For the Religious Department of ABC – Benedictine Monks
Not all clergy were against alcohol. On one occasion, I made a film for the Religious Department at the ABC. I think the producer was a Christopher Fry, who, later became a producer of some successful Australian television drama series, including The Flying Doctor series.
However, at that time, he was somewhat naïve. We went to a Church/school/monastery belonging to the Benedictine monks. The Abbott was a very young man, for an Abbott, being only a year or so older than me. He was slim, about six foot two and had dark wavy hair.
We followed him around and we set up the camera in the school playground where he was to come to meet the children on one of his weekly visits from the monastery next door.
Christopher started to organise the children and was about to tell them what to do. I said “You do not have to do that, Christopher, they will act spontaneously. Take it from me, I am a Catholic and I know what happens“.
He reluctantly agreed to do nothing. The children were all near the camera and, suddenly, the Abbott came in the gate at the far end of the playground. As one, they all charged towards him, dancing round, clinging to him and giving him an enormous welcome. “See what I mean, Chris ?”
We were invited to have lunch with the friars. This was held in the refectory, where there was a huge refectory table about thirty feet long. It was obviously very old and had travelled wherever the Benedictines had been. We sat down at the table that was fully occupied. The Abbott was at the head of the table and he passed round the first of many jugs of beer. The conversation turned to the quality of the beer, which was top class, but one of the friars who had been talking had let his beer go flat. One of the experts at the table believed that it was traces of the washing-up detergent, left on the glass, that flattened the beer. Another claimed to be an expert at rejuvenating a glass of beer.
All the cutlery was like pewter, silver-grey metal. The Friar took a knife and then the other friar’s glass and he plunged the knife up and down into the liquid. Suddenly it developed a large foaming head. He passed it back the owner with a “There you go”. He didn’t know why it worked. Who would have expected to learn that it a Monastery?
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