FOUR-thirty of a sultry afternoon. The temperature in the Studio is at least 99 in the shade, or would be. But there is no shade. We stand children and grownups,blenching beneath the forked lightning of our Mae's eyes.
"That was simply terrible", she storms, "It cant possibly go on like that, we'll simply have to go right through it from the very beginning again, and even that won't be enough to make it fit to go on the air."
"Right through it again', we moan , looking despairingly at the clock which ticks inexorably towards 5 o' clock, "but what about tea?"
"Tea"! Mae positively withers us with her scorn. "Tea! when this Show has to og on in less than half an hour, and it s still hopelessly under-rehearsed."
We subside chap-fallen, but unresisting, completely under the sway of five foot nothing on its pretty high heels.
Just then the studio door swings open to admit an avenging Control Room expert.
"Mae", he cries, "this play is terrible. Better put on records than allow such a bad show to go on.
Our Mae swings round on her heel and surveys the intruder with a coldness more blighting than all her previous lightnings.
"It's Going On"
"Mr. Powitzer," she says haughtily in the manner of a Queen rebuking a presumptious Prime Minister, "I have exactly 25 minutes to make this play fit to go over on the air, but its going on, see."
Mr . Powitzer sees, as we all do when Mae speaks, and retires discomfited.
"And now you", she continues, turning back to her former victims, and crushing us with a glance, as if we were all under five and about to be spanked and sent to bed, "lets get on. Come along, quick — WHEN you' re ready, Mr. P ... !
" Quite ready," Ma'am , comes the meek reply. Quick then, lets run through the weakest bits, and for goodness sake, all of you, put something into it this time. Cynthia, Mary, you are supposed to be heart-broken, despairing, crying your eyes out, well, do something about it, feel it, give yourselves to it, like this - We listen, and in a moment those dead lines come alive and vibrate with the intensity of emotion which is being poured into them and then we sink back in despair. What good to try and imitate that? "As for you", she cries, coming down to earth again, and pouncing on the male chorus in the background, "You are supposed to be a crowd getting terrible excited and horrified at what is happening, well, do something, don't stand dumb like a lot of stookies, imagine you see it, feel it call out, cry , groan , say any thing you like, but get on with it, do you understand?"
The male chorus shuffles sheepishly as they nod and promise to do what they can.
And as for you over in the corner there", she calls out, fixing a hardened offender with a terrible eye, "If you keep knitting, and miss your cue again. I'll — I'll —" Even Mae s imagination boggles at a punishment fit for such a crime, but the needles click no more.
Are You Ready?
"Now are you all ready? quick to your places children. Mrs. T. will you poke the little ones at their cues and Audy , if you dare giggle . . . Right. Cue, Mr. Powitzer . . .
And so the last minute rehearsal goes through, with our Mae pushing, poking, hustling, scolding, stimulating and encouraging, giving of herself without stint to her little band of hopeless inefficients until the red light flicks out and our task is done.
Then Mae drops her script, puts up a hand to her agitated curls and, suddenly breaks into that peculiarly disarming smile of hers.
"Well kids" she says with a twinkle, I dont think that went quite so badly after all. Quick all, of you, you've just got time for a cup of tea and a biscuit while I do the announcing ... Run.
So we run — Or is it Mae who runs, disappearing down the corridor of the years for ever.
She looked a little wistfully,
And went her sunshine way.
This was Mae Merry.
In trying to write of the death of a friend it is difficult to detach one's thoughts from the pain of his parting, and to recall the more happy days that are past. In the case of Adeeb Mansour, who died as a result of the wicked and senseless bomb outrage in the P.B.S. studkos, it is even more difficult , so shocking and sudden was his end.
Adeeb had an intense desire to live. Only a few days before his death I was discussing with him the happiness which is brought by a life lived to the full, a thing so difficult to achieve in these troublous times which weigh so heavily on the spirit. Born in Jerusalem in 1904, Adeeb's childhood was overshadowed by the terrible years of the war and it was not till he went to Berlin in 1922 that he felt he had begun to live. There, during the time of his study at the Strehlitz Engineering University, which lasted until 1927, he learnt the full savour of life, and as he told me during our talk, achieved a standard which he always strove to maintain. Not many of us could honestly claim to have done this as he did, nor would any be found to dispute his success.
Adeeb in Arabic means polite, and no name could have been more truly bestowed in baptism. Broadcasting is a job which entails many crises, when nerves may easily be frayed and tempers lost, but never once did I see Adeeb Mansour lose his cheerfulness or his efficiency. Always ready to take on any job and to help in any difficulty, he undertook his task with a cheerful efficiency which did not show any sign of the strain which he was undergoing. Unmarried, he would have been a wonderful father, for his nature was such that it exercised a wonderful attraction for children, of the sort that only comes from true gentleness of nature.
The P.B.S. has lost one of its best engineers, well trained in his profession and helped by his wide interests and love of music. But what does that matter, compared to the loss which this country has suffered of a truly Christian gentleman? The finest memorial which can be given to him is that we who knew him should follow his example and live our lives to the full, for in this way we can do something to fill the gap made by his loss. R[alph] P[oston]