Are you a fountain ?
By I IlLA 11Y KNIGHT
THERE are many 1ways of dividing the inhabitants of the world into categories. 1 don't mean economic categories-like riceeaters and wheat-eaters--but categories worked out in terms of character or temperament.
"Are you a fountain, a harp, or an oyster?" is a game I have heard young people playing. In other words, are you an active, lively, original person, a source of vitality, like a fountain? Or are you more passive and receptive like a harp which is only brought to life when played on? Or are you altogether reserved and closed in on yourself like an oyster? A fountain and a harp make a very good partnership; two fountains probably have a quarrel a day; an oyster is rather difficult to get to know but makes an excel
lent friend when prised open . . And so on.
Another set of categories i. "Are you a fox or a hedgehog." In other words: do you go dashing in all directions after lots of different things in life, or do you plod steadily and slowly after one thing?
ALLALL this is leading up another category which has some bearing on a certain spare-time occupation: Are you, or are you not, a lecturegoer?
Those of you who are natural lecture goers. or brains -trust listeners. or meeting attenders (is this, perhaps. a "harp" attribute?) are obviously never at a loss as to what to do in the evenings, whatever town you live in or near, for there are always lectures going on
somewhere (largely because there are always people who want to lecture: are they "fountains"?) Let us glance at the lecture. advertisements in a London weekly paper and see a little of what we are offered in one week: "Is the Theatre Dead or Alive?"; "Communism, Jews and Israel"; "Africa, New Star of History"; "The Great Experiment in American Literature"; "Social Responsibility and the Soul": "Spiritualism proves Survival"; "Women, the World and War"; and so on.
And then, of course, there is the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament which sends lecturers out all over England, from Worthing to Wigan. The vital problems discussed in these lectures must be familiar to all of you if you read the correspondence columns of the
MOW if you do go to
' lectures or meetings. you will. I think, notice-especially at the nuclear ones-that most of the audience consists of young people. Of course there are some of the elderly (who usually fall asleep), and some of the earnest middle-aged, but the student agegroup is usually predominant.
Question-time is always amusing at lectures and public meetings because there never fails to be that loquacious member of the audience who just does not know how to bring what he is saying to a close. Speaking in public is admittedly an art.
Speaking at all is an art for that matter-involving not being repetitive, not being obvious, and crediting the person you arc talking to with reasonable intelligence. Disraeli's advice is helpful. too:
"Never tell unkind stories; above all. never tell long ones."
CLUBS AND CLUMPS
QUITE a few of the lectures listed above are given under the auspices of some club or other.
"Club"-what a funny word, coming, like "clump", from an Icelandic word klubba means, among other things, "an association of persons for the joint study of any subject. or for social ends". I wonder how many of you belong to clubs, and what sort of clubs they are? I have in front of mg a leaflet about the National Association of Mixed Clubs and Girls' Clubs which has branches throughout the whole of the British Isles and as far as the Channel Islands.
These clubs are for young people kind seem to provide every activity under the sun, from fencing to mountain-climbing, from fashion parades to making canoes . .
BuI the local parish club can be very rewarding, too. What golden evenings, after work, I have spent at a parish club-playing ping-pong, singing, preparing Nativity plays ... and lots of other things I can't remember.
One of the best club-houses I have ever been to is that of the Young Christian Workers (Jeunesse Ouvriere Chretienne) in Brussels (about which I shall certainly be talking at length sonic time).
But there we are again: some young people are naturally "clubable" and some aren't. But I don't think this has anything to do with being fountains. harps. or oysters: I should think most clubs are full of all three.