DURING the last war some talked of Alexander, but most of Monty's feats. Yet if Field-Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis, who died on Monday, did not capture the headlines he always captured the hearts of those who served under him And the British public, which has a healthy suspicion of the top brass of all these Services, had a natural reverence for a man who enshrined so many of the British virtues.
In looks he was Harold Macmillan in uniform. He had Macmillan's Edwardian air, he had the same unflappability, but he needed no battle dress to proclaim his courage. He never lost the common touch that was uncommonly successful and sincere. He was a straightshooter and the lowliest private recognised and saluted this quality in him. They also felt safe with Alex.
I believe that what most people recognised in Alexander was integrity and compassion. Although he had the heart of a soldier they felt that he had also the mind of a civilised civilian. I always thought of him, quite wrongly, as a man who had wandered into uniform in the 1914-18 war and had absentmindedly forgotten to take it off.
'flROGRESSIVES wilted r in the face of a strong rumour some time ago that Bishop Casey, Auxiliary of Westminster. would become Bishop of Brentwood after the retirement of Bishop Wall. That, or course, was before the survey carried out among the priests of the Brentwood diocese to find out what type of priest they would like to fill Bishop Wall's shoes.
Results of the survey, which Kevin Mayhew writes about on page three. show that the priests do not want a normal man as their Bishop. They want a "relatively progressive" saint. I am afraid that their kind of bishop does not exist even in Brentwood or this side of Heaven or the grave. To me the irony of the survey is that the priest who gets as near as anyone to meeting the minimal Brentwood requirements (the phrase "relatively progressive" is open to the widest possible interpretation) is none other than Bishop Casey. Auxiliary of Westminster.
A King's humour
My copy of Cecil King's autobiography was late in reaching me so I was in the commanding position of having read all the reviews of Strictly Personal (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 45s.) before getting down to the job of actually finding out what the former Mirror master had done for himself.
The majority of reviewers slaughtered Mr. King for his high opinion of himself and low opinion of the Harmsworth family in particular and the rest of mankind in general. He certainly asked for all he got and his book is so deplorably written that I can understand the critics' chagrin. But what most of them failed to grasp was the deliciously grisly aspect of Cecil King — his humour. Take this anecdote for instance: "I have had almost no contact with the college (Christ Church) since I went down. I went to two gaudies long ago. I was seated at the bottom of the bottom table among a lot of prep school masters, though I had Lindemann on one side on one occasion.
"On the other occasion, my neighbour, unused to port. was sick all over the table. since which event I have declined subsequent invitations."
Sick humour, perhaps, but only a humourist could tell it in quite this deadpan man ner. Damn the book by all means but let us recognise that the old tycoon has a sense of fun. He that played the king could also play the jester.
NOBODY, least of all certain sections of the Press, came out of last week's enticement case very well. The space devoted to it in the Press by many newspapers was ludicrous, although their coverage can at least be defended on the lowest level by the simple axiom that sex sells papers. I find the judge's remarks to Mr. Vittorio Cclentano, the husband in the case, much less easy to defend. In his summing up Mr. Justice Baker had this to say of the husband : "No court, since this course of action began in the eighteenth century, would have dreamed of giving a husband damages on the story such as he has told.
"Sir Alan Herbert used more homely language when translating in 'Misleading Cases' a legal maxim beloved by lawyers, 'ex turpi causa non oritur actio' as the dirty dog will get no dinner here. "I venture to use those words in all seriousness. Although perhaps not judicial, they summarise what I think the position to be." In all seriousness I venture to suggest to Mr. Justice Baker that in future he should stick like a limpet to words that are judicial. The business of a judge is to administer justice and not to be shocked into using emotive and abusive language, no matter how justified. in civil actions. "Dirty dogs" and clean ones, too, cannot bark back at a judge during a summing up without risking contempt of court. Histrionics are, in every case. best left to thrusting young barristers.