul Johnson proud with hexametric reflections on God's gift of free-will. …

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