Radio Times/1923/11/16/The Prize I Didn't Win
I rise to remark that that "Brighter Britain" idea of the B.B.C. was a delusion and a snare, and it cast further gloom over a life already overshadowed with more than its share of trouble. I was sitting at home in peace and the wife was listening (what a godsend this wireless business is to the unfortunate ones!), when she heard Uncle Rex announce the details of this competition. and, after giving her views on the subject at great length, she said: "Let's go in for it."
The Prize I Didn't Win.
A Broadcast Talk from London by John Henry.
I said "Don't be so daft! We aren't having any holidays."
She said "Why not?"
I said: "No money."
"Well," she said, "back a horse and win some!"
Of course, it was silly talking like that, because if I back a horse, it always drops dead or scratches itself or does a Tishy on me, an I told her again not to be so daft, and the subject dropped for a while.
A Bit Suspicious.
But the next night she said Where shall we go for our holidays?" So I said: "Hyde Park." But she said she'd got some money and she'd pay.
I said: "Where did you get money from?" I was a bit suspicious, because, although she often asks me for money, I never give her any, but she said she'd hacked a horse and it had won at twenty to one.
I said "Who gave you the tip?" She said: "Nobody. I picked it myself. I looked in the paper end I fancied the name and it had 8st. 7lbs. against it, and eight and seven's thirteen, and thirteen's my lucky number, so I backed it and it won."
A Curious Dog.
Eight and seven thirteen! Oh, it's all wrong. Well, by the time I'd got my breath back, she'd decided we were going to the seaside, so I said: "What about 'Erbert?" ('Erbert's our dog. We're both very fond of dogs. 'Erberts' a very curious dog. He thinks he's a collie, but he isn't. I think he's a cross between a skunk, a bloodhound, and a rabbit. He's at his best when he's at full cry down our street. When you tread on his tail, he's said to be in full cry. If ever I get all dolled np in my tennis clothes, 'Erbert always leaves a permanent stain on my trousers by sniffing at me with his cold, damp, objectionable nose.)
She said: "We'll take him."
I said: "No, leave him."
She said: "Take him."
I said "Leave him," and we argued it out, but she gave way at last and we derided to take him.
Our Unique Camera.
Then we got the camera out. Our camera's different from all other cameras. Ordinary cameras just take photos of what's there, but ours takes photos of what isn't there as well. Men with two heads and without feet, and things like that.
Anyhow, we packed the camera, and the next morning we set off for the seaside. We went to an hotel for rooms, but the manager said they were full up. "Everything's full up," he said, "but seeing it's you, I can fix one of you in the bathroom and the other on the billiard table."
Well, we had another argument—she wanted the bathroom and so did I—but she gave way again and I slept on the billiard table. I didn't sleep very well, and the next morning the landlord wanted to charge me amusement tax.
Well, after breakfast we took the camera and the wireless set and 'Erbert and went on the beach, and I said: "Now we must think out some clever, original idea for a photo."
So my better half thought a bit, and then she said: "In a boat." Well, of course—oh, it's all wrong, so I thought then, and I said: "Up a tree," so we got the stuff together and found a tree.
The first thing to do then was to fix the aerial, so I climbed all the tree, and I made a very good job of that, and then I came down and fixed the earth wire, and I said: "Now we must get into a group."
"Where" said the missus.
"Up a tree," I said. Well, she said a few things, but, at last she agreed that up the tree was the only place.
All in Vain.
She's not pretty when she climbs, but she got on the bottom branch at last, and I was very glad nobody was about, and then I lifted 'Erbert up and then I got up, and we formed a very picturesque group, her smiling and me looking noble, and we put the earpieces on, and then she stopped smiling and said: "John Henry, you're crazy!"
I said: "What's the matter now?" and she said: "Who's going to take the photo" and she gave me a push and I slipped off, and the bosom of my trousers caught on something and there I was, dangling, with her vituperating at me. But at last something gave way, and I fell on the camera and busted it, so we didn't get a photo after all.
So we went back to the hotel and I got a few compliments on the way. When we got in I said: "Well, we can't send a photo, but well send a written description and win a prize with that," so I wrote a very beautiful poem and sent it in, and waited for my prize; but I got my poem back next day, with a letter to say that, as I was a member of the staff, I wasn't eligible to compete. So we didn't win the "Brighter Britain" competition after all.