Life isn’t always rosy, but Que Sera, Sera

Life isn’t always rosy, but Que Sera, Sera Doris Day

I don’t think I ever really understood loneliness when I was younger. Feeling lonely? Then join a club, develop an interest, get involved with a social project. The solution is in your own hands!

But perhaps we grow more understanding with age – hopefully so, anyway – and I have come to empathise, much more than I used to, about the issues of loneliness.

You can join all sorts of clubs and societies, and still feel, essentially, quite lonely. You can be in the middle of a crowd, and feel alone. You can attend events and still have the sensation of being solitary. However gregarious you try to be, you may experience that “existential loneliness” which I think St John of the Cross meant by “the dark night of the soul”.


And older people experience more loneliness because so many of those they knew and loved have departed this world. Their thoughts go back to their families and friends, their brothers and sisters, who once seemed to be always there – and just aren’t materially present any more. Loneliness is not just being isolated – it’s also about loss.

I once interviewed Marlene Dietrich when I was a young journalist and she was moving towards the senior years. She had very little to say, except, in that smoky German accent, “all my friends are dead”. How depressing, I thought. But now I understand.

It’s terrific that Eureka Secondary in Kells, Co Meath are promoting a social programme to alleviate loneliness among older people, calling it ‘Never Home Alone’, and urging the Department of Education to spread it wider. The idea is to bring older and younger people together, in various activities like dancing, arts and crafts, cooking and karaoke.

Churchgoers everywhere are less likely to feel lonely

It’s a project that church communities could align themselves with. After all, churchgoers everywhere – according to Pew research in America – are less likely to feel isolated, and more likely to have that sense of community

Loneliness can be ameliorated by more social awareness of its pervasiveness. Yet there’s a part of the solitary experience that is inevitable in the journey of life.


Many will be the fond memories of Doris Day [pictured], songstress and film performer who featured in so many entertaining movies in years gone by and who died, aged 97, on Monday.

Calamity Jane was a defining DD film, though I don’t think it would pass muster these days with the ‘woke’ cultural commissars. The storyline is about a tomboy gal who falls in love with an attractive hunk (Howard Keel) and then, under the aura of love, waxes feminine and womanly. (If they ever re-make it, Calamity will probably be re-cast as transgender.) But Ms Day dazzled as the buckskin sharpshooter and delivered her performance with brio.

Her most celebrated song was probably ‘Que Sera, Sera’ from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. It’s melodic and engaging, but the message is rather fatalistic – ‘what will be, will be’. It implies we are the passive playthings of fate – ‘kismet’, rather than free will.


A feel for the good old days

I was taken, last Sunday, to an Anglican Communion service at the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy, in central London. It’s a beautiful little chapel often used by Queen Elizabeth; there are exquisite stained glass windows (one featuring St Brigid) and a stunningly pretty ceiling, decorated in a lattice design on a blue background.

Sunday morning service is tranquil, formal, with wonderful organ music, and prayers taken from the traditional Anglican Prayer Book – a Reformation translation of Catholic Latin prayers.

There were no women on the altar – the choir was all male, as were the readers and the chaplain, the Rev. Canon Peter Galloway. Communion was received kneeling at an altar rail, and reverently approached by the congregation. The whole tone was quiet and reflective, and it reminded me of pre-Vatican II devotions in the Catholic Church. It’s not, of course, the same as the Mass, but there are similarities in style with old-fashioned Catholic devotion.

After the 11am service, the congregation was welcomed to refreshments, which includes a glass of wine – Her Majesty’s hospitality, you might say.

In these ecumenical days we visit each other’s churches in friendly fashion, and the Royal Chapel is certainly an interesting experience for visitors to London.