THE FRIENDS of Westminster Cathedral cannot surprise me, having once been part of a whizzbang entertainment inside the cathedral itself that may well have had the archbishop-elect reaching for his bicycle and back to sober scholastics.
Now they've come up with something I've never heard of but embrace with enthusiasm — A SILENT AUCTION. I look forward. any day now, to a Silent Concert, a Silent Recital and, most of all, a Silent Sermon.
Apparently, the Silent Auction is achieved by entering bids in writing on the form in the auction catalogue, available from the Friends from the first week in September.
This is well in time for their Guildhall Gala on the twenty third beginning at the astonishing hour of 11.30 a.m. and climaxing with a noisy auction at 8 o'clock that night.
Noisy is my word since I notice three insuppressibles will be aiding and abetting — Dickie Henderson, Henry Cooper and Bob Hope. This main auction includes some intriguing items, which will, I'm sure, tempt many of you to flutter a fan or lift an eyebrow in the direction of Sotheby's Mr Julian Barren.
Four stockbrokers independently •purchased about £600 worth of gambling stocks (penny shares) in April. What they bought is known to nobody except the individual who bought them.
There will be an item packaged as a box for four at Covent Garden for Samson and Delilah and dinner at the Savoy Grill: and a nomination to Blue Cashmere. a campaign sprinter and winner of the Nunthorpe Stakes at York, the Temple Stakes at Sandown and the Avr Gold Cup ... but. if I go further, you'll only think I'm trying to persuade you to take a look at the Gala yourself!
Lighten our darkness . . .
LAST TIME I saw Geraldine Fitzgerald was in New York. acting in a Eugene O'Neill play with the late Robert Ryan. Now she's in Dublin directing, to much acclaim. a play about a priest and a student titled, less than subtly, Mass Appeal.
Full first-night marks to all for surviving a second-act power cut that had the theatre in darkness for about an hour. Niall Toibin and Barry Lynch carried on for some time until an invisible decision was made to abandon radio technique and pray for light.
It happened to me (the plug being pulled, I mean), in less trying circumstances, a couple of years ago when, at London's Savoy Hotel, I was doing a live television interview with the legendary Bette Davis.
Actors and actresses must have some instant, in-built, nerve deadener, the great lady just carried on answering my questions as if disappearing interviewers were the norm.
'Open up — on the double'
THE FEAST of th e Assumption fell on a Saturday and we were over in the wild west of Connemara. Off we went in the sunshine to the little village church in Letterfrack with a beautifully designed crucifix. circled by thorns, above the altar, and lit ingeniously by sunshine through a simple slatted blind behind. Next day was Sunday, of course. So off we went in the sunshine again.
. What a drag for those who don't actually enjoy going to Mass. seem to count it more a penance than a party. I suppose it sounds smug to say I feel sorry for them — but I've said it anyway .
Later in Clifden. we all gave evidence of our normal Sunday virtue by not knowing what time the pubs opened. Inside a hotel. the bar was locked and dark. The lone receptionist was explaining the exchange rate to a German tourist, "Excuse me — what time is the bar open?"
A swift Irish smile. "If it s a drink you want — now.' ' And, in two minutes, it was.