It has recently been announced by Messrs D.C.Thomson & Co. that publication of the Dandy comic in its existing format, is to end in December 2012. Happily it is to be re-incarnated, apparently in a format more in tune with the minds of children of the 21st century. Some may question whether this is necessarily a good thing, and some may suggest that children’s minds do not really change from one generation to the next. No doubt the reality is that whilst children’s minds do not change, the world certainly does. Let us hope that the new Dandy continues to provide innocent delight and pleasure to children everywhere.
One of the great pleasures in life is reading. When aged about ten years, my idea of heaven was reading a ‘William’ book by Richmal Crompton, with a selection of sweets to hand, preferably fruit or acid drops which lasted a long time.
Other favourites authors included Arthur Ransome - ‘Swallows and Amazons’, ‘We didn’t mean to go to Sea’, etc.; Enid Blyton - ‘Valley of Adventure’, ‘Secret Five’, etc.; W.F.Johns - the 'Biggles' stories of heroism by fighter pilots of the Royal Air Force; Percy F Westerman - similar stories of heroism at sea involving the Royal Navy. There were many other authors of course, but those mentioned were particular favourites of mine.
As a teenager, mystery and detective stories were my favourites. Edgar Wallace, Dorothy Sayers, Arthur Coynan Doyle, Peter Cheyney , Earle Stanley Gardner, Agatha Christie, were all authors whose books I looked for. I have to admit that my literary taste was simple and low-brow i.e.popular, rather than intellectual and high-brow, and to be perfectly honest I think this is still the case.
As a young man, serious reading took a back seat, in fact virtually disappeared into the boot! There were so many other things to be done, leaving little time to read anything other than newspapers or magazines. Marriage, family, and my job, also sporting activities and involvement when possible in Church events, filled my life, and over time it became extremely difficult for me to discipline myself to read a book of any real substance. An Open University degree course, which necessitated reading books on a variety of subjects, and also my job which involved reading official documents and reports, certainly helped to exercise my brain, and it was enjoyable, but it could not be described as reading for pleasure.
It was only in later life that I found the time and inclination to read those books that I had postponed reading for so many years. Much of the fun was actually searching the second-hand market place for the books I wanted. Finding those books at an affordable price often entailed spending many enjoyable hours browsing in bookshops specialising in second-hand books , of which there were many in Devon where we lived at the time.
Books I read now and which take pride of place on my bookshelf, include religious biographies of Saints and martyrs of the Catholic Church, lives of different Popes and eminent Catholic hierarchal figures, particularly those of the 19th and 20th centuries, and lives of outstanding English men and women eg. Winston Churchill, Leonard Cheshire VC, and his wife Sue Ryder ; various war history books, e.g.‘A Bridge Too Far’ by Cornelius Ryan; travel books, e.g. ‘In the Steps of the Master’ by HV Morton; short story collections by selected authors; and an eclectic assortment of books including novels by R.F.Delderfield, Norman Collins, and others; poetry by John Betjeman and others; numerous historical biographies and books of religious interest e.g. 'Lives of the Desert Fathers', and others; also certain fine art reference books.
If you ever find yourself in Kirkwall, Orkney, with time on your hands, I recommend a visit to the only second-hand bookshop in town, situated next to the Library. I think the shop is called ‘McCarthy’s Bookshop’. At first sight the shop is not particularly prepossessing, but don’t judge it by external appearances. Inside is a large selection of books to suit all tastes, and at extremely reasonable prices. There is a certain order within the shop, but not too much! The element of surprise and possible delight has not been eliminated by an over-scrupulously organised shop proprietor, thus when browsing, one retains a sense of hopeful anticipation! It is not a big shop, but it is full of books , on shelves and in boxes, high and low. The proprietor/ manager of the shop is a Scotsman with a pointed ‘Van Dyck’ beard, a droll but sharp sense of humour, and a never-ending fund of stories. He appears decidedly knowledgeable on most matters literary, and is genuinely helpful, always remembering his customer’s interests and needs even if he hasn’t seen the customer for several weeks. I have bought several books from him, including one which according to various websites, was only available in Australia, the British Museum, and in south-west Scotland, at a shop which, coincidentally, shared the same owner as the Kirkwall shop. This was a book dealing with the sinking of the SS Athenia by a German submarine, on the first day of the 2nd World War, with an account of the incident by various survivors. I particularly needed this book for a project here on Stronsay in Orkney, where we actually have one of the lifeboats from the stricken ship , converted to an out-house and used as such for many decades , and which we still entertain faint hopes of restoring if sufficient funds can be raised.
Lifeboat from SS Athenia on Stronsay foreshore.
My most recent purchase from this shop, is a trilogy of novels in one volume, translated from the French, entitled ‘Cecile among the Pasquiers’ written by Georges Duhamel, and published by Dent & Sons in 1940. The original retail price was 9s.6d., a not inconsiderable amount of money at the time. I don’t read many novels, but I was tempted by some excellent reviews on the cover , and have not been disappointed. I think it a beautifully written book and one which held my attention from the beginning, which with many books is not always the case, and I find it difficult to put down. The author, a qualified doctor who served with the French army in the Great War, and thereafter strongly anti-war in his views, was a prolific writer and author of many books. I am enjoying it to the extent that I have already purchased through Amazon, another book by the same author, entitled ‘The Pasquier Chronicles’, being five further stories in one volume, relating to the lives and fortunes of the same family .
We have an elderly lady friend on Stronsay, in her nineties, who is unable to read owing to poor eyesight. This causes her great frustration and distress as reading was her favourite pastime. Her unfortunate situation has made me especially appreciative of the unique gift of sight, reminding me that as the eyes are our 'windows to the world' , even more importantly they are the ‘windows of our soul’.
Which brings me to the final toast - 'To the Dandy. Long may it continue to flourish, for the innocent pleasure and delight of children everywhere.’
A unique and joyous occasion:-
Today, Wednesday, 22nd August 2012 is a very special day for the Religious Community, the 'Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer' (F.SS.R) also known as the 'Transalpine Redemptorists', based at Golgotha Monastery, Papa Stronsay, Orkney.
R.C.Diocese of Aberdeen - Coat of Arms
'Invitation to the Public Profession of Vows of the Fathers and Brothers of the
Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer.
We have the joy of announcing to you that our communities in Papa Stronsay and Christchurch have been canonically recognised as a Clerical Institute of Diocesan Right and now form an officially recognised Religious Order. After consultation with the Holy See in Rome, the Decree of our Canonical Erection was issued on 15 August, 2012 by Dom Hugh Gilbert, O.S.B., the Bishop of Aberdeen. In consequence of this recognition, as a new Religious Order we invite you to our public profession of religious vows to be made before the Bishop of Aberdeen. The Profession Ceremony of the above will be held at 6.15 p.m. on Wednesday 22nd August, 2012, in Our Lady’s Chapel, Stronsay.'
Fr. Michael Mary, F.SS.R. Fr. Anthony Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. Br. Jean Marie, F.SS.R.
Br. Magdala Maria, F.SS.R. Br. Martin Mary, F.SS.R.
Br. Nicodemus Mary, F.SS.R. Br. Gerardo Maria, F.SS.R.
Ave Maria, gratia plena,
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,