Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Some favourite books - Historic day for the F.SS.R.

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,
Dominus tecum,
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
Et benedictus fructus ventris tui,
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus,
Nunc et in hora mortis nostrae,


Michelle Therese said...

Hello, "umblepie" :-)
Doing a lot better today: I was rather shocked to discover that I could be so upset and stressed out by the meeting yesterday. As an ex-firefighter and military lady I figured I was made of tougher stuff then that! But I said to Erlend, "This is the first time I've ever sat there and watched my government place me and mine in the crosshairs without a second thought, and all of us so totally helpless to stop it..!" I know I'm only a resident here in Britain but well, I live under this government and so they are in a way "mine." I guess no matter how tough we think we are there are always going to be times that knock you flat! God bless!! ~Michelle
P.S. This code thing that I have to enter is quite a beast! Even when I get it right it says it's wrong aaaaah! :-)

umblepie said...

Michelle, Glad you are feeling better today. I know how you feel, although I think that there is a long way to go before this grotesque 'same-sex' marriage issue can become law. It can be defeated and there are nearly one million signatorees who are totally against it, with I suspect many millions more ordinary people of the same mind. I agree with you about the absurd code that Google have introduced before you can post a comment. Recently it took me about 7 attempts to post a comment on the monks blogsite! This is happening more and more, with the letters and numbers often totally un-decipherable! Best wishes, BC.

David said...


How true it is that reading is one of the great joys of life. Here are some apt quotes from Marcel Proust on the complex and rich pleasure of reading:

"There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we believe we left without having lived them, those we spent with a favorite book." (On Reading)

"On the sort of screen dappled with different states and impressions which my consciousness would simultaneously unfold while I was reading, and which ranged from the most deeply hidden aspirations of my being to the wholly external view of the horizon spread out before my eyes at the bottom of the garden, what was my primary, my innermost impulse, the lever whose incessant movements controlled everything else, was my belief in the philosophic richness and beauty of the book I was reading, and my desire to appropriate them for myself, whatever the book might be. For even if I had bought it at Combray, having seen it outside Borange's - whose grocery lay too far from our house for Fran├žoise to be able to shop there, as she did at Camus's, but was better stocked as a stationer and bookseller - tied with string to keep it in its place in the mosaic of monthly serials and pamphlets which adorned either side of his doorway, a doorway more mysterious, more teeming with suggestion than that of a cathedral, it was because I had recognised it as a book which had been well spoken of by the schoolmaster or the school-friend who at that particular time seemed to me to be entrusted with the secret of truth and beauty, things half-felt by me, half-incomprehensible, the full understanding of which was the vague but permanent object of my thoughts." (In Search of Lost Time, Volume I: Swann's Way, "Combray")

"In reality, every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have experienced in himself. And the recognition by the reader in his own self of what the book says is the proof of its veracity." (In Search of Lost Time, Volume 7: Time Regained)

Think of how all of the above applies, with even greater truth, when we read the Holy Word of God -- if we truly have ears to hear, if the seed falls on good ground.