DURING the last few months I happened to see Mgr Alfred Gilbey dining alone in several different London clubs. In each case, as he explained, he was a "fugitive from the Travellers" which, because of holidays or a weekend, was closed.
On none of these occasions, however, did the Monsignor remain alone for long. He was greeted, as it seemed, by nearly every other person who came into the club, and invariably ended the evening in the company of one or more friends.
For the Monsignor is rich in friends and admirers, and that is wealth indeed. Most, but by no means all, of his friends were acquired during his years as chaplain to the Catholic undergraduates of Cambridge.
His fans did not desert when he came to London to live, principally, at the Travellers Club. At the very top of that club there is a tiny attic chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reserved. I have served the Monsignor's Mass there before now (Tridentine of course).
He says Mass regularly elsewhere for what one may call his continuing "flock." which is considerable. Such people, and many others, were delighted to see the publication of a book called We Believe of which Mgr Gilbey is the author.
Up until now the Monsignor had never been known to be the author of anything and We Believe was published as having been written "By a priest".
But he has allowed it to be known that he is the author and, as he said to me on our last meeting, "my cover has been blown at last!"
At 82, the one and only Mgr Gilbey, ever to be seen out walking in his frock coat and soup plate hat, has lost none of the spring in his walk and the smile in his eye. Long may he continue to enjoy his eternal youth.