Salient: An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 12, No. 1, February 23rd, 1949.
"The Spike" Again for Jubilee
"The Spike" Again for Jubilee
If you were to search now among the outward confusion of the incredibly tiny room which houses the Caxton Press in Christchurch, and if you were to put aside chipped cups, boxes of lead type, rags, and piles of warm, new books and pamphlets, somewhere you would find, on many a quarto page, the typewritten script of a new and important number of our College magazine, "The Spike." At a plain, wooden table, just inside the door, you would find Denis Glover, the printer himself, perspiring slightly at the brow, frantically addressing envelopes, or, with nice suavity and perfect business shrewdness, making terms with a paper merchant, or discussing a printing order with Mrs. So-and-So from the local Women's Guild or Sewing Circle. Before long, the known facts about Glover would come through, in his conversation and manner, and in the talk of his friends—the warm, Irish wit, the slight unpredictability, the brilliance over a pint of malt; the poet and writer who has caught John Lehmann's eye, the Navy veteran of World War II; Glover, the typographer, the Christ's and Canty man. If you talked with him, and bore in mind the delightful volumes that have emerged from this tiny room—"Of Wives and Wiving," the two books of printing types, the Caxton Poets series—I think you would agree, that the magazine is in the right hands.
Getting under Weigh
It all began nearly twelve months ago when the Executive asked me to tackle the task of preparing a new number of "The Spike" to mark the Golden Jubilee celebrations of our College. Shortly afterwards, the Royal tour of New Zealand was planned: and, as a result, the Jubilee celebrations and publications were set back three months. Closing dates for entries had to be changed, until nobody quite knew when the editor wanted the copy, and the editor didn't know when the printer wanted it. But these were only incidental difficulties. Add to them the fact that the three members of the editorial committee between them had examinations to sit or mark, theses to write, a hostel to administer, a rather important selection committee to confront. "Salient" to edit, the students' congress at Curious Cove to attend, and a thousand other tasks, humdrum and otherwise, and it may seem lucky that a magazine is down with the Caxton Press at all! All this, and apathy too—the vast, taut, unmoving skin that encloses inarticulate College thought and writing, and energy.
Yet, when we met for the first time, we thought the venture worth while, and sought around for a policy.
The first preconception that had to be cleared way was that this was not the fiftieth number of "The Spike." It is fifty years since the College was formed, but, partly because the new College did not become articulate for three years, and partly because till 1930 there were two issues a year, this is actually Number 77.
Then We looked back at Vol. 1, No. 1, and found it was called "The Spike"—not Just a "Spike" or any old "Spike.," but "The Spike"; and we also found, to our astonishment, that it remained so until the late nineteen-thirties. "Hast thou The Spike'?" was the cry. So, at the dreadful risk of bringing down the wrath of the bright young literary things, we reverted to the baptismal name.
After that, the long labour of reading through volumes and volumes of College magazines—and particularly the memorial numbers.
What We Wanted
Without any doubt there are in those pages a more formidable collection of statistics than ever the official "Year Book" or "Who's Who," knew. With a faint shudder, and appalled at the expense of spirit. I closed their pages, and set to wondering what could be done this time. Would it be possible to strike any kind of reasonable balance between the heavy conscientiousness of the club histories, now in theory twice as long as in 1924, and the wodge of literary stuff which the more ambitious of the 1948 Executive wanted from me?
So, with not much more than a vague policy in front of me, I began the long task of sending out letters to anybody who had ever made half a name for themselves in academic or literary circles. Dons, lawyers, fellows, doctors, professors, business men, students, housewives—all were paged. The result, of course, had they all answered, would have been disastrous. But, as previous editors have found again and again, there was no danger of that. One has to print most of that which comes, even if some of it hobbles in on one leg. . .
What We've Got
You may be interested in some of the magazine's wares. To begin with there is a valuable document from the only surviving foundation professor—Sir Thomas Easterfield; there is a Roll of Honur, of grievous length, for World War II; some of our best younger poets are represented; there are pleasant, and dull, club histories; there are the texts of several broadcast talks, which you may miss on the air, but would probably like to keep; the names of Eileen Duggan, Anton Vogt. Douglas Stewart. James Bertram, H. C. D. Somerset, P. S. Wilson . . . are on the title page. Some of it is good. Jubilee fun, some stands high up on stilts, and some jogs merrily along like a tidy little rickshaw, practical and trustworthy.
Altogether, I think, with Its more than hundred pages of copy and illustrations, you will get your half-crown's worth. And when writing in the next few weeks, please let your friends in other parts know of it. If you want more than one or two copies you should place your order now with J. B. Butchers, Business Manager, Golden Jubilee "Spike," Victoria University College.
R. W. Burchfield.