Page 7, 6th November 1981

6th November 1981
Page 7
Page 7, 6th November 1981 — Friendliness of the long-distance runner

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Organisations: White House, Royal Ballet
Locations: Belfast, Rome, London


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Friendliness of the long-distance runner

Keywords: Human Interest

ISN'T IT wonderful to think that summertime only ends when November comes knocking on the door. By now I suppose you've grown accustomed to the clock face and the gift of an hour of time. We early risers haven't, of course.

Addicted as I am to the early morning jog, trot or shuffle, wherever I am, it was literally a burst of sunshine to discover that I was no longer stumbling through the Stygian six am plus.

Clear frosty skies were smiling at me.

A very slight disadvantage presented itself at a certain London piece of greenery that sometimes has the privilege of my pounding plimsolls. The advantage of seeing was almost outweighed by the disadvantage of being seen.

A group of early morning workmen shouted and waved from the far side of the street.

I waved back, although speech was impossible at that stage. They shouted again and I waved back again, knowing that, if I stopped, I might never be able to start again. It was a warm, neighbourly feeling to have been recognised and greeted thus.

My stride began to increase ever so slightly until 1 realised ... gradually ... that I hadn't quite heard ... what they had been shouting.

Waxing lyrical about Wayne

WAYNE SLEEP is the electric little man who, night after night, astonishes and captivates the audiences at the smash hit musical CATS. When I first met him a couple of years ago on a television chat show he frightened the life out of me by jumping at me as a puppy or, indeed, even a playful cat might do and I was forced into an instinctive catch. It didn't occur to me then that I'd be telling something of his extraordinary story as, in fact. I was a week or so ago. Obviously, his lack of inches has restricted his ballet career, but how much more recognition can you get from the world of ballet than the plaudits he received from. for instance, Sir Anton Dolin, the legendary Margot Fonteyn, Dame Alicia Markova, and founder of the Royal Ballet, Dame Ninette de Valois, quaintly described by the London Times as of Protestant Anglo-Irish stock?

Strange how nature so often makes us long for just the very

things we can't have blue eyes instead of grey. clear skin instead of freckles, seashore instead or city. For Wayne, despite all his success, it was, and is. inches.

How poignant the picture of him as a student stretched on his hard bed, toes hooked into the end rail, arms around the top one, for ever wakening up hoping to find a few more inches had been stretched on somehow, and for ever being disappointed.

Cheer up. Wayne. you're a star, Little stars shine as brightly as big ones.

Reading room

SOME TIME last year. I remember reeling against the wall — cowering perhaps — following receipt of a letter front a lady in Belfast, who castigated my cowardice in hiding behind someone else's less than complimentary quote about Margaret Thatcher. What right did I have etc?

I only recall it now not to highlight yet again the enormity of the problem Wing those who would reconcile even North and South Catholics but to alibi myself for sheltering yet again behind someone else's quote.

For years, I have savoured that less than kind one about Bob Hope's golfing friend, the gentle Gerald Ford, former President of the USA. The report that the White House library had been burnt down, destroying both books including the one that Mr Ford had been colouring at the time.

Alas. I have only just now caught up with the joker who said Eisenhower wasn't able to read one day because his lips were chapped.

These foolish things ...

DIVORCE is a dirty word in Ireland at the moment. There is much confusion and quite a few serious Catholics tend to put the subject at a kind of fish on Friday level, if you know what I mean, it is permissible to be lighthearted about a sombre subject. 1 give you the English woman who has just been granted a divorce on the grounds that her husband was so obsessed With cr;cket he had no time for her.

I was reminded of my late old friend, boxing referee and broadcaster W. Barrington Dalby. whose wife Ella was greatly touched when he remembered their wedding anniversary.

"How did you remember it, darling?"

"I knew", blushed Barry, "that was the night Eric Boon boxed Arthur Danahar!"

Hairs and graces

WITHOUT knowing too much about Finland's recent history, I have long admired their courage, lying as they do next to the lion of Russia. Somehow this hero worship transferred itself to their President Urho Kckkonen. Now at 81, the grand old man has retired.

It was something of a shock to realise he was in his eighties but even more of a shock to see him briefly on television and discover he was a bald Kojak. I'm beginning to think of baldness as a very effective disguise. or else one man is playing many pans in our lives.

I can think instantly of Kojak look-alikes who are an Olympic swimmer, a United States ambassador, an English actor, a wrestler and a South American polo player.

Three and ninepence

I HAVE HAD some benefit off the Venerabile. When I was about seventeen I went on a school outing to Greece. On the way back they went to Pompeii. I tiresomely insisted on going to Rome for the day alone, and meeting their train home there. I saw the usual things and spent.what little money I had. Bold and ingenious child, I found the English college. I asked for the Rector who, I think was William Godfrey ("Uncle Bill" pronounced with a northern accent behind his back). Fortunately he knew my father. He later became Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.

He organised a high tea for the starving boy — two boiled eggs and bread and butter and jam. I then borrowed three shillings and nine pence off him which he handed over. My father most cermoniously paid him back.

have been kicking myself ever since. Why three and nine? I could easily have got ten bob. The rector saw that I caught the train.

GUESS which television personality she was talking about.

"He gets more anonymous the more often I see him."

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