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where old men click their teeth and chew on the good old days

Author/ contact:
Title
Author/ contact Title
Gerard Lenaghan Abbotsford Revisited    
Peter Collyer Before my memory fades . . . Maurice Billingsley A year in Gap
Mike Mearns Dryburgh Abbey Hotel Paul West Paul West writes to clear his conscience
Mike Mearns Food for thought Patrick Southall Looking back with gratitude
Robert Griffin The skiffle group Peter Briody Fr Tolmie's Bonfire Night
Iain Martin Ratho Eugene MacBride First Impressions
David Walker The Choir's trip to Rome Eugene MacBride The Ghastly Business of the Nature Club
Prof McMurray The memories come flooding back Robbie Dempsey The Photograph
Michael Gallagher The fire at St Columba's Eugene MacBride Remembered with Affection
Paul West Mnemonics still working after 50 years Olivia O'Dolan Memories of Blacklion
Mike Mearns The 3rd declension Peter 'Prof' McMurray Exit Stage Left
Mike Mearns Bunny McGrath and other stories Tim Pascall Fr Bernard Duffy
John Byrne Oh yes, I remember it well John Byrne Music, Maestro
Eugene MacBride Fr Patrick Boyd WF Mike Mearns Vince, Pat and Kerry
Robbie Dempsey Memorandum to Rev Fr Bernard Duffy Vincent Celano Early Memories of Heston Parish
Paul West Broadcasting to The World Robbie Dempsey Philosophy in Blacklion
Paul West After Q.224 I knew I was a gonna . . . Wim Hofman My noviciate at Broome Hall 1961-1962
Mike Mearns Bedlam, Movies and Leaving John Conlon John remembers his days in Malawi
Wim Hofman The lake at Broome Hall Mike Mearns Dancin' the night away
Gerard Lenaghan The Ghost of Father Icas Mike Mearns A Pressing Matter
Gerard Lenaghan A Seasonal Reminiscence Paul West On a Wing and a Prayer
Michael Goodstadt Lasting Impressions Eric Creaney MAD Day
Fr Ben Henze, MAfr The Laughing Jesus Fr Geoffrey J Riddle, MAfr Another Geoffrey's 50 years in Africa
Michael Mearns Fr Geoff Riddle Michael Mearns It was only an English textbook but . . . .
Maurice Billingsley Brown Enamel Teapots Peter McMurray The Truth Is Out There
Richard Collins A Snapshot of Catholic England in the 1950s Abbot Cuthbert (Peter) Johnson Address of Dom Cuthbert Johnson given to the Reunion at park Place May 2012.












14th April 2004

Peter Collyer


" . . . before my memory fades, which it does frequently now I am 73 years old!

While at The Priory 1947/8, John Baker produced "The Mikado" which provided a tremendous amount of fun, entertainment & a lasting fondness for Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. I was one of the Japanese nobles & our many rehearsals are still remembered. I think Frank Mackle played the Mikado with his deep bass voice? Katisha was a scream ..... ?

I was a newcomer that year, just there to do Latin in preparation for Philosophy at Broome Hall the following year, as I already had my Oxford Matric at St Joseph's, Beulah Hill the previous year. Fr O'Sullivan kept many of us entranced during evening recreation with his wonderous Irish stories & Bro Paul Anthony came a near second, especially on Haloween down at the cemetry! (Complete with sheets lit with torches inside). Soccer matches against the Staff & Bishops Waltham Village lads were also highlights of the year. Frank Mackle's shoulder charge at full back on Fr Andrew Murphy, about to shoot at goal, was indeed memorable with Fr Murphy rising out of a rather large cow pat left behind by one of Bro. Paddy herd.

With Fr Murphy, ex Scottish Amateur full forward, in the Priory team, the Village did not stand a chance!"
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Memories of The Dryburgh Abbey Hotel from Mike Mearns (21st September 2003)

Ah the Dryburgh Abbey Hotel! We used to gasp in 1953 and say that it cost a pound a night to stay there! Of course only Americans could afford that huge sum. In 1973, Kay and I had a holiday in the UK and decided on a few days alone and away from family. So we went to St Boswells aaaaaand . . . . stayed at DAH.

Being all North American by now, we had booked a room with ensuite bathroom, which was then the rarity in Britain, and found the cost very reasonable. We visited around the area and went to the old haunts (in the valley etc).

After our first night we went down to breakfast, dressed in jeans and sneakers, were asked for our room number and on saying " Number 1" were asked to show our key and give our name. After a little scurrying around and whispering, we were ushered to a table in a bay window with a magnificent view of the sweep of the Tweed as it curved from the footbridge to the Abbey. Obviously at that time Room Number 1 got Number 1 view. So there we sat in all our colonial scruffiness among the cavalry twill, tweeds and twinsets and pearls.

Long live the Revolution
.
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Food for thought — Mike Mearns (April 4th 2004)

I saw the posts from Kerry Bagshaw and "Prof" McMurray and noted that they both had food connections, albeit Prof was growing the stuff! Looking back I noticed more food references - black pudding, fried cheese, etc. The Tuesday supper of soup is my own strong recollection, along with Peter Jackson's comment ( with a strong Burnley accent) on the slice of beef ( slightly rare) one Sunday: What do they think we are bloody damn lions!

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Skiffle Group — Robert Griffin (Bob) formerly known as Robin (June 23rd 2004)

I was briefly skimming through the messages on the site when I saw a message from Mike Mearns in Calgary concerning that neophyte but very entertaining 'skiffle group' at The Priory in '57/'58.

I gave a few suggestions of who we were and who strove to play which instruments,however, time dims the memory. Tony McCaffrey played the tea chest bass, I played percussion(an old car headlight with cow hide stretched over it and a wooden head chopping block from backstage in the gym) and I think that Finbar Fitzpatrick and Paul Ashby played guitars. Terry Petit came in one day and said we needed more volume, so he sang and played 'the sticks'.
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Ratho — Iain Martin (May 28th 2004)
We young pups, who were at the Vocations Centre at Ratho in the late 60's and early 70's, had our own fire too, in keeping with the traditon begun at St. Boswell's. Our fire just consumed the new gym though, recently constructed by volunteer parents, and the friends and family of Fr. George Smith. I recall fondly the carol singing in Kirkcaldy Hospital, followed by munchies at Bro. Mike's sister's house, singing Bro. Mike's composition in the Albert Hall, at Folkfest '74, playing the harmonica atop Ben Nevis, and , of course, the annual camping trips to Canna.........Ah, those were the days !
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The Choir's trip To Rome — David Walker (April 6th 2004)

I studied at St.Boswells from 1959-61 and at The Priory, Bishops Waltham 1961-64. I was a member of the St.Columba's Choir that represented the UK in Rome 1960, including singing the Mass in St.Peter's Basilaca with Pope John XXIII.

Our Choir Director was the legendary Father JD Conway, who I am sure is no longer among us. On 30.12 1960, we took part in a concert at the Palazzo dello Sport with 4.500 singers. The concert was transmitted via Eurovision and also recorded by RCA Italia. The WF Choir is on the CD with several solo tracks. We all ordered copies of the LP recording, but before they we received them, they were all destroyed in the St.Boswells fire of Summer 1960 (??).

The record was produced in a 1 off run and couldn't be reordered. For 40 years I have wanted to hear the record - now after more than 1 year of research via Internet I have found someone in Germany with a copy of the record who has made me a CD copy and photocopies of the record sleeve, including a photo of the choir taken in the Chapel of St.Columbas. It arrived today and I am over the moon with joy at hearing the voices of 44 years ago. If anyone out there is interested in a copy of the record, please get in touch via email
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The Memories Come Flooding BackProf McMurray

Tony McCaffry - Carlisle station Boxing Day 1953. Snowed in, freezing cold and not a sign of trains or staff, or anyone else for that matter. Caffo was rescued by a Rotarian friend of his father. The rest of us sat and froze. Suddenly after some hours a train with steam up and pointing South appeared on a distant platform. We were on it without hesitation.

It eventually stopped in Crewe; the driver probably lived there. Same procedure, no rail staff anywhere so we boarded anything pointing South that had steam up.

Birmingham New Street station was finally reached at midnight, by which time I think mum was worried, I was just hungry. Who were those other guys? Jim McDermott and Gerry Short perhaps?

Mike Mearns - The Canadian forests must be quaking. Big Mick shattered so many mattocks that we were banned from stump removal on the inner driveway. However not before my personal excavation had nailed the milk truck.

Brother Paddy - Remembers the water being boiled, so do I. Every ounce (sorry millilitre) of the cold water supply was boiling. Great geysers of steam and water shooting out of the roof attracted a small but animated crowd.

Father Moody was well pleased! (Not). I, the accidental culprit so to speak, decided that a period of meditation in the far hedge below the cricket pitch would be most beneficial. I understand that the football team has never been bathed more quickly before or since.

Father Fitzgerald - I have my own copy of Carmen Jones now plus Mahler, Mendelsson, Mozart et al and my other favourite, jazz from Miles Davis and Charlie Parker to Louis Armstrong.

John Fowles - I can still see the golden syrup tin collapsing as he demonstrated the effects of steam and pressure. Why did I not work harder and get GCE science for him. He tried so hard for us.
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The Fire at St Columba's — Michael Gallagher (November 2nd 2003)

Today is the 40th Anniversary of the Fire at St Columbas which is featured on Page 14 of the Histories Section.

I still vividly remember us all standing beside the football pitch wearing short trousers and long socks watching the building everything we owned going up in smoke - we were left with the clothes we were wearing.

Greetings to anyone who was there on the morning of 2nd November 1963
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Mnemonics still working after nearly 50 years — Paul West (7th August 2004)

Fr Pat Fitzgerald was my Latin teacher at The Priory, 1955 - 57. He believed in a very structured approach to his subject and, as I remember it, every lesson involved at least ten minutes of revising the grammar we had previously learnt.

Do you remember conjugating verbs and declining nouns and adjectives ?

(Not that you'd dare to decline to answer, of course).

He gave us a couple of mnemonic codes for rembering some of the more obscure rules, one of which has stuck in my mind for nearly half a century:

" DIMP VC P" —
which stood for Dives, Inops, Memor, Pauper, Vetus, Compos and Particeps.

I could see you all nodding wisely as I wrote that — and affirming that the ablative case of these third declension adjectives all ended in 'e' .

Makes for a hell of a party piece, I can tell you, particularly when you want people to go home now, please.

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Mike Mearns replied (25th August 2004) :

Further to Paul's reminiscence on Fitzy's mnemonics, who can supply the next two lines?

The genders of declension three
From each word's ending we can see.

Note the use of the apostrophe! Thanks to "Oliphant" and Johnny Fowles

Bless 'em all.
MIKE.


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Maurice Billingsley writes 5th September 2004:

It was a privilege to spend a year in Gap and to be given such a good grasp of French
as well as the life in community. I guess it was part of the process of
opening up the training, moving away from the cloistered 'noviciate' of past
times. Even so, we were kept pretty busy. Things like SVP and joining the
local football club and helping out with disabled youth meant we were rather
more 'in' the local community than I think people at Broome Hall had been.
Then we had a crowd of Spaniards, heady with the joy of being out of
Franco's Spain - and in one case at least, a lot better at football than any
of us, to the extent that he remained at the club and was found a job by
them when he left the WFs!

One abiding memory, which anyone who knew him could see with the mind's eye,
is of our dear Provincial, Bernard Duffy, preaching in French, with his
unaduterated Halifax accent, trying to make eye-contact with the
congregation as he bobbed from one side of the lectern to the other. Hank
was, of course, invisible when he was square behind it, so the effect was
rather like a puppet show. Never seen so many hankies stuffed into mouths in
one room... What the sermon was about, of course, is completely lost in the
sands of time.

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Paul West writes to clear his conscience (11-09-04) :

How did Shiny manage to purchase a new discus in 1956
when, by all accounts, Fr Coghlan (the Procurator) was struggling to keep the place going on a budget of so-many-pennies-a-day per person ?

Wasn't this the year when the boiler packed up and the only way to keep warm was to take a cold shower ?

Maybe, maybe, but one day it was announced that a discus had been bought and that people were welcome to use it any time. So I was the first to scoot up to the Fathers' House and knock on John Fowles' door. And there it was: a heavy wooden discus enclosed along its perimeter with a steel band — brand spanking new and ready to fly.

So I raced down to the Mine with a couple of friends to try it out. We absolutely loved it ; when you got the angle right and the power behind it, it took off like a flying saucer skirting the heavens.

This was now going to be the way in which I would make my mark in life (given that Charlie MacLaren looked more likely than me of becoming world heavyweight boxing champion). So I settled into my stride, taking turns to perfect the action of swinging, lobbing and falling over, then swinging, lobbing and falling over again.

How my companions fared, by comparison, I do not remember — or whether they gradually slipped away to leave me to my quest to beat the world record for 14 year olds. But right in the middle of my discus dream there was an ominous crack that rang out from across the other side of the field, making rabbits across the county sit up to smell the danger.

It had hit one of the tree stumps with great force. I rushed over in panic to retrieve it and found, to my horror, that the wooden part had snapped right across and the two pieces were barely held in by the metal hoop.

This was the second occasion in my first year at The Priory when I found myself weighing the balance between running away or staging my suicide.

Needless to say, when I trooped back up to John Fowles's room in shame, he was an absolute gent. He probably said something such as "these things happen" or "we'll see what we can do". But he also had the wisdom to know that here was one skinny kid who would remember what an utter bloody stupid waste of bloody stupid money it had been, for the rest of his life.

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Looking back with gratitude — Patrick Southall (29th September 2004)

I discovered the Pelicans website in July 2004 just as I was retiring from 41 years as a teacher. As I browse the site the memories are starting to flood back of my 4 years at St.Columba's and The Priory, 1954 to 1958. 
 
I look back with gratitude to my teachers at St.Columba’s and the Priory. They took on the task of teaching a grammar school curriculum to boys of mixed ability. Most of us had not passed the 11 plus. Most of us would not continue to prepare for the priesthood after several years, but the White Fathers always showed great concern to safeguard the educational prospects of every student whether he decided that he did had a vocation or not. They did a totally professional job not just in the classroom but in every aspect of a rounded educational experience including sport, spirituality, leisure, work-experience and character building.

Fr.James Tolmie was the superior at St.Columba's. He was a quiet man whose presence imposed total discipline. I once was caned by him when a group of us were rash enough to run along a corridor and unfortunate enough to run into Fr.Tolmie. He taught us folksongs; mainly Scottish though I still sing “Sarie Marais” in Afrikaans, “Die Fahne Hoch” and “Die Gute Kamerad” in German albeit with only a vague awareness of the meanings of the words. He taught us Scottish country dancing and sold us kilts which we wore everywhere, every day for the best part of a year. Over the years I have often told my family and friends about the year that I wore a kilt, inducted as an honorary sassenach member of the Mackenzie clan by my Scottish headmaster. Now, at last, I can show them photographic evidence (thanks to Bill Hart – Ref. Gallery page 109)   
 
Fr.Desmond Desrosiers taught us French. He made us learn La Fontaine's fable " Le Corbeau et le Renard" which I can still recite 50 years later. We were very impressed to be taught by a real French Canadian who also taught us how to play basketball.
 
Fr.Hugh Cronin taught Latin at St. Columba's. His nickname was "Killer" because of his tendency to lift miscreants from their desks using their cheeks as handles. He could say Mass faster than any priest I have ever heard, when he was saying Mass in one of the cupboard-size oratories with only one server attending.

Fr.Thomas O’Donnell (TOD) was Prefect of Discipline. I remember him as a perfect gentleman in every sense of the word.

At the Priory Fr. Hugh Monaghan (Jap) taught us French with steady good humour.

Fr. Alan Thompson was our history teacher. We knew him as “Thatch” on account of his thick golden thatch of hair. We imagined that his hair colour, identical to the nicotine stains on his fingers, resulted from his chain-smoking habit. He devised a system for passing O level history which was foolproof. He had analysed the questions set for the previous 9 years, given them ratings from one to five stars according to the frequency of their occurrence, and written model answers. If you had learned all the 5 star answers you could not fail O level history.

Fr. John Fowles (Shiny) taught use English, Religious Studies and Science. I too remember his demonstration of air pressure using a treacle tin filled with steam. He also liked to impress us with his ability to write on the blackboard using either hand with equal skill.

Fr. Bill Lynch was an inspired teacher of Maths He had the gift of teaching in a way that made you feel that you were discovering mathematical proofs and principles for yourself.

Fr. Patrick Fitzgerald was Prefect of Discipline and our Latin teacher. I recall his practice of testing us at the start of each lesson on the grammar set to be learnt during the previous lesson (Ref. Reminiscences – Mnemonics). Does anyone else remember the connection between Fitzy’s revision testing and his cabbages (Ref. Histories - Page 25 - News in Brief – Alarm)? During the Year of the Cabbage, 1957, conscript workers were needed to tend to the hundreds of cabbages. Detentions imposed for failure to learn whatever had been set for Latin homework provided a steady stream of workers. These cabbages needed hoeing, weeding and watering. Water had to be carried in buckets from a trough at the edge of the kitchen garden along the rows and a prescribed amount administered to each plant.

I will always have a vivid memory of Gerry Short, in a Latin lesson, attempting to decline Hic, Haec,Hoc in its 30 forms (3 genders x 5 cases x singular and plural). Based on previous performances, we all knew that Gerry would not make it. Of course Fitzy knew this as well, but the weather had been particularly hot and dry and those cabbages were very thirsty. Gerry desperately staggered as far as the masculine, nominative, plural “Hi” followed by a hopeful guess, “Ha” followed by Fitzy’s triumphant “Ho, ho, ho” as he secured another worker for his garden. Gerry Short probably contributed more to the health of those cabbages than any other student.

The cabbages provided us with both healthy nutrition and motivation to learn our Latin grammar. But, as suggested in “Histories” (referred to above) the amount of cabbage far exceeded our capacity as consumers, even allowing for the fact that it was on the menu almost every day. But the cabbages were not wasted. I recall how Dick McKenna was given the job, during daily manual work, of cutting up mounds of surplus cabbages to prepare them for feeding to the livestock on the farm. He was provided with a large, sharp machete to chop these cabbages. At the time his left arm was injured and in a sling but it was felt that he could do this job with the use of only one hand. Dick could always extract some fun from any task and he perfected the skill of holding both machete and cabbage in his right hand, throwing the cabbage into the air and slicing it before it hit the ground. At the time I worked on the farm during daily manual work and was entertained and impressed by this performance.

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Jimmy Tolmie's Big Bonfire Peter Briody (3rd October 2004) :

On Nov. 5 1953, Jimmy had organised a Guy Fawkes bonfire - a very big affair indeed. As I remember it, that was the first time GF had been hotly honoured at St.Columbas.

It was well known that down in St Boswells GF would be remembered by burning an effigy of the Pope.

Well as the fire built up, Jimmy said,
"Stand well back boys, so that the people in the village can see it. Our bonfire is much bigger than their's. Up here the whole countryside will be able to see it. That will give them something to think about"

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First Impressions Eugene MacBride (5th October 2004) :

I started at St Columba's on 8th March 1950, my mother's 47th birthday.  My aunt Cissie took me down there and we left the railway station and began the trek to the college.  Within moments a car stopped and we got a lift to the front door steps.  Brother Dunstan (for it was he — in his working habit) came bounding down to welcome us. Within minutes I was in the Fathers' parlour and moments later in the refectory.  There was a big celebration going on.  Fr Bouniol was there, celebrating 50 years of priesthood and Fr Walsh (later Bishop) 25.  Lunch was over but I was served ice cream. Jarlath Hynes mounted the podium to recite a monologue about the Battle of the Boyne;and the whole refectory burst into song with Green and Yellow :

                      What colour were those eels, Henry my son?
                      What colour were those eels, my pretty one?

We emerged from the ref and to my horror, Cissie was gone.  They had got rid of her for fear I should have an emotional crisis.  John Kelly took charge of me and we walked down to the football field adjoining the road that led down to the swing bridge across the Tweed.  The Irishmen had got their hurleys out.  John indicated Fiacra Fahy: "He's unstoppable." he said.

Fr Boyd had told me the 9th March would be a holiday.  I was unpacking up in the dorm and somehow I felt free to communicate what I had heard.

Jimmy Johnston: "Who told you that?"
Me: "The priest with the big nose."
Johnston: "Hawkeye!"

I was in the party that went down for milk that night in the dark to Colonel Peake's (the farm).  The college was lit-up as we came back.  No screen of trees in those days.  Andy Murphy was just trying to put them in.

March 9th was my first experience of being wakened with the "Benedicamus Domino" (Dan Sherry on duty), the Morning Offering on your knees beside your bed, and the rush downstairs to the basement to wash.  It was cold water only, 8 or 10 basins, and you had to queue behind the chap in possession, observing the Grand Silence all the while.  The regulator (Tony Guilfoyle) rang the first bell for Morning Prayers and you had to be in chapel before he rang it again. 

Mass was already in progress at the main altar and the two altars at the back.  These Masses were normally being said by Fr Tom Conway and the propagandists like Fr Robinson and Joe Rice.  Brother David (Jimmy Kennedy?) and Brother Dunstan (Vincent Martin) were the servers.  Brother Dunstan's place in chapel was exactly behind mine.  It was rumoured he knew the Imitation of Christ off by heart.  I didn't know the priests had been up since before 6 o'clock and done a 45 minute meditation after Morning Prayers.  Our Morning Prayers were led by the priest on duty.

I was in a group walking to Melrose Abbey.  It comprised Martin Hickey from Cork (vice-captain), Ged Wynne from Edinburgh (one of the prefects), Jimmy Johnston, the school messenger (Shotts), Ray Donoghue (Edinburgh) and Eddie Mulraney (Uddingston).  Perhaps Tom Hennessy (Warrington) was with us also.  I queued outside the kitchen for my rations and spoke with Antony Warom.  I think I learned the WF doctrine of Raro Unus, Nunquam Duo, Semper Tres that 9th March 1950.  The WFs led a community life and all else was to be sacrificed to this ideal, even souls!  On the way home, the group split into two factions, Hickey and I, Hickey shouting abuse at the other lot, while I laughed at him.  Outside the police station was a poster warning us to keep an eye open for the Colorado Beetle.  Back at the college, Fr Sherry would not let us in.  I think I had planned to write home and I was shattered.  I went round the back of the propagandists' hut and sat facing the Eildon hills, homesick to the core.

Friday 10th March was my first day of classes.  Walter Perry (Warrington) asked me would I like to go down and inspect his rabbit snares.  He was a big powerful boy (rugby league) and I felt it better to accept his invitation.  The Tweed was away down below Waller's rabbit run.  Classes had begun when we got back upstairs.  I accompanied Waller (he prefers Wally nowadays) to the long study hall at the end of the upper floor above the chapel.  It had a bay window looking out on the Eildons.  Standing on a platform obscuring the lovely view was Fr Boyd.  To his left was a blackboard on an easel.  The boys were chanting: Amabam! Amabas! Amabat! thundering it out.  They were my first words of Latin.  Then the whole thing stopped so that Hawkeye could begin on Waller.  I stood there, secure in my righteousness.  It wasn't my fault. Waller knew he was in the wrong and took it like a man.

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The Ghastly Business of the Nature Club
by Eugene MacBride — 7th October 2004


The ghastly buiness of the Nature Club arose one evening at Spiritual Reading in the chapel.  Andy Murphy, who was making a magnificent job of laying lawns to beautify the college and planting firs to mask it, proposed that we were insufficiently informed about nature and its works.  We should form a Nature Club.  Just like that! 

So we formed a Nature Club and for some reason, utterly unintelligible, I was elected president.  I don't even know how we went about it.  But everyone flocked to join.  We had no constitution, no terms of reference, no idea what were about at all.  Andy took no interest in us and I had neither Pat Boyd nor Dan Sherry to help me with any idea of what happened now. 

The next Murphy initiative was get us to found a Scout troop.  The Scouts at once found themselves in deadly enmity with the Nature Club, whatever we'd done to deserve that.  Jimmy Johnston thrust a leaf under my nose and challenged me to identify it.  But I couldn't.  Ha!  Some nature club!  

Jarlath Hynes (who had a dreadful temper and could draw blood of an instant with his fists) became troop leader.  The membership of the Nature Club frittered away till there was no one left except myself and secretary Ralph Lanni. Then I crossed over, leaving poor Lanni as the Nature Club's sole office bearer.  I remember a Scouts' outing to Abbotsford when Hynes sat on the crest of a hill and mouthed loud Irish threats, foam-flecked, against the Nature Club.  If I had not defected by that time, I certainly felt utterly isolated. 

It was an ugly time and I became ugly with it.  One wretched boy, Terence Supple, took refuge the whole of one Saturday afternoon in the chapel to escape Fiacra Fahy's fists, whatever the poor fellow had done to deserve them.  I felt a thrill, not pity, at his predicament.
 
Then the stealing began.  There were two John Kellys in the college: Kelly Scots and Kelly Irish.  Kelly Irish was detected as the guilty party.  The mob wanted to close in for the kill and I wanted to be part of it.  I think wee Kelly's parents were sent for and arrived to take him home. He went back to Dublin but the stealing went on and on (even when we reached the Priory in September). 

It was Jarlath in 1992 who told me what had happened.  He and Denis Shields, two prefects, were assigned (by Pat Boyd) to search the dormitory during recreation after lunch one summer's day.  They had hardly started when P.Y. appeared, begging to get something from his locker.  Hynes was adamant but P.Y. was a good friend of Shields and Denis relented. 

P.Y. did what he had to and when he was gone, the incriminating evidence was found under either Kelly Irish's bed or in his locker, I can't remember which. As I say, we moved on to the Priory, and I myself had a parcel from home stolen from my locker which P.Y. had seen me put there.  He spent a term at Bishops Waltham but was careless again and a search of the junior dorm during the Christmas holidays found him out.  He never came back. 

Once the Pelicans were under way, Jarlath wanted to go on the Gay Byrne show on Telefis Eireann in an attempt to locate Kelly Irish and apologise.  Pat Boyd could remember nothing at all of the incident.

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The Photograph — Robbie Dempsey (7th October 2004)
Robbie Dempsey remembers young Andy Murphy ( the nephew of Fr. Andy Murphy).

The other day I went to the 'Instant Photos' shop in Dublin, thinking of their marvellous processing facilities, and the following conversation took place. I wasn't happy with a particular photo I had. (see left)

Hello, sir, how can I help you ?

Well, it's like this. I'd like to get this photo enlarged.

Enlargements are no problem. We'll have it for you tomorrow.


This is the only photo I have of my dear friend, Andy . . . . and, well . . . . he died recently, so I'd like to have a picture . . . .

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, I'm sure. Let's have a look. Enlargements are no problem. But, this photograph has about two dozen kids on it !

Yeah, that's Andy, there. And, I thought you could just crop out a smaller piece there, around the middle, and enlarge it.

Well, we'll do the best we can. It'll take a day or two.

Now, there's a few little things on the photo. It's a black and white photo, and I'm wondering if you could colour it ?

Hmmm. No problem ! We'll colour it in and brighten it up. That'll take about three days.

Great stuff ! But. 'Em, as you can see, this was taken at a school, and I'm not in this one. I was standing behind the guy with the camera.

Is that so ?

And, so I was wondering if you could sort of cut out around that lad, him there, you see Andy has his arm on his shoulder. And then put me in instead ? Here's a picture of me.

Well, that might be bit difficult. You could always just cut it.

No . . . . Andy would only have one arm, then.

Hmmm. We'll get the artist to crop out that guy so. And you on this one. Good ! Let me see, now, for a second. You want the photo enlarged, crop out around Andy, change the black and white to colour, remove that other guy, and put you in. That could take three weeks.

Yes. Now, I'm sorry to bother you. There's something else. Do you see those trousers ? Well, Andy absolutely hated those short trousers. We all did. Maybe you could put us in long trousers ? The long grey flannels will do.

Well, we could try that. Is there anything else ?

Now, there's just one thing. Do you see those old grey shirts ? Andy has a smart white one. Well, we just hated those grey shirts. They were made of old ships' sails and you could pick potatoes and break stones while wearing one of those shirts. The same shirt would last you for two years. Is there anything you could do about those ?

Now, hold on a second. It'll be difficult to change the shirts. What we'll do is: we'll get the artist to paint in a few flowers on the shirts. Ok ?

Very good. That's a great idea. Now, there's one last thing. Do you see that fire escape ? We weren't allowed anywhere near that fire escape. You'd be in big trouble for playing around on that. It's a good job there wasn't a fire ! So, listen, instead of a fire escape could you place, say a nice motorbike, in the front there ?

I suppose we could.

That's marvellous !

Right so. Let's run over this again. You want the photo enlarged, crop out around Andy, change the black and white to colour, remove that other guy, and put you in, all with the long trousers, and the flowery shirts, and put in – a Harley-Davidson. Ok, we'll have a go at this. This'll take about three months !


Thanks very much.

That's all right. Grand. Now, just for the artist. I'll have to indicate which kid is Andy.

But, sure he'll see that when he takes his trousers off.
Didn't his poor mother have to spend hours sewing his name onto all his clothes !



With acknowledgments from R.Dempsey to the Grace.

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Rembered with affection — Eugene MacBride (December 2004) :

When I arrived at the Priory in 1950, Tod was procurator, a very difficult job indeed, given the pittance that Pop Howell and Frank Briody allowed him per pupil. There were harmless jokes about Tod having baths in our butter ration and a revised Grace, "We give thee thanks, almighty Tod . . . "

He taught us Scripture (OT) and we had to compare the building of Solomon's Temple with the various erections on the Festival of Britain site on the Thames south bank (1951).

I overheard him one day tell Cyril Brown how the priesthood virtually ensured your salvation.

I have a memory of him in overalls, cleaning out the blocked sewer near Tich Moran's door.  He was not a pretty sight.  Nowadays it would be a job for Dynarod but Tod was releasing the blockage with bucket and shovel. 

Like his pal, Kevin Wiseman, he was a cyclist par excellence.  He had a racer with an aluminium frame which he painted black as less likely to be stolen in Winchester or Botley.

He went to Broome Hall in 1954 and took over at St Boswell's in 1955, I think.  Didn't he go to the missions in 1958?  He was a very good friend to us Pelicans.


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Blacklion Days — Olivia O'Dolan (19th December 2004)

Fr Packy Haritty is conected to my family through my late mother and his late mother. They were second cousins — as was Bud and Caith's mother in Blacklion.

I put a message on the Pelican Message Board recently, regarding Fr Packy visiting us here in October. He is now based in Preston where he was (at that time) looking after older retired missionaries and helping out in local parishes.

I live with my sister Mairead and my brother Charlie. Eugene and Zelda called to see us in July after Cemetery Sunday where there was the blessing of the graves at Killinagh Blacklion, where the late Peter McKenzie is buried. I remember that day well in mid summer 1963.

We had a young nephew drowned in same lake in Jan 1970. He, Myles and an older sister Aine and younger brother John were playing at the lake beside their home near Belcoo. Myles, aged seven years, went on to the ice not knowing that it was thin, he fell into a hole in the ice. Fr Lewis, Fr K.O'Mahoney and Bro Paddy were very good to my brother and his wife and family around that time and for a long time after that, calling down to visit the family at Rusheen from St. Augustine's Blacklion when they were free.

. . . . Mairead who was in Legion of Mary in our parish would have some of the students from St Augustine's help to entertain at the old peoples homes in Enniskillen in mid 1960s. I remember the three boys who called themselves '' The Slope John B Trio'' They sung lots of Clancy Brothers songs. One was named Michael O'Challaghan from Co Cork. Mairead who helped organise these small concerts recalls that she had to have the boys back in St Augustine's before 9 pm as Fr Maguire, the Rector, was very strict on their being back on time. She always adhered to this.

The late Fr John Havlin who was CC Belcoo in late 1960s, had a great interest in drama. He brought some of the students into plays. One young man I recall played the part of Curly in ''The Country Boy''. The boys also came to Belcoo P. School to help with drama, singing and music.

The pantomime at St Augustine's was a wonderfull ocassion for the children of Blacklion and Belcoo in 1960s/70s. Mairead also recalls that the students did voluntary work at Blacklion Golf Club for Fr C. O'Docherty, helping to clear the fairways and other general tasks around the course, such as tree planting. The trees were known to the golfers for a long time as '' Fr O'Docherty's trees''.

My older brother, Malachy, was here this morning and I asked him if he had any more memories, so he recalled that some of the carpentry materials like saws and planing machines were brought over from a house which the White Fathers had in Southampton, England, and were stored at his house in Rusheen then taken over to Loughan by boat.

Then he recalled attending a boat building class in The Rainbow Ballroom at Gleanfrane with Bro Paddy and other local men from the area. Michael Shannley, a teacher from Kiltyclogher Technical School, was their instructor.

The overall contractors for the building of the college were Murphys from Dublin. Hugh Terence Nolan from Toam Blacklion was sub-contracted to put down the concrete floors in the college, then a group of contractors from Dublin put down trazzio on top of the concreate. We remember there were a few romances between the local Blacklion / Belcoo / Enniskillen girls and the ''trazzio men'' as they were known locally.


We were visiting with Bud Greene today, who says herself that the students looked on her as a second mother. Bud recalls when Fr O'Dowd was transfered from Doobally near Dowra to Teemore near Derrylin in the 1960s the students helped him move into the new house at Teemore. They had a half day on Thursdays and would help out in any local parish if needed.

Bud also recalls that the boys did not go home for Christmas but I think they went home at New Year. When they came to the village they always wore black coats and hats, as Fr Maguire was very strict about that.

God bless
Olivia O'Dolan in Belcoo.

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Exit Stage Left — Peter 'Prof' McMurray (12th February 2005)

I was just reading some of the reminiscences about school plays.

Does anyone remember the magnificent public performance that we put on for the people of St. Boswells? It was in the now vanished hall at the end of Pasha Peakes road — now there is a chap. How many knew that he was a hero of the Palestinian campaign, up there with Lawrence of Arabia?

Father Proulx produced a melodrama of significance adorned by Tony McCaffrey as my wife — apparently though a head shorter than him I had a voice that carried — very useful later on when driving Tourist coaches in pre-microphone days.

The piece-de-resistance however was undoubtedly Corky Corcoran — hairdresser to the stars and Elvis fan. He managed to combine the most brilliant entrance and exit ever. As Caffo and I intoned at centre stage he entered stage right and promptly trod on a piece of stage that wasn't there, exiting dramatically through the curtain with a significant thud.

As for The Priory light dimmer - the entire 240 volt system led through two bare wires on six inch nails dipped into a jug of water and raised or lowered appropriately.

Occ health and Safety would love that.


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Bunny McGrath and other stories — Mike Mearns (25th February 2005)


I was looking at a website recently, the focus of which was all the old BBC radio programmes* of the forties, fifties and sixties, and came across the Mrs Dale’s Diary entry. I realized that there was a Priory connection. I wonder if anybody remembers Bunny McGrath and her mother, from Bishop's Waltham, attending mass in the chapel. Well, Bunny played a character on the show in the late fifties. On one occasion in 1959, Nicky Kendellen, Charlie Bingham and I were detailed off to the McGrath home in order to do some work in the garden. Having completed the task, we were invited to stay for tea and enjoyed sandwiches, cakes, cups of tea and the inside story on " I’m worried about Jim". Quite a genteel change from the rough and tumble of tea in the refectory!

*Have a look at the following site : http://www.whirligig-tv.co.uk/radio/siteindex/ — a treasure trove of BBC recordings


Which leads me to the memory of when freshly baked loaves arrived just before teatime and nearly a whole three day supply of the staff of life went in one meal. I think we were eating it " raw" after the portions of butter and jam ran out. This event lead to the appearance of of thinly sliced bread in waxy wrappers. The slices were such that Terry Petit’s usual request for bread was: "Sling me a couple of boards, please".

The wax bread wrappers lead to a whole new art form, though. It was discovered quite early on that if the wrapper was laid waxy side down on the white american cloth table coverings, and a hot teapot applied to it — voila the picture was permanently transferred. One table was artfully decorated with garlands and wheatsheafs running from the corners to the centre, where the word "BREAD" appeared several times.

Lastly, I recalled doing the washing up and setting the tables after a meal. I thought about the custom of always ensuring that a certain father always received one of the dinner plates that had a large "V" on the rim. The delicious thought was that if he twigged it was impossible for him to say anything about it, of course.

A small gesture of defiance by those subject to Authority.


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Fond Memories of Fr Duffy by Tim Pascall (22nd August 2005)

Fr Duffy was Novice Master at Broome Hall when I was there in the mid-sixties.He was quite a character—and to illustrate this I'd like to quote some examples that typify this kind man and his lovely dry sense of humour.

He told us quite early on that : " Every now and then we Fathers invite you into our lounge to watch TV. You are very welcome. We love to see you there. We want you to be infor med. So please do come in. Sit down. Make yourselves comfortable—and SHUT UP !" as he slammed his fist on the table!

In the middle of the 30-day retreat after a heavy night-time storm he made the following observation : " You are all, of course, keeping faithfully to the Rule of Silence. So how is it that within half an hour of getting up, every single one of you had been down to the bottom of the grounds to see the fallen tree? Stange how news can spread when no-one's saying a word ! "

And the day before the General Election (which also took place during the 30 day retreat) he pronounced : " Some of you can vote—those of you who are old enough and British. Of course you can go and vote. You must go and vote. It's your duty to go and vote. So go up to Coldharbour village, cast your vote and VOTE LABOUR ! "

He also threatened to expel two of the Dutch students who had spent hours until quite late in the evening producing some document that was needed the next day, and so felt entitled to a reward of a quick little smoke. Fr. Duffy had a keen nose and smelt the smoke coming out from under the door. He was furious, but happily was prevailed upon not to carry out his threat, since both students are still with the White Fathers. (No names and no packdrill, therefore).

And finally, when Fr. Duffy was appointed as Provincial at Totteridge he was rather concerned about the tension that had built up between Totteridge and the Provincial House. To calm the waters he suggested that people from both places should go out to dinner together. Totteridge was to arrange everything. So a restaurant was booked in Barnet.

When they arrived at the venue, they heard that ties were required. This was one thing Fr Duffy had never worn in his life (or so he claimed). The restaurant insisted, and even offered to supply him with one. " I've never worn a tie in my life and I'm not going to wear one tonight just for you " was the answer––which is just the reaction that anyone who knew him would have expected. So they all walked off in a huff, and relations between Totteridge and the Provincial House took a little while longer to be repaired!

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Music, maestro by John Byrne (24th August 2005)

Once in a while, Fr Duffy permitted music to be played in the refectory at supper, instead of the more traditional reading.

The renowned Joe McIntyre was noted as a musuc 'guru' and he decided to play some guitar music. All was going very well, classical pieces etc, then the music became more modern, and a piece by Charlie Parker commenced.

Fr Duffy (Hank as we called him) became 'agitated' and loudly said 'Deo Gratias' - that was the end of the music while you eat.

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Fr Pat Boyd by Eugene MacBride (27th October 2005)

I first met Fr Pat Boyd on 8 March 1950 at St Columba's.  The college was en fete in choro et refectorio to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood of Father Walsh and his 50th of Father Bouniol.  It was my first day with the White Fathers.  My aunt who had brought me down from Glasgow had been spirited away and I think it was Pat took me upstairs to the big dormitory to show me my bed and my locker.

He told me 9 March would be a holiday.  I became the only one in the know, I think, but when Jimmy Johnston asked who had told me, I said, "The priest with the big nose."

Johnston let out a hoot: "Hawkeye!"

The odd thing is that after St Boswell's, I never heard Pat referred to again in terms of his rather prominent nose.

On the morning of 10 March, Walter Perry invited me to come down and see his rabbit snares.  As a result, we were late getting into Latin class and Pat tore Waller off a strip against a background of the beautiful Eildon Hills.  The class had been chanting Amabam, amabas, amabat as we walked in, the first Latin I had ever heard bar the noun 'stella'.

Pat took me as a Latin extravagant and taught me in his windowless room.

He also taught French and put it about that Scots boys would find French easier than the English or Irish because of the similarity of pronunciation, eg "ferme" and "ferm" !

One day a rather daft boy J.P. asked a very intelligent question: "How is it possible to go to a foreign country (eg in Africa) and understand what they are saying?"  Pat understood the query as a very stupid one from a very stupid boy but I for one could see what J.P. was getting at.  Pat blew-up and told him to shut up and stop being so silly.

Pat was in charge of the schola and used to take practice during manual work.  Ged Wynne was our organist.  I had been made one of the sacristans and used to fake--- beg Denis Shields behind Pat's back to swap his Liber for my sweeping brush and change places with me.  Denis was always eager but of course he did not dare.

Pat took a vivid interest in all things Pelican from our first reunion at Rutherglen in October 1992 right through to Dryburgh Abbey ten years later. 

He was one of those priests who tried to make everyone feel at home especially the women.  He was always on the look-out for ladies to read during Mass. 

I liked Pat very much and was sorry to hear of his death on 27th September 2005.  I was in France at the time and did not learn of his death until mid-October.

Requiescat.

Eugene


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Vince, Pat and Kerry by Mike Mearns (18th November 2005)

The sad news of the death of Vince Bailey prompted me to write today.

Vince was the Dean of students when I began my first year of philosphy at Blacklion. He had taken his MA and taught for a while before joining up. Always cheerful and willing to help others. I took over from him as MC late in my first year and appreciated his help and encouragement. He acquired the nickname of " Bedrock" as a result of his overseeing the the landscaping of the Grotto, where the stream flowed past the statue of the Virgin. Manys a boulder have I rolled, and wheelbarrow load of soil pushed, alongside Vince.

I recall a little talk he gave one Sunday evening in the rec' room. Drawing on his pre-philosophy studies, he entertained us with a recounting of some of the Norse and Icelandic myths. He also inspired me to take up rowing when I left the WFs. He had his blue from Glasgow University and spoke about rowing with such enthusiasm that I had to give it a try when the opportunity arose. So thanks, Vince, for all the times I have slogged up and down the Thames, pulling on an oar in the number five seat of a Kensington Rowing Club eight!

Another memory was prompted by looking at the 32 finalists for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Seeing the names of qualifying countries like Australia, Angola and Trinidad and Tobago reminded me of the early Summer of 1957. Pat Burns and I decided that we would hold a world cup competition. I drew up a list of 64 countries, randomly listed them in pairs and so we began to play the 63 games necessary to get the champion. We had set up a small field on the corner of the football pitch closest to the farm. The goals were two benches laid on their sides presenting a target about six feet long and a foot high. We played 5 minute halves using a tennis ball. As we only played during the evening recreation, it took a long time to get to the final. I cannot remember which country finally triumphed but I do recall it was an obscure football nation.

Nowadays the obscure teams would be the Cook Islands or St Kitts and Nevis or some such. Who knows when one of them might be finalists. With Wigan second in the Premiership, anything can happen.

Seeing Kerry Bagshaw's new email address made me rub my left eyebrow and wince. It is still tender from the cricket season of 1959. I was batting for the sixth form against the fourth, when one of Kerry's demon fast balls bounced up and caught me and smashed my specs. I was carted off down to the village to get stitched up and never picked up a cricket bat again.

(Yes, I've never understood why you have to play cricket with something as lethal as a stone—Ed.)


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Memorandum to Rev Fr Duffy, Superior a priori, 1964
from a Third Former, Hilarius Bellocosus
(aka Robbie Dempsey) 22nd November 2005




Do you remember that in, Memoranda
,
Do you remember that in ?
Those endless lists of words and phrases
Accusative and Locative, vocaBullry evocative;
In Latina you have seen a whole world pass you by.
I remember, Memoranda,
Latina could have been a conjugated culture and never wondered why.
Laborare est orare,
Yesterday amo amare,
Crass, oblibiscuit Latinare.
In memoriam, Fr. Duffy, do you remember Memoranda ?

Idioms and phrases:
Glasgow and London, New Edition : Blackie.(Duffer)
Romulus and Remus, I hope he hasn't seen us. (Duffy)
"Alea jacta est" says "Tha Die ist cast, lad,
Ah Oui, Jubi, Jubilee, Jubilatio,
You boy, translatio :- the noun phrase is cast in t'Ablative Case -
Impedimentis relictis, ad insulam veniunt." (Duffer)
. . . Hacking and whacking
. . . Caesar hastens with a hasta trying to advance;
. . . But, nocte appropinquante, he hasta seize a chance.
. . . Here comes Exercitus, here comes Auxilary,
. . . Infrastructure, infrared, inforitnow, infra dig.

And you haven't got a clue but, suddenly you knew:
"Leaving their - their Cases - behind them,
They came to a - a roundabout."
That's absolutely ablative !
Lux aeternum, Pax Romana !
Lex and Tax Americana !
Pax vobiscum, Tanganyika, ad maiorem Dei gloriam.
Ab Urbe Konditerei,
Quid pro quo and Nihil Obstats; Be vigilant ad nauseam.

Do you remember that, Latina, in Memoranda ?
Do you remember that in the active and the passive
Ab hinc, ab Hank, possessive.
And the hic, haec, hoc and amabuntur.
Amabor, amaborin,
For the times they are a-changin.
For the times are "Tempora mutantur"
Blah, blah, blah,
Bellorum, bliss, bliss !
Inter alia, InterRail, we learned to 'Decline War'.

Then the reading and the pleading,
All the tears and all the fears find you staring at the floor.
Never more, Memoranda,
Never more, Memento mori.
With Memororanda Latina,
and Father Duffy we have seen a life that is so keen - ibi ignis.

Stabat mater dolorosa iuxta crucem lacrimosa,
Father Duffy,
Quo Vadis ?

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EARLY MEMORIES OF HESTON PARISH

by Vincent Celano


From : vcelano@hotmail.com
Subject : Re: Some early memories
Date : 31 December 2004

My first day at the White Fathers' school at Heston was sometime in September 1952.

Mum took me down the little alleyway from the main road to the door at the front of the hall. This was the hall in the grounds of the church. In the evenings and weekends it hosted functions such as Whist Drives and bazaars, but during the week it was our school. The sliding partition across the middle was just right as with only about 15 pupils we only needed half the hall's floor space. Helen Sainsbury looked after me till I settled in. The school was a 25min walk from where I lived just off Vicarage Farm Road (Summerhouse Avenue). Dad still lives there and gets taken to church each week in a parishioners car much the same as when Harry Tait drove the black Bedford van with sliding doors in the mid-fifties to collect the elderly in those days.

Miss Libra had been brought out of retirement as the vacancy left by the previous teacher had not been filled. She had some interesting teaching ideas, one of which was to teach us to read backwards to prevent us getting the gist of the story and thereby guessing the words. I used to get some wrong, `picnic` was always `nicpic!` She lived in some flats at the Bell, Hounslow, arriving on the 120 bus. She was often seen in Hounslow High Street, but never without a hat with a flower on the hatband. She looked about 70 in 1954.

During the school holidays I used to go and help Harry Tait do the odd maintenance jobs. It was great fun varnishing the school hall floor with a big brush ready for the Autumn term. I even remember being up on the flat roof of the cloakroom with Harry at the side of the hall but I cant remember what we were doing!

Father Hames was around at the time and various ladies kept house for him. A few selected older pupils were allowed mid-morning to fetch Miss Libra's cup of tea from the kitchen just behind the school hall. The playground used to look out over some allotments. Only Moira Norton was allowed to come in the back way across the allotments as she lived behind them somewhere. Mary West, Dorina Rossi, Jennifer Price, Monica Coates, Hugh Best, Johnny Meades, Anthony Little are some names that were in that little class.

Just before I left that school in 1956, I was shown how to serve Benediction and shortly afterwards Richard Sainsbury showed me how to serve Mass, with several practice sessions at home first to make sure I knew when to move the Missal. I served there until about 1966, by which time the new church was in place. There were quite a few altar servers and we had regular meetings and practices, with David Rose always MC at the bigger events. I never did figure out how he knew when to do what at the Easter services. I often got to be Thurifer, a desirable roll as there was lots of smoke! One day I turned up to serve at the 0700 weekday Mass and instead of a White Father, there was Peter Moore, dressed in his black cassock.

The first thing he said to me was "What is the difference between me and the White Fathers?" Well, being very young and a bit nervous I said "They are White Fathers and you are a Black Father?" He didn't seem too taken aback and just said that the correct answer was "nothing".

Other memories :
Playing on the grass just outside the convent at the Green, whilst mum chatted to other mothers at the Mothers Union meetings.

Dorina Rossi's dad supplying ice-cream for events like the summer bazaar.

Patrick Hillier being told off most severely by Miss Libra when he called a potato a `spud.` She nearly had a fit!

Mrs Moody asking why, when I served Mass on Sunday mid-morning, I never went to communion. I was proud to say it was because it was the second mass I had served that day, and you could only go once per day. She looked pleased at the answer! (Mrs Moody's son was Fr Frank Moody, who was Superior at The Priory at about this time).

Father Jones beating all records for money raised when he `hired` Heston C of E school, a few hundred yards down the road, for the summer bazaar. He rushed around getting things organised and wore jeans, something I hadn't seen a priest do before.

Serving mass once for Father Prentice, who seemed very old and did things differently.

Going on holiday to the Isle of White only to meet Richard and Anthony Sainsbury again.

Mrs Merriman in the porch selling rosary beads, missals etc

Hiding from Mum in the laurel bushes that grew in front of the church.

How, when you went into the church house to the left of the church, it was dark and the floor was very uneven and creaked.

One priest whose name escapes me had a massive Meccano set which he showed me with pride.

Parishioners of the time that come to mind are: The Tollmans, O'Briens, Mr and Mrs. Giles and Brenda, their daughter, Mr and Mrs. Ellis with Gillian and Adrien, Mrs. Sainsbury, Mr and Mrs. Davis and Erica and Robert.
Vincent Celano, in the parish of Heston from 1948 to 1966, now in Ware, Herts

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Broadcasting to The World by Paul West (17th March 2006)

Some time ago, Chris Maguire rang to ask if I knew how to get hold of a copy of the broadcast that was made by The Priory Choir, way back in 1957.

This was by no means the first request that I had received, in fact, but I still went through the same fruitless searches as I had done on previous occasions, hoping that the BBC still held on to the cherished master tape in its archives. After all, as someone reminded me, we were so popular within the Bishop's Waltham environs that some of our Christmas Midnight Masses were ticket-only affairs !

The recording took place on 11th July 1957, just days before we were due to break for the summer. It wasn't 'live', of course, and it was another week before it was actually broadcast to the world — by which time we were all safely tucked up at home for the summer vac.


When that auspicious day arrived, I recall fiddling with the tuning dial on my father's radiogram for ages, desperately trying to find the programme before it disappeared forever into the ether. I listened patiently to all the squawks and squalls of short, long and medium wave but to no avail. Apparently, it went out on the Overseas service, and this was not available in Scotland in those days, would you believe.

It was a thoroughly dispiriting affair at the time : we had spent a great deal of time and effort rehearsing the set pieces with Mr Heath, Fr Alan Thompson and Fr Hugh Monaghan, our joint choir masters (Ted, Thatch and Jap) —straining the adolescent pips to the maximum until we squeaked. (It is worth noting that it was the White Fathers who discovered that you could still function as a soprano at the age of 15 without medical assistance).

John Paul Larkin, Tommy Kelly and I were three of the sopranos that I can recall. Pat Gibbons and Mike Kelly were two of the tenors. Pat Rice and Desmond Boyle were the altos, though Desmond was the key organist for the occasion, so he may not have actually sung on this broadcast.

I am hoping that outraged visitors to the site will remind me of the others who participated.

One of my sources tells me that it wasn't actually a Solemn High Mass that we sang because the programme could only stretch to 28 minutes and 50 seconds. Yes, this un-named correspondent—whom I shall refer to as DT (Deep Throat), because of his subsequent and life-long career as a chorister— is very specific about such details. He tells me, also, that Fr Agnellus Andrew was the producer and that there should be no 's' added to his surname. (No relation to Archie Andrews, then).

The chapel's 3-manual harmonium was deemed unsuitable for the broadcast, so a chamber organ was hired especially for the occasion.  It was powered by electricity, which was inaudible, but  I am told that with one small manual only it was quite difficult to play.

DT reminds me that Desmond Boyle always made up his own arrangements when he played the organ—and this occasion was no exception. It says a lot for Frs Monaghan and Thompson that he was allowed to do this. It would appear that Fr Agnellus congratulated Dezzie after the broadcast and asked him, in particular, where he had found the setting for the plainsong O Quam Glorifica . He was told, to his amazement, that Desmond had made it up !

As far as I know, this account is the whole truth and nothing but the truth—but if YOU can add to the story (or correct the 'facts' as stated) you'll be more than welcome. For example, what role did David Airley play on this occasion if he wasn't playing the organ ?

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Philosophy in Blacklion
by
Robbie Dempsey


With everlasting gratitude to Fr. Eugene Lewis


You can find Monty Python's Philosophers Song at many
places on the web, but I found some of my old notes below
from my time at Philosophy in Blacklion (1967-69).
Obviously 'booz' featured so much because it was
completely forbidden. Full stop. Quite right, too.


 

Now St. Augustin was really disgustin
whenever he'd had too much,
Bacon was locked, Locke was hiStoical,
and Berkeley was talking double dutch.
But, William of Ockham knew how to knock'em
straight back every time,
And Thomas Aquinas could hold up a wine glass
or Summa with lager and lime.
William James went up in flames
From the breadth of old Spinoza,
And Blaise Pascal became atheistical
When Camus gave him vina Pedroza.
Bertrand Russell had plenty of muscle
When it came to lifting kegs,
And Kierkegaard could drink a yard
of beer down to the dregs.

 

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