Friday 3 June 2011

From my comping library: 1. Competitors Journal

This is the first in an occasional series about some of the comping books and resources I have scattered around the house.

Older compers will probably sigh nostalgically at the mention of Competitors Journal, or "CJ" as it was fondly known. For many years, it was available in newsagents' shops, a weekly source of inspiration and information for compers. My grandmother used to buy it back in the 1950s and when I took up comping in the mid 1980s it was the first information source I turned to.

Eventually, though, as compers turned to subscription-only magazines (like our very own Grape Vine), interest in  CJ faded and first the size was reduced, then it went from weekly to fortnightly. An attempt to rekindle reader interest by adding colour just increased the price without increasing the readership and eventually the magazine closed, although I believe the right to the title is still owned by the publishers of Compers News and maybe one day, when the time is right, it could spring back into life.

I only have a dozen or so old copies, but they make fascinating reading. many well known comping names appear among the contributors - Joy Thorpe, Mervyn Coverdale, Robert Kendal, Aubrey Morris and even, just once, a certain Jane Willis. Funny how it ceased publication just after my first article was published. I hope there isn't a connection!

CJ was crammed with articles about comping, from hints and advice about current competitions to a Watchdog feature highlighting scams and problems (some things never change!) and a Tiebreaker Clinic where readers submitted their losing tiebreakers to ask why they didn't win- and often had them ruthlessly torn to pieces by Joy Thorpe, who often referred to herself as a rottweiler!

Promoters advertised their own competitions in the pages of CJ, and used it for announcing winners lists so that there was no need to send off those SAEs requesting results that seldom arrive. And, most useful of all, there was a listing of all the new competitions that had appeared since the previous issue, one or two weeks before. Just look at all these!

Each of them  was new, since the previous issue two weeks before. Every one of them needed an entry form and almost every one asked for some kind of slogan or order of merit to be completed,  as well as  questions to answer or a puzzle to solve.

Reading through them reminds me just how much comping has changed. No longer do I go shopping with a list of 50 or more entry forms to look for. No longer do I aim to complete at least 10 tiebreakers a week.  But in those days, I  could never experience the surprise of a winning email or text message! Comping - and compers - has moved with the times and I still love every minute of it.


  1. I loved Competitors Journal -I'm an old lady now so can go back a long way :)

    I kept my copies in a lever arch file for years and occasionally browsed through even in none comping years when it was hectic at work, the children were little and I had a knitting machine therefore no time to try thinking up slogans.

    I did win a few comps with slogans though. My test was if my husband grimaced and declared the slogan rhyming rubbish then it just might do well! Funny how he admired a slogan so much more when a prize arrive although I still got teased.

    Joy Thorpe was a star. Her articles were helpful and her examples showed her skill.

    Unfortunately my lever arch file went the way of the bin when I was having one of those minimising clutter days which I execute every now and then regret.

  2. What a coincidence! Only this week I was sorting out some old comping papers and came across all my old CJ's. I always looked forward to them, and even had my photo in a couple of them - taken at prize presentations!

    Yes, comping certainly has changed over the years. I, too, used to aim at composing about ten slogans a week. Hard work, but the rewards were certainly worth it!


  3. Hi
    Just read your blog and thought you might like to know that my dad, Gordon Laing, was the editor of Competitors Journal in the 70's. We had an old barn at the back of our house in Westerham, Kent, which he converted into a newspaper office. I have fond memories of him sitting at his desk, compiling the paper with a big tin of Cow Gum, pre-computer days!

    1. I've heard his name, Amanda, although I didn't start reading it myself until the mid 1980s which must have been after his time.


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