ONE of the most cheering prospects of recent weeks has been the publicity given to anti-car sentiments by eminently sensible and sensitive people. In October when the annual motor show comes round I usually fasten my mental seat belt and nerve myself to withstand the crashing comments and synchro-meshed idiocies of the car aficianados.
This year it has been different. I am not thinking only of the recent Panorama programme but of articles that I have read pointing out the hazards of cars and the beastliness that they bring to British life. It has always struck me as odd in the extreme that people will protest over Concorde or aircraft noise generally but will unthinkingly accept the constant danger, row and racket of cars. Yet I would settle for Concorde and all other aircraft cheerfully if we could clear all but essential traffic from our roads.
The car. unfortunately, is the only respectable licensed killer in our society : men and women who would think 'it immoral even to consider firing a warning shot in anger think nothing of driving their own families into the carnage that awaits them on the roads or buying vehicles that are capable of speeds that could wipe out not only their own but other innocent families.
I only hope that when our bishops issue their ethical guidelines they will have something to say about the morality of motoring, and particularly about the morality of manufacturing and buying cars capable of speeds that are virtually bound lo bring mutilation and death on public roads. Would life be any worse—or in the long run any slower—if no car was allowed in Britain that could travel at more than 40 miles an hour?
I must admit that these thoughts came to mind as I raged silently while waiting for my wife to collect me from the station, but they are none the worse for all that.
No vino for father
THAT Fleet Street wine bar El Vino seems to be forever in the news, If it is not being invaded by militant women (Vinogrettes) the management contrive to make the headlines and asses of themselves by refusing to serve perfectly respectable males because they are not wearing tics. One of the latest casualties in this sartorial war was a Catholic priest—Fr Tom Stack of the Catholic Communications Centre, Dublin.
When I first heard the news I thought that El Vino was merely being ridiculously logical by 'barring a tieless dogcollared priest. but the truth, according to the Evening Standard Diary. was. alas, merely prosaically ludicrous. It transpires that Fr Stack was wearing a jacket and poloneck sweater. In case some of its readers should have been scandalised by the swinging dress of this Irish cleric when visiting London the Standard added : "Father Stack frequently leaves off his priestly uniform, not as a method of disguise, but in the same manner that a G.P. might leave off his stethoscope." Well, yes! But how often do G.P.s wear stethoscopes and since When has a stethoscope been part of a doctor's uniform. I suggest the Standard Diary takes a second opinion before using this weird medical analogy again.
IT is a hideous irony that Canada of all countries should be supplying the world with one of the biggest and most vicious news stories of the year. For as long as I have been in Fleet Street it has always been accepted that Canada just isn't news.
Very few national papers keep permanent staff men in Ottawa : when the occasional Canadian story breaks either the "stringers" (local correspondents) cover it or the nationals send one of their men in the United States to do the job.
At one time when I was a foreign editor it was my duty and chore to ring up from London a certain correspondent in Ottawa every Friday evening to discuss news prospects and possible stories that would grip the mind of the Great British public. I cannot remember a single occasion when these transAtlantic conversations yielded anything of moment and finally I stopped even pretending to my editor that I was making the calls. I saved the paper a lot of money and the correspondent—now dead—a lot of useless work and heartsearching.
Today it is different. The news from Quebec is nasty and brutal. Let us hope it also is short and Canada can soon revert to being a journalist's, and not a politician's, graveyard.
"LEADERS of this paper will more easily get the measure and significance of the Conservative Party Congress held last week if they have the word aggiornamento in their minds and follow the analogy through to a reason able extent." The Tablet, October 17.
The new Tory Red,
Be really at home In a political Rome?
Or will Alec Home Be remotely at home In this type of Rome Or will he want to revert to being plain Lord Home?
Could it be said That Ted Was led By people like Norman Ste vas.
For whom life is all go.
AI a time of aggiornamento?
But whatever the case I can certainly see That St. John would be Really at home In almost any type of Rome.
Cynic in Rome?
DOUGLAS BROWN, the hawk-eyed assistant editor of the Sunday Telegraph, pointed out to me the other day that in the interim version of the new Roman Breviary, as translated into English. the hymn for the Office of Readings for the Feast of the Assumption begins: "Rise up, for the cheerless winter is over."
The Assumption, of course, falls in the middle of August. 1.s there, then, Douglas asked me, some English cynic among the faceless men in Rome messing about with our liturgy? If so, he has failed to co-ordinate his dates with Byron who wrote: "The English winter ending in July to recommence in August."