Daily Chronicle, March 7, 1904

(A Balham bandsman has been corresponding with the lady of his heart by the ingenious method of using initial letters instead of words. Thus H.H. stood for Happy Home. The bard feels himself unable to resist a word of thanks to this gentleman.)

Beneficent bandsman of Balham,
 Accept this poor tribute from me;
May good fortune and wealth and the best of sound health
 Pursue you wherever you be.
Of clever inventors full many
 We’ve had since creation began,
But I very much question if any
 Have done such a service to man.

In the days that are distant, departed,
 (How very laborious it seems!),
A lover who wrote an affectionate note
 Was expected to fill several reams.
It used to astonish and grieve her
 If he showed a desire to scamp,
And many a man got brain fever,
 And dozens got writer’s cramp.

Then you came with your cunning contrivance,
 And gave us a merciful rest;
No need to spend days in pursuit of a phrase
 Or a sentiment neatly expressed;
You freed us at last from our fetters,
 You smoothed our fast-furrowing brow;
A series of capital letters
 Is all she expects from us now.

With ease void of every exertion
 We dash off a passionate screed;
The whole may be writ in a line and a bit,
 Though it’s rather perplexing to read.
If alien eye should peruse it,
 No meaning it’s likely to teach;
And it baffles the counsel who’d use it
 To back up an “action for breach.”

P. G. W. 



“In the King’s Bench Division yesterday, the breach of promise action of Owen and Taylor came on for hearing. The plaintiff is Miss Edith Julia Owen, the daughter of a grocer at Battersea, and the defendant Richard Thomas Taylor, a member of the Grenadier Guards band. They became engaged and the engagement continued from 1902 to 1903, September 6th of last year being fixed for the wedding. The engagement was not carried out. The defendant admitted the promise but denied that the date was fixed for the marriage. Counsel read several letters from the defendant to the plaintiff. In one of the letters he wrote at the bottom “I.L.Y.M.S.,” which, said counsel, means, of course, “I love you, my sweetheart.” Counsel read other letters, in which frequent allusion was made to “Our H.H.” which meant “Our happy home.” Matters went on until July last, when the defendant suggested that the marriage be put off as he would have to live in barracks. That, however, turned out to be untrue. Afterwards he neglected to answer plaintiff’s letters and refused to carry out his promise, hence the present action.” (Sheffield Daily Telegraph, March 4, 1904)

John Dawson    


tabloid: The word here is used to mean “compressed”; it originally (1884) was a trademark for the compacted pharmaceutical tablets introduced by Burroughs Wellcome & Co. as an alternative to spoonfuls of powdered drugs. Though the word was starting to be applied to short news items at the time this poem appeared, it does not seem to have taken on its modern sense of small-format newspapers specializing in such items until the 1920s, so the title of this poem did not have any connection to newspapers at the time.

Neil Midkiff