IN an article I read the other day a well2known "Pop" singer was asked what it felt like to have been in the public eye for a year. "Not too bad," the young man replied. "Now that it is Christmas I find myself remembering all the people who liked rne. But in the New Year I will have to think about those that didn't and try to do something about them."
I find myself sharing his sentiments. Whitefriars has been in the eye of at least most of the readers of the CATHOLIC 1-1ERALD through aim last 51 weeks to the extent of about 70,000 words and in that number of words one is bound to make (and lose) quite a few friends.
To any aspiring columnist I offer this unsolicited advice based on the sometimes bitter experience of how easily friends can be lose The surest way, without a doubt, is to omit to publish the item sent in with all the good will in the world by the lady or gentleman who is quite sure that "this little piece about my friend Mrs. X will be of interest to you".
To say, by omission, that it did not interest you at all is to jeopardise a columnist-reader relationship not only because the lady or gentleman-concerned might in future skip all of Page 5 of the paper, hut more importantly they might never send you another item—and their next piece about a friend could be very, very, interesting indeed.
TO PLEAD shortage of space, no matter how genuine your plea, just does not work. This can often be regarded as insulting because the piece that did not get in—in the eyes of the person who sent it—is of considerably more importance than practically any other piece in that week's column.
The next most important hazard in the columnist's life is the printer. If he is not on your side, you may well end up.without a friend in the whole world.
If one of the gremlins which inhabit printing works quite innocently makes Mr. Macmillan into Mr. MacMillan then you can be certain that this much-injured party will not regard you as "must" reading in the future.
You will similarly earn the displeasure of any parish priest if that same innocent gremlin is responsible for the fact that last week's bingo party seemed to make a profit of only instead of £120.
Those we have helped
BUT as I said before, at Christmas time it is easier and more comfortable to think about the friends you have made. It is nice to know at this time of the year, for instance, that I can count on the friendship of Fr. Bernard Basset.
He wrote the other day to say that as a result ol one of our stories he was able to go to India with a cheque for £1,400 in his pocket—money that will be spent on the children in Er. Nevett's care in India.
I know, too, of an ex-prisoner and his family who will remember Whitefriars in their prayers because of the house and furniture which were made available to them as a result of an appeal in this column.
There is also the retired parish priest who has found a new home; the children in a small Cornish parish who now have a bus to take them to school; and the elderly lady who is able to propel herself around her home in a Whitefriars-sponsored chair.
This is not to mention numerous publishing houses whose sales of books must have increased as a result of a mention in the column, and a manufacturer of do-it-yourself stained glass window kits whose name I unfortunately lost and was unable to pass on to three different readers who had asked for it.
Lest I should appear ungrateful, let me make it clear that the friendships made, the thanks that have been extended to me during the year, have all been possible because of the unbounding generosity of Whitefriars readers. God bless you all.
Pace to face
"IT must be fun being a columnist." said the 2new girl who had just started work in our °thee. "Think of all the interesting people you meet , ."
Looking back on the year I must confess that it has been interesting. In these 51 weeks we have met—three Archbishops (one Anglican), numerous bishops, a half-dozen or so successful writers, several politicians, a man at the Foreign Office, the Director-General of the B.B.C., Lionel Bart, Dusty Springfield—and we have spoken to Mr. Evelyn Waugh.
I have not met—any of the Beatles, Mr. Harold Wilson, Agatha Christie, General de Gaulle, Dr, Verwoers1 or the nee. Messrs. B & K —but each of these will provide a challenge for 1965.
The most interesting people, however, are rarely those whose names are well known. Those 1 would most like to meet in the New Year are the quite ordinary (they would use this term— not me) people who through their love for the other "just ordinary people" around them, make every day an exercise in practical Christianity.
Theirs are the stories which give the greatest joy in the telling.
S0 much for Whitefriars whose weekly claim for space represents only a fraction of the colutnn.inehes of the CATHOLIC HERALD.
My editor, Desmond Fisher, spent a good part of the year away from base. He started off the year by getting out of his sick bed and, pumped full of drugs to keep his incipient pleurisy at bay, went off to the Holy Land for that memorable visit of Pope Paul.
"As a newsman's assignment," he told me, "it was one of the worst in a fairly travelled life, The arrangements were chaotic and getting a sttry home was a nightmare. But all the trouble was compensated for by the sight of Pope and Patriarch in that historic ecumenical embrace."
For the final three months of the year, Desmond Fisher was in Rome for the Council. He says he doesn't remember much about it— it was so difficult to keep abreast of what was happening that one had no time for storing up memories.
Pressed for reminiscences, however, he recalls an episode at one of the daily American Bishops' press panel meetings when a reporter put a six-marker to the experts. Would the new Council document on religious, he asked, put a stop to
practices like that in the convent-school his wife had attended where the girls had to queue up every night to kiss the Reverend Mother, complete with lapdog, good-night?
For once the panel was stuck for an answer.
MY colleague, Donal Musgrave, has confined his travelling (with the exception of one trip to Ireland) to this country. Not by any predilection towards the subject—he is a very sober young man—he has been concerned on more than one occasion this year with the problem of alcoholics.
This begin with that very dramatic and touching story he wrote after spending a weekend ith the down-end-outs of London. He still remembers vividly the stench of methylated spirits, the sight of a man giving himself a "fix", and the stories which he heard of man's noncharity to man.
After a later survey of the problem of alcoholism he was invited by the Salvation Army to a national conference on the subject. He came back deeply disturbed that whilst quite a lot was being done by others to rehabilitate those whose lives were being ruined by drink, there was no Catholic body actively concerned with the problem.
He later had the satisfaction of seeing a Catholic group take the initiative and get down
TV nightnuffes JTAMES GRAHAM, our television and radio columnist, was not in the most charitable of moods when I asked him to look back on a year of box-watching.
"If any of the old Scrooges at the 13I3C and ITv have nightmares this Christmas", he said, "they will have at least this consolation.
"The Ghost of Christmas Future will probably look exactly the same as the Ghosts of Christmas Present and Christmas Past. For television is stuck in a relentless groove and next year's TV promises to be very similar to the fare we have had this year and last year".
But he was able to recall some highlights which brightened his watching and listening hours: In drama—The Importance of Being F..arnest (ABC): In series—The Plane Makers (ATV); In outside broadcasts --The Climbing of the DM Tower (BFIC via Eurovision).
In religion—The " Living Your Life " programme on Fouraten—the story of worker-monks in Leeds (A HC).
In documentary—The Great War (BBC); In current alfairs--The ITN Election Coverage; In comedy—Square World (BBC); In radioBritten's War Requiem (Third Programme).
OUR theatre critic 'Prompter' was not even able to find this number of highlights after a year in which he has averaged three nights each week sitting somewhere in the first twenty rows of the stalls.
It has been a year of blood, sweat and tears he says—blood in plenty (murder plays, horror plays etc.), sweat among a number of talented actors and actresses who have had to work unnecessarily hard with dismally inadequate material, and tears among the same actors and actresses at reading critical reviews and playing before diminishing houses.
If there have been any tears shed among theatre managements, he assures inc that he has not an ounce of pity for them, He hopes—but is not at all sure that his hope will be fulfilled— that the men behind the theatre will devote 1965 to providing value for money.
In 1964, he feels, the theatre-going public has had a very raw deal.
He rernembers—"Poor Bitos". the play of the year; Olivier as Othello (in fact all the productions at the National Theatre); the young South Africans in "Wait a Minim"; the sets in "Camelot"; and Mr. Lionel Bart's brash but brilliant "Maggie May".
Ono-17a pleasure A HAPPIER year, it would seem. has been A—A• had by Freda Bruce Lockhart the CAFHOLIC HFRALD film critic. "Whenever it comes to choosing my ten or twenty best films". she writes, "I think that every year movies are getting better and better."
This, despite the fact that enemies of both, constantly shriek that "television has killed the movies".
She hastens to add that there have been, during 1964, some very had films. But she finds it easy to recall a round dozen that were quite outstanding.
In alphabetical order: Beeket, Charade, The Engagement, A Hard Day's Night, The Leopard (even dubbed). Lilies of the Field, The Long Day's Journey into Night (if only for Katherine Hepburras ''best ever" performance). Love with the Proper Stranger (Strictly "X"), The Lizards, Nothing But the Best (despite its apparent law stock at the Box Office), Pasazerka, Atidic Munk's posthumous, unfinished but magnific.II recollection of the war), The Pink Panther trot for• fun), Dr. Strangelove or How I Learned to Love the Bomb (despite political disapproval), Seven Days in May, Le Soupirant, Black Fox (with Dietrich's enlightened commentary).
Any one of the foregoing she would be proud and happy to see again. Other ineradicable memories of 1964 for various reasons are: The Silence, Ingmar Bergman's brilliant hateful ballad of two sisters. Goldfinger (for its place in today's folklore) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (for still further confirmation that the better these spectacular § of Ancient Rome become the more boring they grow),