A Jitterbug for A' That
QTRAIGHT from a lecture by a dis
ciple on the beauties of the Soviet Education System to conversation with an urbane Swedish colleague last week, I was rewarded with a story which had a moral for those enamoured of things Russo. My friend told Me of a conducted tour of Albania in 1939. The party had been made up of journalists of all neutral nations. Spanish, American (at that time neutral), Russian, Portuguese and Italian. The men had vied with each other in the search for souvenirs of the ancient and lovely land. One picked up a beautiful old mountaineer's cloak, another an icon of exquisite workmanship, a third a beaded cap and one a peculiar tobacco pipe. The Russian held aloof. He was not a sociable man and, my friend says, but for his eventual 'acquisition he would remember him only because he always dined wearing his bat and had an unfortunate habit of spitting on the floor. But in Duran° he made a purchase. It was a round flat biscuit-like object and he cautiously extracted .it from its cover in the hotel lounge. It was a gramophone record, which he placed on the machine im mediately. Two minutes later his souvenir was tilling the corridors with beautiful bedlam. Cab Calloway was playing Minnie the Moocher to the old world . . . and the new t in New Vienna
WITHOUT comment I otter notes " on the position in Vienna. The reporter is a British soldier at present stationed in the city.
" I expected Vienna to be in bad shape in view of the heavy and prolonged street fighting and the Allied air attacks. The destruction is widespread but except for isolated areas is not intensive. However, the rubble and broken masonry etill stands and this makes it look even more cheerless. However, the main thing is food. The truth is that the Viennese are starving: The Russians took all the food, started on a systematic orgy of looting and robbery and there were wholesale atrocities which the Russians justify by the conduct of the Germans inRussia. They stop people in the street
and rob them; rape is rampant and the number of reported cases runs into little short of 100,000. They simply walk into a house, take what furniture they want and if they decideltto move in, turn the people out and the people are whisked away to heaven knows where. The Viennese are terrified and cannot understand why we do not do anything. Our orders arc not to engage in brawling with the Russians as the policy has been laid down not by the military but is a question of politic. In the meantime the Russians are just as unruly with us and it is not safe to be out at night, for the Russians are always armed and if they hold you up and rob you, you are helpless. You can make a report, of course, but on the surface nothing is done. I am not so naive as to believe that there is not some hard thinking being done by the authorities at home and here. The trouble is that Vienna cannot 'get any food because Vienna is cut. off from all contact by Russian zones all around her. You know all this though. It may or may not be significant that the local Cominunistic party gets all the favours, best publicity and largest and most lavish publications. There are always Contmunist parades and meetings but no other party cart seem to get the necessary permission. However, the treatment the Austrians have received from the Russians has hardly helped increase the Communist cause. What will happen when the million soldiers return, diskIlusioned and in need of work, clothes and food is problematical."
Much Ado -"UST down the street from us is the headquarters of a newspaper which the news editor judges to be the Daily Beast: it has a week-end edition which might be 'called the Sunday Swine. The reaction of the news editor to this journal hovers between a superstitious awe for the de'il which he has doubtless inherited from more Christian ancestors and a superior sort of contempt he has inherited from education by the Marist Brothers. But bet still feels like crossing himself as he 'passes the Daily Beast,. The other day he entered the portals. Inside, he found, looked rather like the entrance to Hell designed by Mr. Cecil de Mille. Two gilt-faced damsels reared their 20-feet high figures upon the walls sandwiching him: these were of black marble. Behind an enormous desk stood two of the de'il's valets, glowering efficiently in gent's natty suitings; so be asked for permission to see the file of the Swine. They didn't have one. So he leered and they offered to sell him a copy. He agreed. They called " Boy " as if they expected Nubian slaves to answer. A ginger-headed youth, wearing an excellent pair of trousers, appeared and escorted the news editor to the back of this Cathedral of penny journalism. There in`a place that looked like a nice clean newsagent's-shop, a nice fat man, wearing an apron, sold us a paper. Now what we want to know is what the glorious technicolour " at the front is all about? Advertising? Huh?
"Fr?' Bing TIER HAPS it is. Mr. Crosby's sim plicity and the humility, exemplified recently in his letter to an English priest who had mentioned his name appreciatively in a sermon, that makes him such an attractive fellow. In any case he is everyone's friend and his friends will be pleased to hear that his latest film, The Bells of St. Mary's. has been judged by an authority no less worthy than the Jesuit review America as even better than the astonishingly successful Going My Way. The second subject is even more difficult, It deals with nuns and is said to he based on the life of the directors, Mr. Leo McCarey's aunt. Miss Ingrid Bergman plays this lad, Sister Superior.. The Jesuit father who reviewed the film for . our contemporary, with characteristic wisdom, took along a couple of nuns to advise him on technical points. They also were enthusiastic. It seems Crosby and Mc. Carey, two of Hollywood's ace workmen, have demonstrated that success even in Hollywood can lead to better things. Ancient and Modern T a recent viewing of Henry V the excellent film version of Shakespeare's play, a friend, American, reacted to the exchange of courtesies between the combating leaders with the comment " What a screwy society." I wonder and 1 wondered still more when ht the " atomic " week-end I reread the play. Whatever be the rights or wrongs of the war that culminated in The field of Agincourt, if the warriors brought the spirit of Shakespeare's cheraeters to their warrings they also brought a sense of humility, the simplicity of the Christian man who is aware that God will resolve the cause. In so many ways it was a different war, and not the least of the virtues of the period was the courtesy accorded to the defeated. At two other film shows last week this was recalled to me. Because the Japanese envoys to Manila had a soldierly bearing, a couple of " rugged " news-reel commentators sneered at their " arrogant bearing "t had they approached their conquerors abjectly, no doubt they would have been described as " beaten dogs." Times have changed—clerks now can glory in hitting the enemy—they couldn't hit when he was up—when he is down. But in a shot of women taken with Japanese soldiers they disagreed. One, the more enthusiastically propagandist, described them as being conscripted to the Use of the soldiery. He should have communicated his idea to his colleague who stuck to the terse and possibly more accurate description
" camp-Followers." How inglorious men can be in victory. But possibly this is " progress . ."
Wise and Otherwise
" Lady who loves archaeology, art, music(armchair •variety) desires correspondence with kindred souls, both genders."—Adve in Saturday Review of Literature " I found a striking piece of sculpture by Charles Jagger, who died in 1934. It is a faun and a nymph: more than life-size, in Jagger's usual powerful style. Jagger's widow married again and went to America." — Londoner's Diary.