You all know by now probably that Hugh Campbell died on 1 February. I hear he surprised himself by achieving his 70th birthday. I think I got his dates wrong last time. He joined the Priory in Poetry 1949 and left for Broome Hall in 1951. When exactly he left Philosophy, '52 or '53, I can't remember. Maybe Brian Geraghty can help. He and Hugh left on the same day. Hugh was a Priory 1 st XI goalie at a time when he had to share the blue jersey with Peter O'Brien, Chas Robinson and Frank Tortolano. I hear he died with a joke on his lips. There was a big turn-out at the funeral and Vinny Callaghan (who else?) organised the Scots boys who had known Hugh to go down to Bonnyrigg. And I hear his old classmate Jimmy Wallace concelebrated.
Hugh was a faithful attender at Pelican reunions. Zelda and I stayed at his house in August 1997 and talk about the host with the most! He was not well then but he could not do enough. He got us seats for the Edinburgh Tattoo and as we organised our plastic bags to absorb the soak, our names were announced to the crowd as likewise over BBC 1. Hugh's doing.
I know I am always saying "Think Africa!" (and you do) but his last days were spent in a hospice and you know the great work these people do. The director is Sandra McDonald at the Marie Curie Hospice, Frogston Road West, Edinburgh EH10 7DR. I'll say no more. May Hughie rest in peace.
I told you last time that I had acquired Fr D' Arcy's silent movie of the opening of St Augustine's. Harold Johnson, the Blacklion archivist, was kind enough to give me a copy.
What now, you ask? Well, Zelda and I had a couple of lunches with Fr Kevin Wiseman's sIster, and she told me she thought there had been a silent movie made of the ordination of her brother and the other St-Denis P.o.W.s (1940-44) at Jedburgh on 3 June 1949. I mentioned this to Peter Finn and Peter tracked it down at Sutton Coldfield. Fr Turnbull had the movie converted into a DVD. Nostalgia isn't in it. I think Derek Biewer, Frank Dillon and Chas Robinson were at that ordination.
Now you know Kevin Wiseman is famous for being arrested by the Gestapo and twice threatened with death by firing squad. We are now on the track of his reprieve which he told Celia was signed by Hitler. The White Fathers don't seem to have it so now we are thinking of the archives of the archbishop of Paris. Watch this space.
There's another WF movie 'Men in White' that must be out there. It was parodied by the Blacklion students as 'Men in Boots'. Does anyone remember Fr Maurice Pageault who taught HS at'sHeerenberg? It is he (and Fr Pierre Federle) who has helped me over the reprieve.
I am sorry to say there has been virtually no reaction to my setting up reunions for 2004 for a) The Priory 29 and 30 May; b) Dryburgh Abbey Hotel 1-3 October.
The rest is silence and I find it rather humiliating. I feel I am being forced into a Catch-22 situation. If I try to organise something, there is a total lack of interest; if I don't organise anYthing then you'll all be asking why not?
The big turn-out last year at Dryburgh was in response to a moanin' git letter. And wasn't it great! (Or that's what everybody said). But a moanin' git letter is its own form of Catch-22 (work it out).
If we can't afford The Priory or St Columba's, will you let me know so I can cancel in good time? I think we can do The Priory this year because we never manage more than a handful down there anyway. If Dryburgh runs into another wall of silence after this letter then I must have the good manners to warn the Hotel to cancel. I feel very sad about all this. I felt we'd turned a comer last year especially when Pat Gibbons stood up and made his financial report ("Think Africa!").
It's your Pelicans. Use'm or lose' em.