10 FEBRUARY 1961, Page 38

Postscript • • • QUITE the best comment on the

new Sunday Tele- graph and its slogan about `filling the gap' (as though it were a chocolate bar) was in the Guardian's London Letter : 'the gap which this first issue ob- viously filled was that between Saturday's Daily Telegraph and Monday's.' The news columns were professionally handled, as are the daily's; the `home' and 'fashion' features, like the daily's, all looked as though they had been written for a rather more socially anxious sort of reader; and in its leading article, which urged Mr. Butler to make up his mind about capital punishment, the new paper failed to reveal whether it had yet made up its own. (Though I shouldn't need more than one guess as to how it is made up.) The editor of the Sunday Telegraph made a great point of the paper's smaller size: 'this is meant to be a paper that you can read through —and finish in one day.' But the type is so small, and the columns so tight, that although the Sunday Telegraph is only twenty-eight pages to the forty pages apiece of the other two posh Sundays, I'd wager that there's more than seven- tenths of the reading matter.

The other Sundays gave the new boy a cour- teous welcome—all except the Sunday Times, which, animadverting on 'filling the gap,' ob- served that the Sunday Telegraph 'seems to be aimed at the reader who is dissatisfied with the flippancy, the cultural vacuity . . . of the "popu- lars" but it not yet quite up to the high cultural and political standards which THE SUNDAY TIMES characteristically maintains. . . ."Peter- borough,' in Monday's Daily Telegraph, sorrow- fully considered this 'a sneer at the whole of the rest of the Sunday press, and a declaration of such complacency as I thought had gone out of fashion.' Personally, I thought that the Sunday Times had meant to be funny, and was.

In any case, a newspaper can hardly complain of the complacency of others when its editor writes that, 'we shall revive the art of reportage . . . by bringing the imaginative writer to the news situation. . . .' This isn't, perhaps, a golden age of reporting, but a very high percentage of Fleet Street's best reporters are on the other two serious Sundays, and very good they are— men like Patrick O'Donovan and Tom Stacey, Rawle Knox and Gavin Lyall—and it is unfair, misleading and smug of the Sunday Telegraph to write as thought they don't exist or will have to be taught their job.

I had no idea, until I looked in at the spring session of the Church Assembly the other day, that the Church of England looked after its affairs in such up-to-the-minute surroundings. The House of Clergy was meeting in the great rotunda of an assembly hall at Church House, all pale wood, `contemporary' light-fittings, built- in amplifiers at every desk, and an illuminated device to signal the item on the agenda, and the number in the printed list of each speaker—just like the illuminated numbers at the side of the stage that tell you what music-hall turn is on as you come back from the bar.

Such amenities made all the more poignant the complaint of one member who, in the course of the discussion on marriage and burial fees, wanted to know where the money was coming from to keep his graveyard tidy, especially now that wreaths were no longer made up on willow, which he could burn, but on wire, which he had to pay someone to take away.

Among the 130 or so members present were two beards—one young and black; one middle- aged and grey—and only one set of moustaches, a wholehearted Walter Paterish sort of affair. I don't know whether 130 members of the House of Clergy, from parish priests to deans, consti- tutes a professional pollster's slice of the pro- fession, but I think that only one pair of moustaches and a brace of beards on well over a hundred Anglican faces is pretty near the national average. When did moustaches, worn with dog-collars, come to signify noncon- formity?

Up in the press gallery there was an agree- ably worldly touch. The agenda papers were dis- tributed to the reporters there by a lay official wearing the tie of that least clerical, most bon- homous of clubs, the Savage.

* Wine is a living thing and, like all living things, sometimes behaves in unaccountable ways. None more so than sherry. There is no knowing whether a cask of young wine will turn out to be a fino or an oloroso, for it is not the grape, nor the year nor the soil that decides, but some mysterious influence that nobody has ever de- fined or discovered. Then again, the solera System is hard to understand : I had read about sherry for years and never fully understood this system of production until I visited the Jerez vineyards and bodegas and talked endlessly to growers and shippers. Now, along comes the most comprehensive and most comprehensible book I have read on the subject—Sherry, by Julian Jeffs (Faber, 36s.), out today—which ex- plains much that I had to go to Jerez to find out. Though it may be that it could have said more about manzanilla, the most unaccountable even of sherries, and to others not a sherry at all. It is what the sherry grapes produce if bred and blended at Sanlucar de Barrameda, though it turns into one of the other sorts of sherry if taken in cask to Jerez, a dozen miles away, just as Jerez wine in cask becomes manzanilla at Sanlucar. Mr. Jeffs claims that it can only be drunk at Sanlucar, too, but those who would like to discover for themselves how it differs from a fino will find good ones at the Army and Navy Stores, and at the pretty little shop of Andre Simon fits in Bury Street, St. James's— both at 17s., and both dry and very delicate wines, highly appetising before a good dinner.