"EVELYN had an inherent melancholia and he was prone to a devastating kind of boredom. Not a happy man by any means." This is how Christopher Sykes who has been chosen by Evelyn Waugh's family as his biographer remembers his friend. "But." he adds, "he had a very happy family life, and although he liked to play the part of the fierce. crusted military type he was, in fact, a wonderful friend to a great many people." Sykes, who was close to Waugh for many years, is himself the author of 13 books—fiction, biography, essays and modern history. He is at present working on the life of Adam von Trott au Solz. one of the 1944 conspirators against Hitler, and he is committed to the official biography of Lady Astor before he can begin work on Waugh.
Although, to many, Waugh appeared a die-hard conservative, Mr. Sykes says that he was a-political. "He disliked politics. especially Socialism and he was almost equally contemptuous of modem Conservatism." Of Waugh's well-known stand Mr. Mier against the liturgical reforms, he says: "Evelyn thought that the reforms were terribly unintelligently done. I don't think he would have objected to a certain amount of vernacular if it had been well done." flow does Mr. Sykes think posterity will rate Waugh? "Very highly indeed. He used language to perfection."
Freedom, Spanish style
yOUNG Christian Workers' leaders from all over Europe last week denounced the Spanish Government for banning the current issue of Govern the Spanish Y.C.W. paper Juventud Obrera (Working Youth) under its new censorship laws. The "offensive" articles had criticised the army and reported May Day celebrations in which many Y.C.W. members were arrested. But arrests and imprisonments are nothing new to the Spanish Y.C.W. A former national president, Jose Alzola, is one of many who have been jailed for holding views contrary to the Franco regime's official line of thought. In the case of Juventud Obrera, it was the Archbishop of Madrid who actually ordered the paper to be suppressed, on the recommendation of the Government. According to agency reports, the latter then threatened Y.C.W. members with "prison and death" if the issue was distributed. English Y.C.W. members tell me they have sent telegrams to their Spanish colleagues pledging their solidarity with them in their freedom struggle.
A RCHBISHOP ROBERTS, S.J., on Arch-cx bishop Roberts. S.J. That's the Archbishop talking about his biography. And he was doing just that at a luncheon of the "Men and Women of Today Club" last week. The book was published, he said, because the reforms of the Council are in danger of not being implemented. "It's easy to say 'this should be done and that should be done' but it's not easy to do anything at all when the idea of change is resisted by people who simply do not accept that this is the 20th century," Archbishop Roberts. Si., was written by "David Abner Hum'', a pseudonym that nobody has been able to break, though I hear that the author is, in fact, a distinguished Catholic writer, and it is at the Archbishop's request that he has remained anonymous. Someone did tell me, however, that the clue to the pseudonym may be in a family name of three generations past. Come on you genealogists!
Old, new, reproduced?
CONVERSATION overheard the other day: "I need a seven-foot statue for any church. Some
thing abstract out. Smnething old would cast around £10,000. The only answer is to comnzission someone to do sotnething traditional. and that's always dreary. We seem to be going through a restless period."
"Yes, terribly restless."
"But I do know a firm that will produce anything from a given period. Perhaps that's the answer. As a temporary solution."
"Yes, until art settle.s down. In a hundred years or so. perhaps."
"Only a temporary solution, of course. Any period you want. They'll do it for £500 to £1,000." Anybody got any other ideas for wasting 0,000 on temporary 100-year solutions?
An existential anchor
CATHOLIC HERALD contributor John Hor der he produced the recent interview with Gabriel Fielding—is a Hampstead poet whose first collection was published last Friday by Giles Gordon. It's called The Child Walks Around Its Own Grave. Ilorder, who is 29, became a Catholic last February. The Church, he says, attracted him as "an existential anchor". But it took him 18 months of probing and questioning his instructor Fr. Paul Thompson before he finally made up his mind. He has some amusing stories to tell about the embarrassments that face a convert to English Catholicism. His favourite is about the time he went to a reception given by Mr. Tom Burns for the German theologian Fr. Hans Kung. As Horder walked in the door he saw two men in suits and ties shaking hands with the guests. He was introduced to the first, Mr. Burns. After a few minutes he went over to the second. "I suppose you are Mr. Oates," he said. The man froze (Horder blushes) and drew himself up to his full height. "I am Hans Kung," he replied sternly. Horder was too embarrassed to continue the conversation. His poems he describes as "very raw and stark, almost coarse". He writes religious poetry but not the conventional stuff—"it's tough and uncompromising, designed to hit below the belt. All my poems", he says, "are about ontological insecurity. I want to explore the realms of truth."
Praying for truth
QS. PETER and Paul's day was just like any other for the CATool.n. 1-11-gat.o. There was the usual clatter of typewriters. the roar of the Fleet Street traffic and the banging doors. Until lunch-time, when instead of the usual exodus, the directors and staff gathered in the managing director's office for what is believed to he the first Mass in a newspaper office. Fr. Cheales of the Dominican Priory, Hampstead, was the celebrant, using a desk as the altar, About 30 of us joined the responses and read the Introit, Lesson and Gradual, etc. In the bidding prayers there was a special petition that the Cartioirc Hawker) would reflect "truth with charity" in all its reporting. We have always aimed at this. of course. The idea for the Mass, incidentally, came from a feature in the CATHOLIC HERALD three weeks ago in which Geoffrey Ainger, a Methodist Minister, suggested that much of the parish of the future would be based in places of work.
Splitting the Service
STILL on the CATHOLIC HERALD, STILL on the CATHOLIC HERALD, Miles, son of the paper's chairman, and himself a director, married Miss Jennifer Posford last Saturday, at St. Felix, Felixstowe. The wedding was unusual in that the Nuptial Mass for the family was in the morning, and the wedding for all the guests took place in afternoon.
Although members of the family came from as far afield as Australia and Paris the prize for "with it" travel must go to Mr. Laurence Orchard. managing director of Ever-Ready, who flew to the wedding— from his home in Denham. the
UNLIKE the Archbishop of Canterbury (who declined) I was not invited to the opening of the London's first Bunny Club. And to forestall the inevitable deluge of letters. I did not expect or want to be invited. I did, however, receive an invitation to the opening of the new Cavendish Hotel in Jermyn Street, London. I left with the impression that the Cavendish has scored in two important points. One is because the hotel has been built, equipped, staffed and opened in a period of 17 months. Bearing in mind the speed with which things are so often done in Britain, this must represent something of a record. Secondly, the hotel acknowledges that the pangs of hunger are not confined to the usually accepted "eating hours". It is to serve meats throughout the night, an innovation (so far as hotels in the West End are concerned) which will have enermous appeal particularly to foreign visitors, Perhaps London is really becoming a "swinging town" after all!
£50 for Susie
-FOLLOWING my piece about Susie Younger a week or two ago I have received £50 from well-wishers. Those who gave their names I have written to, and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking those who did not. Susie is at present on a retreat in Lourdes and she will return to England in September when she has a big fund-raising programme lined up.
Historically speaking . . •
IN or around the year 450 St. Patrick started Christianising Ireland by setting up the See of Armagh. Then, 140-odd years later at Canterbury, St. Augustine became the first Bishop of the English. More than 350 years after that, another important national conversion was sparked off by the baptism of King Mieszko of Poland. King Mieszko could not know what a furore this, his first simple act of devotion, would cause 1,000 years later in 1966—the struggle for power that has been going on this last six months between the Hierarchy and the Government in Poland. The recent development in the 1,000-year celebrations—the "storming" of the Communist Party headquarters at Warsaw—has come under criticism even from Catholic leaders as having been remote from the purpose of the millennium. But faced with the present Polish Church-State clash and the recent memory of the cold shoulder which the Government showed to so many wouldbe pilgrims, it would be a bold tongue that expressed doubts about the celebrations still trailing on. I will not be bold. But I will say that the more it goes on, the less this millennium seems like a celebration of Poland's Christianity and more like a massive boosting of her nationhood. And it was for trying to turn the celebrations into a show of nationalism that everyone was not long ago mocking the Gomulka bloc. Still. in 31 years' time we in this country will be celebrating 1,400 years of English Christianity. That will be a splendid opportunity to remind the world of what a fine nation we are.