The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have an unlimited capacity for making a muck of things. In preparation for the visit of the Pope, they have produced a 32 page booklet called "Heart Speaks unto Heart".
Rarely can such a amateurishly produced piece of typography have been printed in such large numbers - at least a million copies, probably more.
There was a time when many of Britain's leading typographic designers were Catholics. There is Eric Gill, of course, designer of the famous Sans and Perpetua typefaces. There is Edward Johnson, who designed the sans-serif Johnston typeface that was used throughout the London Underground system from around 1916 until it was re-designed in the 1980s, as well as the famous roundel symbol. There is Stanley Morison, who designed what is probably the world's most-used typeface, Times New Roman.
So what have the Bishops given us? A publication that breaks every rule of typography. The recommended length of a line is 2 1/2 alphabets, that is about 65 characters. The average line in the book has well over 80 characters and some have as many as 95. Most fonts need white space between each lines, known as leading. This booklet has none. These two defects make the book very difficult to read at all, so it probably will not be. I have not read the thing and have no intention of doing so. The Bishops have just wasted our money.
The general design of the publication is appalling. Those fliers that supermarkets send out with a list of the current bargain offers are sophisticated in comparison. The pages are cluttered and confusing. There is little white space, which makes it difficult for the reader to orientate himself. Most of the pictures are of poor quality, of little interest, and not worth publishing.
And all of this in full-colour printing throughout, which is never cheap.
If the Bishops cannot get arrange for the production of a simple booklet without it having the mark of incompetence and ignorance stamped on every page, what can they get right? The message that comes across loud and clear is "We are ignorant, incompetent philistines!"
Considering that the Catholic Mass has brought forth the ultimate in world art, there is something very wrong here.
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