1• Farjeon memoirs
• Tunnel men • Risks of authorship • Drury Lane spot
CANNOT resist starting this week's chronicle with a tribute to a kindly, greyhaired, bespectacled lady who is just recovering from a serious illness.
When I was a very small boy. this wonderful lady was nourishing the hearts and minds of children the world over with fairy-tale classics—"works of unquestionable genius" they were called.
This week, when Valentine Cards were carrying various messages to various people. she was receiving cards wishing her a happy 83rd birthday. I am referring. of course, to the famous Eleanor Farjeon (born London. St. Valentine's eve. 1881), who can look hack on a lifetime's work of at least a hundred publications—adult and children's books translated into numerous foreign languages, hundreds of nursery rhymes, and scores of playlets and musical compositions. Miss Farjeon tells me she is writing no more children's stories. no more tales about Martin Pippin in the apple orchard or the little people's world of crystal lakes and winding cobbled streets. But she has a second book of memoirs to occupy herself with, and that is good news indeed. The book will take some time to complete because Miss Faricon has to rest a crest deal now. Rut thousands will wish her well with it while eagerly awaiting publication day.
Miss Parieon's first book of memoirs, .4 Nursery in the Nineties (still renrintine). was a most beautirut record of family life. The sequel will include the story of her conversion to the Catholic faith.
No particular creed
WE talked about that conversion some time ago. Miss Farjeon told me she was brought up in a God-fearing manner hut without any particular creed. Her religious instruction consisted of prayers taught by her Protestant mother. and tales from the Old Testament told by her Jewish father.
"But reading Plato opened my eyes to the nature of the soul." she told me. "Then one Christmas I attended midnight Mass in Italy. I didn't understand what was going on, but I felt most certainly that I was in the presence of an absolute Mystery." At the time she never thought of digging deeper into the Catholic faith. She believed in God as the source of immortal love. and lived by that. But talks with Denys Blakelock. during rehearsals of one of her plays. led her to read the Gospels attentively for the first time. She studied the writings of St. Augustine. too. "From these I received a sense of revelation.she says. "I realised that if I carried my faith anywhere it could only be to the Catholic Church."
TV° well-known Catholics have a special interest in the much-debated Channel Tunnel project.
Sir lvone Kirkpatrick. Downside Old Boy, is President of the British half of the Channel Tunnel Study Group, whose proposgls have been
accepted in principle by the British and French governments.
The Chairman of the Channel Tunnel Parliamentary Committee is Sir Luke William Teeling. Conservative M.P. for Brighton (Pavilion), who was educated at the Oratory School, Fdgbaston, Birmingham. He will be remembered by many for his work on the Catholic Emigration Society's executive committee. 1929-31 Of course, their real tunnel work is only just beginning. Investigations now have to be made into finances which would not only cover the tunnel's cost but the network of communications. And there are thousands of pessimists (realists?) to contend with.
The City Editor of the world's biggest evening paper (London's Evening News) forecast in June 1961 that the tunnel will never he more than a fine idea. This week he was telling investors that tunnel shares are nractically worthless, as the Channel Tunnel Company owns nothing but the old tunnel workings near Folkestone started in the fast century. and its claim to anything at all is only a moral one. Governments are not notorious for recognising moral obligations. are they?
Risks of authorship
ITERARY le\ cr is spreading. Some weeks ago I mentioned that Lady Longford had just completed a book--on Queen Victoria. Now her husband has finished one—his autobiography, part two.
I trust Lord Longford will not have to change his club after publication. One book he wrote. about negotiations which led to the AngloIrish Treaty of 1921, was so provocative he felt he could not continue his membership in the Carlton. exclusive club of the landed gentry. He went to the president, and announced his wish to resign.
"Resign? what the devil for?" exclaimed the president. "I'm afraid I've written a book." Lord Longford began. "Written a book!" interrupted the president. "My dear boy. if all the fellows in this club who have written damn silly hooks resigned. we wouldn't have a member left!"
The matter rested there for time. But soon Lord Longford felt he had further cause to leave the Carlton. He met the secretary. a very conservative colonel, and be gan to explain: "You see I don't agree with the Government." (Stanley Baldwin's Conservative ministry.)
"No need to worry, old boy," the secretary replied. "They're nothing but a pack of beastly Socialists. Not a fellow in the club has a good word for them."
Lord Longford came to the point: "My wife is going to stand at the next election for Labour."
With an expression of deep melancholy, the secretary shook hands, and Lord Longford made his final exit from the Carlton. The following year he joined his wife in the Labour Party. His present club? The Athenaeum.
Diocesan youth leader HE Southwark diocese is benefitting tremendously from the appointment of a layman as full-time organising secretary for its youth clubs.
He is Mr. Hubert Matthews, who was for many years with the London Federation of Boys' Clubs and the Middlesex Standing Conference of Voluntary Youth Organisations.
Mr. Matthews has started visiting all the known clubs in the
Southwark diocese. He is also calling on priests who have asked for advice in starting clubs in their parishes, Everywhere he has been made welcome, and priests have expressed their pleasure at being able to discuss their problems with such an experienced layman. His previous acquaintance with borough and county youth officers is proving a great asset. The decision to make this appointment for Smiths; ark — the first appointment of its kind in the country — was taken because it was felt that a highly-qualified layman working full time was needed to meet the increasing demands of both existing youth clubs and new ones in the process of formation.
Drury Lane spot
IN the spotlight on the stage of Drury Lane Theatre on Sunday night was Archbishop Heenan of Westminster. "When Eamonn Andrews heard I came from Liverpool, he thought I'd he worth inviting." the archbishop told a packed audience.
The occasion was the Catholic Stage Guild's gala concert. Archbishop Heenan, as the guest of honour, was saying a few words in tribute to the guild's work of looking after the spiritual welfare of Catholics in the theatre world.
The Guild certainly knows how to outdo "Sunday Night at the Palladium" and win the support of artistes of all creeds.
There was our own Owen Brannigan singing the famous "Father O'Flynn" and "On the Road to Mandalay": Joan Hammond (introduced as a lady golfer who has a handicap of seven) singing the beautiful "One Fine Day": and Moira Lister telling a delightful Irish fantasy.
And if this wasn't enough to draw the crowds, there was Diane Todd, fresh from two years with Mv Fair Lark in America: more songs from Lynn Kennington who made a hit in The Boys from Svracuse: and still more. with musical arrangements. from the Temperance Seven and the "Unit Four+2" g ro Up.
Best joke of the evening came from Jack Cruise. who related a sermon given by a parish priest in the West of Ireland. "There will be a weeping and a gnashing of teeth." the priest kept saying.
Finally. a little old lady spoke up: "Father." said she. "1 have no teeth."
"Have no fear." says the priest. "teeth will be provided."
Pop syllabus -ISN'T it time the pop-record it started a reassessment of their markets, and acknowledged the fact that disc buyers are getting younger.
Last week, the subject of suicide appeared on the record shops' syllabus.
The new. big-sales record was called I Think I'm Gonna Kill Mvself, and it had lines like "send my remains to my best friend."
Records are a very profitable line. I am told that at this time of the year, record manufacturers in Britain turn out something like 9.960.000 records a month and net about £2,640.000 from them.
But do record dealers want it said at some court inquest that the fruits of their lucrative business gave morbid "ideas" to some ten-yearold?
Do parents want to hear their children mooning about sineing "I think I'm gonna kill myself . send my remains to my best friend"?
The record companies have a bigger responsibility than ever with the new trend in record-buying, The sooner they realise how many children are involved the better.
Good wine I COULD not help smiling at a -11headline in the Irish Independent gave last week to a speech made by Fr. D. Dargan, S.J.
Fr.Dargan is the Central Director of the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, whose members abstain from alcohol for the honour and 2Iory of God and to make reparation for sins attributed to drunkenness.
He had been addressing a Pioneer rally on the problems of alcohol and its abuse.
The Irish Independent report was headlined: ALCOHOL GOOD IN ITSELF, SAYS JESUIT.