STAND UP, Mastermind, and see if you can answer this impossible question.
What have the following got in common? Sir Ralph Richardson, Viscount Head, the Rt Rev G. E. Reindorp, Anglican Bishop of Salisbury, Lord Dulverton, Mr A. M. Mason, Mr Eamonn Andrews and the Marquess of Queensberry?
I don't suppose you'd have any way of telling unless you read The Daily Telegraph the other week. We all have our birthday on the same day.
This may, of course, seem of monumental unimportance to you, unless your own name appeared in that list, but I have a done the preliminary thinking and made the preliminary social moves to understanding. And it looks very much like a great ingroup to any newcomer.
Do I really think this is a great pity? Yes, of course I do. I could name at least half a dozen parents with problems about their children who could profit a lot, even if it was only feeling the support of other parents, And
vision of breakfast tables around the land and wifely fingers stabbing at the paragraph: "I say, guess how old so-and-so is?" Lord Swaythling, head of that particular list at 80, and the Marquess of Queensberry, overtook me at the bottom with a comfortable 49. My lips are sealed on the rest of the figures.
Flattered beyond measure though I am to appear under a section of that august paper, boldly headed "Court and Social", dear Editor, may I decline the honour for whatever number of years remain to me?
Mechanisation of medicine
A YOUNG MAN I know who always said he wanted to be a doctor told me the other day he'd switched his ambitions to being an air pilot. His explanation was quite straighforward.
He felt that, by the time he'a have qualified, there was going to be little or no need for doctors; that you would just go to a computer, pump in your symptoms and pains and aches and the computer would pump out your prescription.
He was being quite serious they get all the invitations and never come.
The school's done all it can. But it's suddenly hit me that I am a very woolly thinker. If I really — yes, really — think this is a pity, why don't / do something about it? Don't I know how shyness, how lack of social "secureness", how brushes with authority through gaucheness, can keep people at home.
about this, I think, and the fact that computers are unlikely to be able to pump out kind words weighed only marginally with him.
I thought I had him foxed when I explained that they had already designed a train which would be driven by some sort of tape, and that, no doubt, even the most complicated aircraft would be flown in the same way in the future.
"Of course," he said loftily, "but it will take longer." Brooding on the potential mechanisation of medicine, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw, at Dublin Airport, a most impressive looking machine asking me to test by bloodpressure at a cost of 50p.
What next? Have your appendix removed in flight? Xray yourself for 75p — extra plates extra? Lead me to the headache machine.
SAID the philosophical taxidriver — and I seem to meet nothing but philosophical taxi-drivers — "Will you say 1978 was a happy year when you look back on it?"
"No," was my somewhat surly reply. "No, I won't."
"What do you mean?" asked my rattled sage.
"I mean," I said rather stiffly, "that I will not be looking back on the year and, therefore, If won't.be able to say whether it was happy or unhappy."
Needless to say, he won in the end. Bludgeoned by my own pomposity, I confessed that, although I made a habit of not looking backwards as being, for the most part, a useless exercise, if I was put to the pin of my collar I would have to admit that, by and large, it was a happy year.
It's extraordinary and fortunate, isn't it how moments of gloom or sadness that seem to last for ever when they're happening become, for the most part, forgettable hiccups? I hope you have very few hiccups in 1979.
They want someone to go with. And why should all the advertising zeal come from the school? School is only 50 per cent of the meeting. I belong to the other 50 per cent — the parents.
I shall take Clare's letter and go this afternoon to Mrs Hancock's and ask her to come with me. 1 know Mrs Brennan will plead she has no one to look after the three-year-old, but I'll offer Susan as babyminder.
I'll make sure I get at least two more families at the school meeting. And if I meet any more of the "regulars" I'll try to sell them my idea. It's so easy to moan about things and do nothing.