Copy Search, Turns in His Diary tor Publication
Impossible, dear Editor, to write straight stories of this week-end's happenings. There have been so many; exciting, thrilling, chock-full of anecdotes.
Amid the gloom of a dreary first November week-end, a Holy Souls' week-end to boot, I have laughed, and nearly cried, I have been awed atNe bugle call at Requiem at which Free France mourned her martyrs, I have been delighted when my son, seeing me serving Mass, said I was a " good altar-boy" Shall therefore report my happenings in diary form. Briefly, and I hope snappily.
Here goes then.
Fire-watching : Serving Mass: Going to the Ballet (All Saints.) Had fire-watched at my parish church the night before. That means that I had gone to bed in the pleasantly heated cloakroom of the adjoining school, and bad half-slept, waiting for the sirens to go off. But they didn't.
For first Mass, as there was no altarboy, I served. Son remarked afterwards at breakfast: " Daddy serves Mass better than other altar-boys 1 know." This pleased me tremendously.
Went to office, rummaged through the mail in search of stories, followed them up by 'phone, and did the thousand-and-one things that all go to help to bring the paper out.
In the afternoon I went to Mr. Denville's theatre at Harrow, the New Coliseum, saw crowds enjoy the International Ballet, and thought the efforts of the Catholic Member of Parliament for Newcastle-on-Tyne at being funny rather flat.
Said Mr. Denville, when we met in the buffet: "Always a welcome here for anyone from the CATHOLIC HERALD, though personally, as you know, I am a Salvationist." Incidentally, I noticed that his theatre would be closed on Monday, All Souls' Day, and I wondered how many Catholic impressarios would be brave enough to stint their pockets in this way just for the sake of observing a Church solemnity.
Selling " Catholic Heralds ": Attending Youth Movement Association .
Went with my son to the coldest spot I know in London, that is to the corner of Ashley Gardens and Ambrosden Avenue, where right under the campanile of Westminster Cathedral we tried to sell the paper in a ruthless war being then waged on us by wind and rain. My teeth chattered, aqd my boy's face looked pinched. So I took him for a cup of tea to the C.W.L. but nearby.
Here, and riehlie too, I got roundly ticked off by a lady assistant, who said I ought to know by now that the but cannot serve civilians. Of course I knew it, but I asked her shiveringly to have pity on us. She did, and got us tea, and taking a liking for my boy, gave him a bar of chocolate.
We went back to sell at the Cathedral door, but the door-official thought I should have bad permission from the clergy to sell our CATHOLIC Hekareo. Feeling aggressive, I argued with him, whereupon he fetched a policeman, who admonished me sternly, let me go on selling, and smiled his forgiveness as he passed me.
We went in for High Mass, followed by the• scandalised official who saw me entering with a bundle of unsold papers under my arm. I felt I had to relieve his mind. " I'm not going to sell them inside," I explained, whereupon he made for one of the side-chapels, carefully examined the mosaics, gave me another doubtful look, and then went off.
After the Gospel I was startled by the great organ suddenly pealing forth for the
anernate verses of the Crean. As usual, none of the crowd joined in the singing, and I wondered why the Cathedral authorities still persist in endeavouring to rouse
their apathetic congregation to even a minimum of liturgical feeling.
After dinner I made for the White Fathers at Heston, where a group of people interested in the Youth Movement, together with the parish priests of the Borough of Heston and Isleworth, had foregathered to inaugurate an association to speed up and in part direct Youth Clubs and similar Schemes which are contemplated for the Catholics of the district.
I began to feel rather pleased with myself, as I managed to scrounge from a White Father some pipe baccy, of which I was short.
Reporting Requiems: Checking up on Canadian Soldiers (All Souls.) Two Requiems to report, both at Spanish Place. The first, at 10.30, for the Czechoslovaks, and the one at noon, for the Free French and said by a French chaplain, being attended by General de Gaulle, and by Mr. Eden. whose hair seemed greyer. A particularly impressive ceremony, I thought. French A.T.S. girls, looking very smart and "Anglaises " in khaki uniforms and forage caps, sat in the benches before me, and I wondered what exciting stories of adventure and escape from home-land some of them might be able to tell.
Suddenly, just before the Consecration of the Mass, there was a sharp voice of command, and sailors, soldiers and airmen at attention ,on either side of the tricolourcovered catafalque presented arms. Then a bugle, loud and awe-inspiring. sounded front the gallery at the back.
After the Communion some of the girls grouped themselves into a choir and sang to the tune of Stahel( Mater:
" Seigneur, Seigneur, des noirs tombeaux, Ecouic mower en sanglots La plainte de nos heros.
Pitie pour le ' col bleu. si cher, Mort tout sanglant sous le del clair Ott dans• sa tombe de ter_
Seigneur. Seigneur, dans les combat%. Vous souteniez res chers soldats, Quits reposent dans vos bras?'
The sermon in French by another chaplain was followed by the Absolution, when arms were again presented, the bugle sounded, and National Anthems sung.
I rushed off to the office to find two cheerful-looking Canadian soldiers leaving the building. who to all appearances hadn't a care in the world. But upstairs I found colleague, Grace Conway, almost in tears. She had let the soldiers tell her a story, as the result of which she parted with 3s. " I felt sorry for them," she explained when I remonstrated with her. Theirs had been the usual yarn about leave overstepped, a night spent in the crypt of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, passes stolen, nothing to eat, and now no money.
A few 'phone calls to the right people brought the explanation that the Canadian authorities were just tired of " helping such guys," and that as much as £40 had been spent on the likes of them by a certain official in order to tide them over temporary difficulties. We were mildly scolded. too, for having helped them, as we were assured no Canadian, stranded in London need ever go hungry.
But herein lies the germ of a story for a future issue, perhaps.
F. A. FULFORD.