Saturday, 2 May 2009

Another Competition I Didn't Win

(Click image to enlarge)
Many, many years ago, there used to be a columnist in the Daily Mirror newspaper called Donald Zec. I believe he is still alive today and in his nineties. In 1969 he ran a competition 'Win A Happy Christmas', and I, as an aspiring young writer, submitted an entry. First prize was a colour TV plus £250 cash prize and there were further prizes of 100 magnificent Christmas hampers. These may look modest prizes now, but believe me in 1969 they seemed tremendous. Unfortunately, I did not win a prize, which meant I did not come in the first one hundred and one best entries, and no doubt, reading my entry again now, I didn't come in the first one thousand and one either. All that said, I have reproduced the entry below. The task was to tell the Daily Mirror, and Donald Zec, in not more than 250 words, why you thought Britain was best. Apparently, Donald Zec had written in his column earlier that week 'A country which can invent the mini-skirt and Marks and Spencer must have the edge on the world'. Perhaps writing it today he would have nominated greedy bankers and Woolworth's! It appears his article struck a chord with readers as thousands wrote in saying there was no place like home. Incidentally, according to a scribbled note on the fading photo-copy of the entry, it was forwarded in the 12 o'clock post, Mon. 8th December 1969. Now, how's that for efficient filing (go on admit your impressed). Pity Donald Zec was not impressed, if he had been we would have had a lot better Christmas. Here is the entry.

Irish mock, a Scottish loch, a valley set in Wales
London town, a country down, the rugged Yorkshire dales
A dewy morn, a field of corn waves to summer rain
A song thrush sings, midst butterfly wings, down a country lane
An English rose, a book of prose,a well made pot of tea
Church bells ringing, choir boys singing, a spreading chestnut tree
Christmas sonnets, Easter bonnets, also in addition
Pancake day, the Queen of May, are part of our tradition
Seaside trips with fish and chips, not forgetting Bingo
Noisy bits of record hits from John, Paul, George and Ringo
Bowler hats, pants with spats, a pint of English beer
A stately home through which to roam, a stroll down Brighton pier
Ena Sharples, Ernie Marples, then there's Frankie Howard
Sandie Shaw, Bobby Moore and also Noel Coward
A cockney smile, the golden mile, bagpipes in the Glen
Squatters, hippies. London clippies, the sound of old Big Ben
Mini skirts, Carnaby shirts, all help to set the scene
In a land that's proud to stand behind a gracious Queen
Free to choose to win or lose, I shall not hesitate
To shout aloud, that I am proud, "This Britain's really Great."

How many of those memories from the 'swinging sixties' can you recall?