IN THE old days, I seem to remember that movies got great fun out of religious figures. There was nearly always a fat, chuckling Friar somewhere or a "Father" Spencer Tracy scheming through Boys Town or "Canon" Barry Fitzgerald throwing his eyes up to heaven.
Now, today, if some up-andcoming David Putnam (who's just captured Cannes with The Mission) casts his eye on this space, may I suggest a sub-plot at the Convent of Mercy, Wolverhampton, where three nuns have recently cracked our Crossword and collected, amid peals of delight, the coveted book prize. I've stolen these words from a delighted letter of acknowledgement.
"Three of us share the glory and you would be highly amused to see the team at work! The leader is 88 and with failing eyesight but a strict disciplinarian who allots us our tasks. We have to work hard to meet the deadline of first post
out on Wednesday morning. It is a sad week if we fail to finish through sloth or ignorance.
Member No 2 is 80 plus — a little stowed-down owing to a recent accident but with a flair for words and an occasional burst of inspiration. Sometimes she gets into trouble for putting the wrong letter in the wrong square so we have two copies of the paper to ensure there is a fair copy to despatch.
I, at 67, am the baby of the team, responsible for bringing the copies of the Herald safely from Parish Church to Convent. and woe betide me if something goes wrong with British Rail or whoever is responsible for delivery . . ."
Can't you see it all now? Translate the good ladies into an 007 situation and set them breaking down codes to smash the dreaded Smersh. Peter Langan himself wasn't there. I know because 1 looked under every table on the way out.
I had many a laugh over the years with Glasgow's worldywise Manny Shinwell. Now that 'he's gone, still talking, at the grand old age of 101, I've spotted a few critics slipping out from the shadows to have a knock at him or, as they might say, put him in perspective.
I suppose he was a bit of a. rogue in ways, but 1 believe he believed most of what he said.
Interesting, isn't it, that the same man, Manny, who said "Scotland for the Scots is a lot of nonsense" also said, of Ireland, "The only logical solution is a united Ireland, but they won't wear it. It will take years of blood baths to come round to some sort of cooperating council between north and south".