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Saturday, October 29, 2016
Norman Cresswell - obituary and auto-obituary
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¬†Norman Cresswell, founding editor of The Catholic Times has died, aged 72. After a lifetime in journalism, Cresswell took the unusual step of penning his own obituary ≠ or 'Restin Piece' (published below) ≠ and asking a friend to circulate it after his death. Cresswell came out of retirement in September 1993 to relaunch The Catholic Times which bears the motto 'Follow Peter'. The pundits said it wouldn't last til Christmas but nearly eight years on The Catholic Times remains Britain's best-selling weekly religious broadsheet. A former BBC TV and Radio news and feature writer and presenter, Cresswell created, wrote and presented the children's radio tales of Tibbles the Church Mouse. He spent several years in industrial publishing before launching Britain's first ever tabloid religious newspapers. The Midlands Pictorial, a Church of England weekly, was soon followed by The Catholic Pictorial chain in Birmingham, Liverpool and London. The Liverpool office also produced Mersey Mirror and Teenways which had the unusual distinction of being sold to teenage girls through convent schools. Since his second retirement in 1996, Cresswell earned a strong following for his weekly 'View from the Pew' column in The Catholic Times in which he mused upon the ups, downs and eccentricities of life. His book of daily meditations, Through the Year with the Catholic Faith, was published by Harper Collins last year. His entry in Who's Who in Catholic Life Cresswell lists his recreations as: 'Identifying future bishops and looking for country cottages'. In an interview shortly before his death, Cresswell described his Catholicism as 'a culture inbred in the bone'. 'We've all drifted away, he said. 'We can stray from Catholicism but we'll come back to it. You can't get rid of it. 'The Church leaves us with an image of God which is wholly personal. In Jesus we saw a person who was available for all the tears and all the sorrows there were in the world.' Norman Cresswell is survived by his wife Mary ≠ also a journalist ≠ and their sons Mark and Nicholas. by Nick Baty Norman Cresswell's auto-obituary or 'Restin' Piece' In a life of surprises, death came to Norman Cresswell as the biggest yet. In fact, clutching his glass of Teachers, pipe clenched between his teeth, he was heard to mutter, 'What an easy way to meet a deadline'. He was 72 ≠ an age he never asked God to be. In truth, he always rather resented being older than 40, an age at which he was convinced men had either done what they had to do or would not be doing it. Bigot, miser, grump, he tried to ensure a quorum at his Requiem by promising the wine would flow and his wife, Mary, would not be doing the cooking. The seven present afterwards claimed to have enjoyed the occasion. Cresswell earned his first literary fee by writing the obituary of his parish priest. The Universe gave him five shillings and he was overjoyed. Unfortunately the parish priest was not yet dead and it was some time ≠ 50 years ≠ before The Universe paid him any more money. At 17 he left the care of the Benedictines to join the Palestine police ≠ lured on by the promise of '£20 a month and all found'. By the time he discovered that 'all found' included a knife in the back and a bullet in the leg it was too late. But Cresswell always tended to be a little precipitous. Others called it bloody stupidity. Like when he went back to Palestine only to join the losing side. Let's skip over the next 45 years ≠ Cresswell did. In turn he was a night taxi driver, a private detective, the owner of a travelling theatre, the director of a news agency, a teacher, a welfare officer, a broadcaster and an editor. In the last task he made a fatal mistake ≠ instead of starting the first ever freesheet, he produced a Catholic newspaper and ensured for himself a life of poverty only alleviated by occasional bouts of simony. At the end of his life he frequently expressed surprise that he had managed to buy so much whisky with so little talent. He doesn't ask to Rest In Peace, hoping to quest in adventure. Norman William Cresswell Born: 2nd September 1928 Died: 13th August, 2001 Parents: Dr Norman Joseph Cresswell and Anne (nee Waldschmidt) Married: 1965 Mary Rooney Two sons: Nicholas and Mark Educated: Penryn Prep School, Belmont Abbey School, St Paul's College, Cheltenham
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