Incidentally I may say that I had personal opportunities while I was in England of realising that the reputation of the Times staff for the possession of information is well founded. Dining one night with some members of the staff, I happened to mention Saskatchewan. One of the editors at the other end of the table looked up at the mention of the name. "Saskatchewan," he said, "ah, yes; that's not far from Alberta, is it?" and then turned quietly to his food again. When I remind the reader that Saskatchewan is only half an inch from Alberta he may judge of the nicety of the knowledge involved. Having all this in mind, I recast the editorial and sent it to the London Times as follows:
"The news that the Sultan of Kowfat has thrown away his suspenders renders it of interest to indicate the exact spot where he has thrown them. (See map). Kowfat, lying as the reader knows, on the Kowfat River, occupies the hinterland between the back end of south-west Somaliland and the east, that is to say, the west, bank of Lake P'schu. It thus forms an enclave between the Dog Men of Darfur and the Negritos of T'chk. The inhabitants of Kowfat are a coloured race three quarters negroid and more than three quarters tabloid.
"As a solution of the present difficulty, the first thing required in our opinion is to send out a boundary commission to delineate more exactly still just where Kowfat is. After that an ethnographical survey might be completed."
It was a matter not only of concern but of surprise to me that not one of the three contributions recited above was accepted by the English Press. The Morning Post complained that my editorial was not firm enough in tone, the Guardian that it was not humane enough, the Times that I had left out the latitude and longitude always expected by their readers. I thought it not worth while to bother to revise the articles as I had meantime conceived the idea that the same material might be used in the most delightfully amusing way as the basis of a poem far Punch. Everybody knows the kind of verses that are contributed to Punch by Sir Owen Seaman and Mr. Charles Graves and men of that sort. And everybody has been struck, as I have, by the extraordinary easiness of the performance. All that one needs is to get some odd little incident, such as the revolt of the Sultan of Kowfat, make up an amusing title, and then string the verses together in such a way as to make rhymes with all the odd words that come into the narrative. In fact, the thing is ease itself.
I therefore saw a glorious chance with the Sultan of Kowfat. Indeed, I fairly chuckled to myself when I thought what amusing rhymes could be made with "Negritos," "modus operandi" and "Dog Men of Darfur." I can scarcely imagine anything more excruciatingly funny than the rhymes which can be made with them. And as for the title, bringing in the word Kowfat or some play upon it, the thing is perfectly obvious. The idea amused me so much that I set to work at the poem at once.
I am sorry to say that I failed to complete it. Not that I couldn't have done so, given time; I am quite certain that if I had had about two years I could have done it. The main structure of the poem, however, is here and I give it for what it is worth. Even as it is it strikes me as extraordinarily good. Here it is:
.........................., ............... modus operandi; .........................., .................., Negritos: ....................... P'shu.
..................... Khalifate; ............. Dog Men of Darfur: ....................... T'chk.