The Spectator

A Charm against Indigestion

Soothe your post-Christmas dinner indigestion with these readers’ charms, dug out from the spell-book that is the 24th December 1954 edition.

The usual prize of £5 was offered for a charm against the pains of indigestion after Christmas dinner, in not more than eight lines of English verse: the charm to be pronounced while taking the prescribed dose of bismuth, bicarb., or other normal remedy.

Nearly ninety competitors were prepared to reinforce their doses of magnesia, bismuth, bicarb. and alka-seltzer with a rhyming charm; but, although among the big and little guns there were (as Sir John Squire said in a Masefield parody) `some interesting ones,’ I was rather disappointed not to come across a really charming charm. Joyce Johnson (apropos of Cyprus) made her favourite pun: ‘To soothe and smooth the aisles of grease/Eno’s is/Eno’s is/Eno’s is the remedy’; H. E. Wootton achieved a triumph of compression in the five words: ‘Izzy, WIZZY, Let’s get Busy’; and I hesitated long over the entries of Mrs. Hilda Bone, Rhoda Tuck Pook, Sir Patrick Laird, Lakon and Helen MacGregor. I hope, too, space may be found to quote in full H. A. C. Evans’s macaronic charm, which bad to be disqualified since the terms of the competition called for English verse. Otherwise he would certainly have been a winner.

I suggest a prize of two pounds to Christine Greenfield for a charm that really sounds like a charm; and one pound each to P. M., Bernard Fergusson (but what are `sifles’?) and the Rev. J. P. Stevenson.

And to all competitors, past, present and to come, I wish a Merry Christmas, with showers of bismuth and lashings of the milk of magnesia.

PRIZES

(CHRISTINE GREENFIELD)

Liver of thrice-fattened goose—
Let me get the stopper loose.
Leg of turkey, head of wine—
Acid turn to alkaline.


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