Mother and son life of St. Matthew
AT 20 she hit the headlines as a witness for the defence in the Lady Chatterley case. At 30 Bernardino Bishop is now not sure that she should have defended the book at all—"it is such an obvious book and not a good example of Lawrence either". At 20 she was fresh out of Cambridge with an English degree and an ambition to write novels. At 30 she has written two, has been married, divorced and now finds herself coping on her own with two small boys.
"It's not so strange", she told me. "A lot of other women are in the same boat. What I regret most, I suppose, is the fact that there is no other adult who cares as much about the children as I do." A little awkward with people she doesn't know, Bernadine is an intense character with a redeeming sense of the ridiculous. Obviously intellectual she also has the intelligence to admit another point of view. Although she sympathises with their difficulties she hasn't much time for the priests who want to marry, not because she is bitter about marriage but be cause she feels they do not time realise how much tim and effort would be taken away from their ministry by having to be responsible for a wife and children. "Can you she said, half-serious, half-laughing, "what a priest would do whose child had been injured falling down do stairs while his wife was out shopping. So what if he was supposed to be saying would obviously tend He wiously tend the child first and leave his congregation to stew". Continually qualifying what she says she is bothered that she may not be getting her across thoughts acss but equally anxious that one should not misunderstand her. If anything, she appears humbled and very uncertain about everything except her religion and her children. "Itsounds funny to say that one's religion helps. The consolations of religion sound like something from a Dickensian deathbed scene. But I do find that there is a meaningful sense to life whatever is going on. "Life isgiven by God so the individual moments cannot be meaningless. There is something to be got out of every moment. It sounds awfully trite," she admitted sadly, "but I don't know how else to express it." Before her children were born she wrote her two novels and hasn't been able to get down to another since. "Since I have been in the child-rearing business I have been able to do little else. m She has already made a small start with a little book published this month. Written with her eldest son it is The Story of St. Matthew and was only written because Matthew, her was son, w very upset that there was no story about his patron saint. A book by St. Matthew wasn't the same thing at all. Realising that he had a good point Bernardine suggested that as there was no book about St. Matthew she and Matthew should write one. This they did between tea time and bedtime complete with and the result co simple, typically Mum-like sketches was sent off to a publisher by a friend. "When Iheard that Collins publish it were going to sent in some better drawings, but Mrs. Collins wouldn't have them. She said they would spoil the spontaneity of the book". Spontaneous is exactly how the book appears with simple writing rather than type and the kind of rough line drawings that mothers are forced to do for their children however hopeless they are as artists. "As there is nothing known about the life of St. Matthew except that he was called Levi we could make it up quite easily. We loved doing it and hope that others will enjoy reading it". If my own children are any guide, then this book will appeal to any children for its ease, simplicity and simple truths about Christianity.
"The Story of St. Matthew," by Bemardine and Matthew Bishop (Collins 6s.)