Page 10, 10th January 1964

10th January 1964
Page 10
Page 10, 10th January 1964 — LETTER FROM ROME

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Organisations: Post Office
Locations: Naples, ROME


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By Alan McElwain

IHAD to go out to Fiumi

vino Airport early last

Saturday morning and stand, half frozen, in a high wintry

wind, to realise just what a Pope looks like when a Pope is given a chance.

could hardly believe it for a time. There was Pope Paul, erect, slim, smiling-and un• trammelled! No Archbishop Dante practically taking him by the hand to guide him on his way. No majordomo in unyielding solemn attendance.

No Maestro a Camera hovering about. No other prelates, Swiss Guards, Palatine Guards, Noble Guards, security guards or chamberlains hemming him in until you could hardly distinguish the Pope from the props.

In rope bibles day, I was never sorrier in my life for anyone than when I saw that jovial, friendly bout trying to reach out to people-he was always reaching out to his fellow-men, as you know but being accorded barely elbow room.

When he was on his portable throne, you could see him, but he didn't like it. and showed it. On the other hand, when he walked into, or out of, St. Peter's in procession he was so crowded, back, front and sides, that you felt he needed guards to keep the guards in check.

Well, here at Fiumicino was Pope Paul, and while there N\ ere all sorts of people there to greet him before he ilew to the Holy Land, they were mostly civilians and, after he had been greeted by President Antonio Segni. he walked briskly ahead of them most of the time.

In other words, he was the star figure and he was in command of the situation. not merely a figure encompassed by attendants and pushed hither and von by protocol. It was wonderful to see hint. He was obviously enjoying it all. He was perfectly natural. Ile was charming. And you could sec him. thank God!

Poor Dante

One reason for all this was, of comae, that many of those ministe ig angels who would 01110M INC have been fluttering about him as per immemorial custom were safely tucked away

in the Papal plane lung before he arrived.

As it was, I saw that perpetual "shadow'' of the last six successive Popes, Archbishop Dante. looking warily through his window from the plane and I couldn't help feeling that he was puzlied that Pope Paul had somehow managed to find his way to the airport without having him at his side.

(The wags, by the way. arc telling a little story about the remarkable Archbishop Dante, who is an absolute stickler Aen it collies to Papal ceremonial. They say he was hurt because Pope Paul refused to let him take the Sedia Gestatoria to Palestine.)

Anyhow. there was Pope Paul, free as the wind whipping the tarmac, and all the better for it. in my respectful opinion. As front today. mark me down as leader of the "Don't Fence the Holy Father ln" campaign.

Compass Rose

Women Only: Giacomo Lanni, of Naples. who is known as the Salvador Dali of 'Italian beauty consultants. says that the worst scourge of feminine beauty is insomnia. To combat this. he recommends that women "buy a compass and orient your bed so that you sleep parallel to the terrestrial meridian in the lines of magnetic force".

This is mumbo jumbo for sleeping with your head to the north and your feet to the south. and it may occur even to those women who are Dongaudy complaining that they never know whether they are on their head or their heels that you hardly need a compass to work out that elementary position.

I myself developed a loathing for compasses a year or two ago When an, Australian acquaintance of mine arrived in Rome bearing one of those Pocket lynes. "Never travel without it." he said.

His technique was to also

1.'1 Il a street map and to make pauses. mostly in crowded traffic. to cheek the map with the compass and vice ‘ c In the two woks he was in Rome. he rarely got them to agree and, as a result.chile it tools 111111 10 cuter the shortest distance between practically any tat) points was frequently the longest on record. •

His sole explanation for this non-synchronisation of the two media was that the places he WiiN trying to pinpoint were in the wrong positions.

I got a frightening. 1 limberlike demonstration of this one day when I was accompaming him to the Central Jost office. to which I had conducted him the dal before. He was able then to announce, after the usual check NS ith map and compass. that the building was. in fact, where it should be.

But on this second excursion to post letters, he suddenly pulled up when we acre about a black from our destination. took out map and compass. forced pedestrians off the kerb while he made his calculations. then asked me, sharply and suspiciously. just where I thought I was taking him.

Lethal bus

I explained to him patiently that the Post Office. which I had passed on an average of 20 times daily for the past five years, was just around the corner, wfiere it had been the day before. "Oh. no it isn't." he snapped, jabbing me with the compass, "It is over there," and he pointed roughly in the direction of Jugoslavia.

1 finally got him to the Post Office which, after carefully reading the inscription on the façade, he grudgingly admitted was the boning all right, but he insinuated he was darn sure it was nut there when he had seen it last, or, if it was, it had no right to be.

I left him, muttering over compass and map. Since then. I have been off compasses. If I must drive myself mad in attempts to move from place to place, 1 prefer to do it by lethal Roman bus.

Seminary stage

Some theatrical agent finding himself in Rome around this time any year might try a "busman's holiday" and have a look at the talent that pops up in plays put on by seminary students. 't here have been several exceedingly good ones this year.

I was fortunate enough to see Brian Freers "1 he Enemy Wit bin-. an imaginative account of a period in St. Columba's 34 years on the island of Iona, presented by the Holy Ghost students at their international scholasticate. It Was first-rate, and Felim O'Leary as Columba was nudging professional status.

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