Entries for the palindrome competition, advertised on the Nottingham list, finally numbered 20. If you think this is a small number, then you probably didn't try to devise one. Or maybe you belong to that group, one of whom divulged to me "Just because I didn't enter doesn't mean I didn't waste a lot of time on it"
Quality of the entries was somewhat variable, starting at the bottom with:
which might as well have been written in Serbo-Croat had it not come together with "Pronounced: Say Sir - Vanuatu Newtown have Riches" which makes it marginally less impenetrable I suppose
Slightly better was "Possibly just about works with a weird West Country accent, sort of..."
Both of those are probably best left anonymous, unless their perpetrators want to own up.
Before the competition started, I had expected several themes to develop, using words commonly associated with croquet. In the event, only one them was used more than once, and that was "Hoop . . .poo(h)" and its variations. We can see what a dramatic difference punctuation can make when we contrast the rather basic Poo Hoop from Russell Bretherton with Hoop? Pooh! from John Filsak, which brings to mind those "mini dramas" that used to appear on matchboxes or bubble-gum wrappers in the 1950s (the only one of which I can remember is "Coughin' . . . Coffin"); I can almost see John's hopes raised as the ball rattles in the hoop and then dashed as it refuses to go through. This was the first entry I received and was my favourite until the last two or three days. It was never going to win, unfortunately, due to its lack of originality.
Other entries in this vein should strictly speaking form a "Poo(h). . .Hoop. . .Surreal" sub-category. We have
Pooh! No peels! A star sees rats asleep on hoop from George Woolhouse, and from John Riches we have the following, with probably the longest pre-amble in the history of palindromic endeavour:
A croquet player has a habit of talking to his balls. He is to play the final stroke of the turn after the bell, and needs one point for his team to win the match. They will only draw unless he scores another point. He forlornly attempts to run hoop 4-back from somewhere near hoop 4 after in his previous stroke the take-off from the 1st corner had rebounded from Hoop 1. His green ball runs straight enough, but slows down and looks as if it may not reach the hoop. He encourages the ball by calling after it:
Now those who know George will be aware that he smokes roll-ups; does his entry give any indication of what they contain?
John let it be known that he composed his entries in church during the sermon. Hmmm. . .
We now move on to what I can best refer to as "Near Misses": where the composer gets tantalisingly near but is just unable to twist the words to get the grammar or the sense quite right:
from John Riches (his protagonist had just won a tournament in which the prize was a mallet)
from Louis Nel (describing what an artistic croquet player like John Prince might do courtside after a few drinks ...)
from Ian Burridge, and perhaps the nearest miss of all, so nearly brilliant
from Leo Nikora
Which leads us on to the podium positions. I am sure that not everyone will agree with these selections, but I would like to remind everyone of what I said in the email announcing the competition: 'I am the sole judge, and "best" means exactly what I want it to mean, nothing more and nothing less' [this, incidentally, is a paraphrase of what Humpty Dumpty said in Through the Looking Glass : "When I use a word, it means . . ."]
So in time-honoured tradition, the results in reverse order are:
[another very, very nearly brilliant effort] and Richard Dickson:
George Woolhouse's advice to a B Class player entering a championship event:
[A very interesting effort, possibly better than even George realised, because as well as being palindromic in its current form it also works if you reverse the two parts, as in Evade Rob, bore Dave. Second and not the winner primarily because of the rather loose connection to Croquet: Rob and Dave could be anyone] [if you see what I mean]
Mike Porter's conversation between Trevor and his opponent (who has not been paying attention to the game during Trevor's break)
Congratulations to Mike, who has already had his prize presented to him. This was a bottle of "Croquet" aperitif.
Thanks to everyone who entered; I hope you had fun.