Shaw and the C.H.'
"lively a correspondence page as
our own — if we may say so, and after all we don't write it— could not have been historically complete without a letter from
Bernard Shaw. In January, 1948, Shaw replied to a critic of the history of his Saint Joan, saying among other things "'I hat sort of dry-as-dust rubbish reduced the biographies by Mark Twain and Andrew Lang to worthless and mischievous outbursts of Protestant scurrility. Whoever reads them will be completely misled. My account is essentially correct and historical. , . The real parties in the case were the Catholic Church, the Holy Office and militarist Whig Feudalism. Anatole France's book (as far is it is really his) is as absurd as the lampoons of Voltaire and
Shakespeare." Another letter—or rather post-card—of Shaw's came to us in support of a Christmas appeal for a general post-war amnesty, and I can remember, though at the moment cannot trace, a letter to Jotter himself correcting some interesting statement quoted from a book. So we had our share of the great man's wide-ranging attention.
Rome-Bound A MEMBER of our staff who did not join an " official" pilgrimage to Rome has let me have some amusing notes of her experiences. She writes: " Speeding on our way down Italy from Genoa to Rome in a 3rd class train packed to suffocation with ' locals' we were precipitously joined by two Scots boys— medical students from St. Ahdrews, hitch-hiking around Italy with kilts, shorts, haversacks and 5s. a day. Someone rashly commented that ' a cup of coffee would he nice!' whereupon Tom and Andy produced all the various composite parts of a stove—fixed the arraneement up on the carriage table, filled the result with blocks of paraffin, and set light to it. In no time we were drinking delicious (?) Nescafe from cardboard cups. The poor Italian guard was so taken aback I doubt whether he could find the necessary words to tell us that we were nearly blowing up his train In Need of Protection ?
"pITCHED out of a local train at Como in the smallest hours of the morning we were planning to spend the night in the waiting room or on the platform according to preference, when we were descended upon by the most charming of station masters (or chiefs of police— I wasn't quite sure!). The six girls in our party were escorted along the platform to a little door with gay chintz curtains over the windows. The woman in charge was knocked up and on being invited inside we found ourselves in a lovely bright room, tastefully decorated, and with half a dozen chintz-covered and beautifully sprung armchairs which were immediately flattened out into divans for us. With profuse thanks we lay down for the night.
"In the light of morning we found by the vase of fresh bright flowers on the mantlepiece a small collecting box labelled The Catholic Society for the Protection of the Young I' A splendid idea—I wonder if it is matched elsewhere ? Apparently it is only girls who are ' protected' because our menfolk had walked the streets all night !
" TALKING of stations, I would A like to send some officials of British Railways on a tour of some foreign railway stations — making certain that their comings and goings and changes always occurred in the middle of the night or the small hours of the morning. Could you in England, 1 wonder, get a four or five course dinner at a statai, cafe at midnight ? Rome will give it to you. Rome will also give you a private bathroom for a wash and brush up at any hour of the day or night for about 6d. Florence will give you breakfast, as we had, at 6 a.m. of steaming coffee, hot rolls, butter and peaches ! Of course, Paris can serve you with bottles of brandy, benedictine, etc. at 9.30 on a Sunday morning ! But even sleepy little stations along the line in France and Italy — particularly the latter, can usually rustle up cups of tea, bottles of wine, chocolate and grapes —beautifully arranged on a large leaf !
"WE had many exciting ' surprises' which certainly do not conic the way of the ' official ' Pil grimage. Arriving in Rome after midnight, we managed to get a broken-down cab to take us to our lodging which rejoiced in the name of Villa Mimosa—booked for us by the Holy Year Committee. Miles away — near the Catacomb of St, Priscilla we found our villa—white, modern, spacious, surrounded with palm trees and with a wide drive in. But, we were not expected. A Tarzan who spoke no English and wore nothing but a pair of trousers was absolutely impenetrable, but eventually after using every Italian word available to us, ' Madame' was
produced. She knew nothing and spoke no English. The atmosphere was tense—we had been travelling 39 hours ! We were beckoned in and in less than half an hour the whole eight of us were accommodated. The wine was good, the cooking was excellent, and the olive oil was plentiful."
A New Editor THE November Blackfriars is THE November Blackfriars is THE a new Editor, Fr. Illtud Evans, 0.P., whose name, by the way, will be recognised by readers of book reviews in the weekly secular journals. Blackfriars, under various editors, has perhaps been the most consistent in purpose and out
look of our major reviews. Each issue has the clear and thought-out purpose of treating material, whether secular or religious, from the angle of Catholic doctrine and values, and naturally with a special emphasis on Aquinas. If one sometimes derives the impression that reviews are little more than a congeries of articles whose subtle underlying unity escapes the ordinary reader, this is never true of Blackfriars. The November issue is one of those which, quite openly, treats throughout of one subject, Juvenile Delinquency, under the general title of " A Conscience about Crime." Contributors include Dr. Fairfield, Sir Leo Page, Fr. Vann and Dr. Charles Burns.
Radio Heroes Face to Face
IT has taken the personal appear ance on the stage of the Take It Front Here trio to lure me from the country darkness to the blaze of London. Moreover, Joy Nichols, Jimmy Edwards and old Bentley have risen in my estimation as, like Wilfred Pickles, they have stuck to the B.B.C. and not been lured like my fallen idols of " Much Binding"
to commercial Luxemburg. But whether it is a good thing to see your radio heroes in the flesh is another thing. At the Adephi, in Take It Front Us, Jimmy Edwards is all he is on the radio, and more. Joy Nichols, though making every effort, is not as magnificently vital on the stage as over the air. I like Bentley's face, but he sounds better than he looks. Anyhow, it was a joyous show, with lots of good dancing to support the stars, and the splendid sketch where Roman soldiers, ordered to number, do so, one : one, one; one, one, one; one, five; five.
The Rev. J. J. Meldon (TALKING of broadcasts, I trust ' my readers have chuckled as much as I have over the reading of George A. Birmingham's Spanish Gold which is given every night on the Light programme at 11 p.m. The tale was a very great favourite of mine in my youth—and I think I enjoy it even more today—perhaps for the accidental reason that the Rev. J. J. Meldon, so brilliantly characterised in the reading, reminds me of a close friend also from the North of Ireland who lives near me and is also in Orders (valid ones, in this case), but who shall be nameless !
The Green and Red Truck I HAVE fallen for the new gadget,
of which I wrote recently. Incidentally I should get a commission from the makers seeing that I have passed on the name to various inquirers. What defeated all attempts to resist the temptation was the advent of a little red and green truck which (for a consideration of £16 !) attaches itself to the motor. Standing on the truck, you race round the garden for all the world like the porters driving luggage in
stations. The truck, which can be driven on to beds, carries six or seven barrow loads of compost, firewood, weeds, my children, anything. So now I can cut anything, plough, cultivate, hoe between rows, and generally speaking save myself most manual labour. The machine should easily save a gardener's wages. and so pays for itself in a few months. How exactly one reconciles this mechanism with the primitive compost philosophy, I can
not say. But the thought of the fun of gardening on a green and red truck should pa cify my Irish cor respondent who asks me what I mean by gardening — doing servile
work—on a Sunday. At any rate, it doesn't feel servile any more,