Last Sunday saw one of my rare appearances at church. “Thought I heard a thunder clap!” joked a warden, spotting me.
Still, it was uplifting and, in this lean time of Lent, also sustaining.
As I was leaving, the cheery minister told me, “I enjoy those columns of yours.”
She even read them to her father (who must be short of amusements).
But when she also said which was her favourite recent piece, I couldn’t remember it. “I suppose you write so much,” she sympathised.
Well, perhaps, but to be honest I don’t give it too much thought; it just comes naturally somehow.
My uncertainty at her remark reminded me of once being interviewed – a rarity for a journalist – by the Newspaper for the Blind, which still carries these columns.
How did I start preparing columns and what was I trying to achieve, asked the smooth but earnest interviewer.
He had kindly put me at ease to start with but soon I was bumbling helplessly, trying to find intelligent answers to such probing questions.
Long ago, when first asked to write a newspaper column (for the South China Morning Post when working in Hong Kong), I was flattered and tried to be suitably topical and amusing.
Later, while working on a night shift, I spotted a circulated copy of my efforts on the editor’s desk – with comments by various executives attached at his request.
“Promising,” wrote one cynical hack, “but can he keep it up?” Well, that was 35 years ago.
“It’s a gift!” someone graciously said of my missives. It may be so and I’m deeply grateful, but am still sticking to those basics – being topical, well-humoured and always optimistic, because there’s enough bad news on other pages.
As I see it, what we need most, just as spring and Easter promise, is fresh hope.
* See royedmonds-blackpool.com, Amazon or stores for books.