NO MASS AT AMBRIDGE ?
By FRANCIS KENT
IT is near-heresy at the B.B.C. to identify the Archers with any particular county. Ambridge, they tell you, is a typical country village and Borchester "any county town".
But Worcestershire folk have a prctty shrewd idea about this, and not without reason. Now Worcestershire has a respectable part in Catholic history; lovely red-brick, insetted Harvington Hall has probably more ingenious priest-holes than any house in England. No fewer than four martyrs suffered for the faith in Worcester itself. And Catholics are fairly lively and
ubiquitous in the county today. Yet, listening to the Archers' everyday story (and who does not?), you would never think so.
Dan and Mrs. Archer, Tom Forrest and Pru, Carol Grey and John Tregorran, Ned Larkin and Squire Grenville seem staunch Christmas and Easter and harvest festival types, ready to lend a hand to the straightforward parson at the village church. But there must be some Catholics in Ambridge; Rita Flynn, perhaps ? Where do they go to church on Sundays ? I must ask Godfrey Baseley and his collaborators.
AWORD in your eye ! Some weeks ago I commended the Radio Guild monthly "Annuncia tion". Now I want to praise "The Word", which comes monthly at ninepence in photogravure from the Divine Word Missionaries at St. Richard's College, Hadzor, near Droitwich, Worcestershire. Naturally their house there is dedicated to the St. Richard who was, I think a Droitwich ploughboy before he attained episcopal heights and canonisation. Here they educate boys-50 or 60 of them—from the ages of 11 or 12, who hope to become missionary priests.
Their magazine is not a school magazine, but an extraordinarily well-produced and edited review of general interest; it finds a ready sale at more and more church doors, I am glad to sec. It is unusually finely illustrated. This month's issue has Karsh portraits of Cardinal Tardini, Adenauer, Eisenhower, Nehru. and Churchill. alone worth the ninepence. There is a fascinating travel article on Grenoble, a review by Fr. John Burke of the film "The Angry Silence " with its industrial implications, and an article on Hadzor itself, once the home of the Galton family.
I chuckled to learn that Grenoble had a Rue des Vieux Jesuites —a sort of Farm Street ?
Last pipes ON the aay Worcester's last martyr. Fr. John Wall. was executed—August 22, 1679-80year-old Fr. John Kemble went to the scaffold in the neighbouring city of Hereford. Warned of his impending arrest, he refused to attempt flight, saying that "in the course of nature he had but few years to live, and it would be of advantage to him to suffer for his religion".
How human, as well as saintly, martyrs often appear ! Tradition has it that on his way to death he was allowed by his escort to rest in a friend's house and smoke a last pipe. For a long while, a farewell pipe was locally called a "Ketnble".
was reminded of this when reading a new biography of Sir Waiter Raleigh—the pioneer of tobacco in the Western world — who also kept the executioner waiting while he smoked his long. silver mounted pipe for the last time after his final breakfast. Some thought it a defiant gesture at James I, who had written of the vile custom of smoking that it was "loathesorne to the eye, hateful to the nose, harmful to the brain. and dangerous to the lungs". Poor James himself might have been a better king for a pipeful of what was then advertised as a soothing medicine
Worcestershire was recently startled when a four-foot shark was found in the river, as far inland as Upton-on-Severn. It turned out a practical joke, of course. But not before someone had asked: "Whatever next: a seaside landlady in Birmingham ? "