08 November, 2006

and the winner is...

Avery! Of the (drumroll please) Lord Howard de Walden Christmas card design competition! Out of all the London girls' schools that competed, citywide, her design has been chosen as the winner. Now, tomorrow we will find out more, after the school assembly where it's announced. But today at pickup, where I was admittedly feeling a bit blue, not to say melancholy for no good reason, Avery came out all pink-faced from her run in Regent's Park, and there on her heels was Mrs D, the headmistress. "She actually CAME OUT of the school!" I hissed later, as we walked away. "I know, like a turtle out of its shell," Avery said. "Or a hermit crab out of its shell, or..." "I get you," I said. The point being that Mrs D is always in the school. So she came sailing majestically out the door and down the step and right to us as we stood there, Avery munching a lemon biscuit and looking sweaty.

"Mrs C? Mrs C, has this child been good today?" Well, I didn't know, did I? "I, uh, think so," I said. "Well, I can tell you she HAS. Who do you think has had her design chosen out of all the gulls from all the schools participating in the Howard de Walden Christmas card competition? Well, it's this gull right here." Heavens above! "I just got the letter in the post this afternoon," she continued. "It will be announced at assembly tomorrow, as well as the prize given to her. I do not know what the prize is as of now, but we will all find out tomorrow. Well done, Avery!" and with a final pat on the head she went back into her shell, I mean school.

So! I have been doing a bit of research on old Howard de Walden now. Of course, last year on Prize Day when Avery got the Howard de Walden essay contest prize, I felt a brief frisson of interest in the fellow. But now that I know our relationship is going to be deeper than just one prize, I have wikipedia-ed his family. And found a very good peerage website description as well. He was born in 1880 and passed along his lordship, or whatever you call it, to his son, who died in 1999 aged 86. Somewhere along the line the father, the one the prize is named after, married, as all savvy chaps do, a woman whose dowry was 92 acres of prime London real estate, namely that which is Marylebone today. So there you go! And would you believe that this bust of him was sculpted in 1906 by... Rodin! The connections just go on and on. Unfortunately there was no son to inherit from the Howard de Walden who died in 1999, so the title is in "abeyance," which means there's no heir to google to fix up with Avery. I guess we'll hang onto the Duke of Westminster who owns Mayfair. Or whoever. Gee, all these titles and dowries get confusing.

She's very proud. We think the upshot is that her card design will be made into a real card and sold in large numbers (bought by me, mostly, I imagine) for charity. Tomorrow afternoon is the Michaelmas Fair, so it's going to be pretty exciting for Avery to have had her big announcement at assembly beforehand. I'll let you know what the prize is! Good on you, Aves.

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