In praise of beautiful prose.

None better than Alistair Cooke.

In 1968 I went out to live in Sydney, Australia.

By chance a work colleague in my workplace in Sydney introduced me to an organization called Rostrum. They still exist today and as their ‘About’ page on their website explains:

The History of Rostrum

Rostrum Australia is an association of public speaking clubs, founded on 21 July 1930. The original Rostrum club (“The Rostrum”) was founded in Manchester, England, on 21 July 1923 and its first meeting was held under a yew tree at Greendale Farm near Manchester. The first meeting in Australia was held under an Angophora tree in 1930.

This makes Rostrum the longest-running public speaking organisation in the world.

General Information

Rostrum clubs aim to help their members improve their speaking and meeting skills. They do this primarily through regular club meetings and less frequent competitions. The main national competition for members is the Sidney Wicks Speaking Competition, held about every 6 years. State and territory competitions are held throughout the year.

It was a marvelous connection for me for later on in life I was required to give many public speeches.

Anyway, back to those days in Sydney. I still recall how one meeting was devoted to listening to and understanding one of the most eloquent and masterful speakers ever: Alistair Cooke. Listening to Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America on BBC radio was a passion for me until the day he died.

Alistair Cooke
Alistair Cooke

Here’s how Wikipedia describes this wonderful man.

Alistair Cooke, KBE (20 November 1908 – 30 March 2004) was a British journalist, television personality and broadcaster.[1] Outside his journalistic output, which included Letter from America and Alistair Cooke’s America, he was well known in the United States as the host of PBS Masterpiece Theatre from 1971 to 1992. After holding the job for 22 years, and having worked in television for 42 years, Cooke retired in 1992, although he continued to present Letter from America until shortly before his death. He was the father of author and folk singer John Byrne Cooke.

It was a great pleasure to discover that the BBC still holds archives of many of the broadcasts of Letter from America but, in addition, some of Alistair Cooke’s broadcasts are on YouTube.

Please settle down for 15 minutes and listen to one of best writers and speakers to have graced this world.

Broadcast on Fri 12 Dec 1980, BBC Radio

The shooting of John Lennon on the 8th December 1980 sparks a debate over the need for national gun control law in America.

Some issues never go out of date!

4 thoughts on “In praise of beautiful prose.

  1. I used to love Mr. Cooke as the host of Masterpiece Theater. The gun control issue is one that I would be pleased to see go out of date. I know that they tried to have other hosts of MT but no one could compare to Mr. Cooke. Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane, Paul!

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