In Competition No. 2390 you were invited to produce a poem which incorporates the titles of at least eight current West End theatrical productions.

What with on the town, the anniversary, the birthday party, guys and dolls and blithe spirit, celebration was the keynote. ‘How we laughed to see the woman in white tights/Do cartwheels by the dresser in the hall,’ Tim Raikes recalled. He, Bernadette Evans, G.M. Davis, Shirley Curran and Brian Murdoch all sent in tempting entries, but the winners charmed me with a combination of an easy manner and a choice of the unexpected scene. I have had to take some things on trust, so don’t write to me pointing out that, strictly speaking, the Old Vic is not in the West End. £30 to Gerard Benson and £25 each to the other victors printed below.

I, Citizen, Birthday Boy and Poet, affirm and declare
That all men are blood brothers to me;
And all women, equally, are blood sisters —
The woman in white equally with the woman in black,
The Irish gangster’s moll from Chicago equally with the hungry Italian visitors to Elmina’s kitchen,
Or the Spanish girls who work from the House of

Bernarda Alba.

I accept all. I include all.
At the birthday party I am planning no one will be excluded.
Billy Elliot, the musical and lithe-bodied youth,
Will sit side by side with long-faced Tristan
& Yseult will share secrets with Hedda Gabler.
Nor will they be gloomy, for life is to be celebrated.
I celebrate with the astronaut as with the corner-loafer;
For whose life is it anyway? Ours! To live and celebrate
(I have said this before) from Manhattan to Merthyr Tydfil.
National anthems shall be forgotten. Together we will sing a World Anthem.
Gerard Benson

‘What a glorious evening!’ the woman in white
Remarked as we stood there on Saturday night.

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