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OUR LONDON LETTER. ———— M.P.'S PERSONAL EXPLANATION., Mr Edgar Jones lost no time, after j his return from the Near East, in deal- j ing with the innuendo, put forward by one of his Liberal colleagues, that he was shirking military service. The I point of his explanation was that he was physicallv unfit to be a soldier. He had hoped to raise and lead a Merthyr battalion, but this had proved im- possible. Also he had declined to be- come a captain on the recruiting staff, a post which would have given him the credit of khaki without its perils. On the whole his apologia satisfied the House. QUOTH LLOYD GEORGE-. It is common knowledge that Mr LloYd George's "Too late." speech in the House of Commons was not at all to the liking of some of his colleagues. Nor did it please Lord Rosebury. In a speech delivered to Edinburgh men, his lordship referred to "a Minister, with a melancholy chorus like Poe's raven over the door, who seemed to indicate that all the Government had done had been too late." As Lord Rosebury once described himself as a raven croaking on a withered branch Mr. Lloyd George can scarcely object to the new application of the smile. HARD COMPENSATION CASE. A youth employed as a shunter dis- obeyed the rule against riding on the buffers. He fell off and suffered in- juries necessitating amputation of both legs. Was the railway company liable for compensation ? A county court judge, acting as arbitrator, held the view that the accident arose out of and in the course'of his employment. The case was heard in the House of Lords this week. Lords Loreburn and Par- moor took the view that the county court judge's award of 'compensation should stand, but three other Law Lords. held otherwise. Consequently, by a majority, the compensation was disallowed. "I think," remarked Lord Atkinson, "that an ill aorvico is done to the working classes in permitting such rules to be disregarded, in that it slackens discipline and encourages to carelessness and rashness, from which they themselves are the greatest ,sufferers. TELEPHONE LUXURY. When you pay your telephone rentals in London you receive along with your receipt a dainty little brochure. This tells how you may have the electro- phone installed at a cost of C5 a year for two receivers, and £10 a year for four. "Music, song, and speech" are gathered up by an appliance placed in front of 'stage, platform, or pulpit," and conveyed to the subscriber in his own home. A large number of theatres and churches are connected up. Very nice, of course, but it hardly squares with Government notions about war economies. PERILS OF THE NIGHT. Fatal accidents continue to occur in the dimly-lit streets. Policemen on duty wear red lamps in their waist- belts, and the local authorities are doing something to minimise the dangers by whitening posts and kerb- stones, but it is asserted that much more should be done in this respect. While the people do not expect the local authorities to whitewash all the edges of their pavements, they are of opinion that more method could be shown in carrying out this precaution- ary device, such as by clearly outlining those spots where there are deep drops from the sidewalks to the roadways, instead of leaving them unmarked as at present, if they do not happen to be situated at busy crossings. BOOM IN SEWING MACHINES. A fact elicited this week disposes of the silly slander that soldiers' wives and other working-class women are squandering money. There is a great boom in sewi ng machines. Very large numbers of hand and treadle machines are being purchased by women. Among these buyers are many soldiers' wives and others, who are working in their own homes, on behalf of contractors. Sewing machine canvassers, too, report that they are doing better now than for several years past, because the ex- tra wages earned by the artisan classes are permitting the purchase of a long- desired and useful article for the house- hold. Yet there are impertinent per- sons of the "superiah'' classes who per- sist in maligning working-class women. There is Mr Mare's-Nest Ronald Mc Niell, M.P., who some months ago told I the House of Commons a yarn about thousands of war babies. Statistics this week from one of the Lancashire cotton trade unions show that in the year 1915 only one maternity benefit was paid to an unmarried woman. But Mr Mare's-Net Mc Niell has not apolo- gised. "HOT AIR" CANDIDATE. Mr Pemberton Billings, the. "hot air candidate" for Mile End, gave the I Coalition candidate a nasty jolt by coming within 300 odd of winning. On polling day a squad of young airmen turned up in the constituency, and rushed hither and thither in high- power motor-cars. Naturally they at- tracted a good deal of attention. Truth to tell, Mr Pemberton Billing's attacks on the alleged inadequacy of our air defences had a marked effect on a cer- tain section of the electorate. The publicans who don't like the "short time" regulations for selling intoxi- cants were also behind Mr Pemberton Billing. and he had the doughty sup- port of two such super-patriots as Mr Ben Tillett, and Mr Horatio Bottom- ley. A strange new organisation bobbed up during the Ma.n in the Street. OVERHEARD. I They were seated in an L.C.C. tram- car, the two women, and they were engaged in excited disputation. "N ah," said one, emphatically, "I tell yer I don't believe it." "It's Gawd's trewth," rejoined the other, "1 tell yer, I oawr it in 'John Bull. OPIUM SMOKING. I An opium case which was hea-rd at I Bow-street police court has caused per- turbation in certain circles in the West-end. It has been suspected for some time that opium smoking is going on, and opium parties are held in certain flats and hotels, and it is quite possible that the police will now probe the matter to the bottom. AN INDISPENSABLE.) I A man applied to one of the tribun- als in South London for exemption, on the ground that if he was called up the business in which he was engaged would collapse. He was making a very strong case, and had much im- pressed the committee, when it oc- curred to a member of it, rather late in the proceedings perhaps, to ask him what his business was. "I'm a cat's meat man," he &aid. Needless to add, the application was refused. "DAGONET'S" CHARTIST GRAND-I FATHER. Mr G. R. Sims is writing his re- miniscences for one of the evening newspapers. One of his interesting re- velations is that his grandfather was a chartist. In '48, the year of re- volution, Dagonet's grandfather went off to the big chartist demonstration on Kennington Common, while his father, who was a special constable, got his staff ready to club the chartists on the head if necessary. The Chartist demonstration was a fiasco. The rain, the empty bluster of Fear- gus O'Connor, and. ncidentally, the cannon of the Duke of Wellington spoiled it. In his early days Dagonet was a -democrat, now he is "some" Tory. Does he ever call to mind Hood's lines about the sadness of being farther off from Heaven than when he was a boy? LUCKY BOOTBLACKS. There are always thousands of Colonial soldiers up on leave in Lon- don, and fine men they are. If there is one thing. that the Colonial soldier dislikes it is cleaning his own boots, and this little foible has resulted in a harvest for the London bootblack. Wherever you approach a shoeblack's pitch it is ten chances to one that there you will find a small queue of Colonials waiting their turn for a shoe shine. As the overseas men receive 6s. more a day, they are not short of money, and they give very generous tips to the bootblacks. BURNING MANURE. A glimpse into War Office waste, of which we shall hear a great deal WL"ll the war is over, was afforded by a question and answer in the House of Commons this week. Mr Forster, replying to Captain C. Bathurst, who asked whether the War Office are building kilns at P,50 each in order to burn the many thousands of tons of stable manure produced at the Remount Depot at Avonmouth, sta- ted that the incinerators were erected by the commandant as he was unable to get rid of the ernomous accumula- tion of manure from last winter in any other way. The difficulty has been the impossibility of obtaining railway trucks for its removal from the depot to places where it could be made avail- able for the farmers' use. What are we to say of the extravagance that burns manure in E50 kilns at a time when the Board of Agriculture is urg- ing on farmers the necessity of in- creasing the supply of home-grown food? THE ONE AND ONLY. Sir George Buchanan, our Ambassa- dor to Russia, told a very significant story in an address delivered to the English club at St. Peersburgh. Some years ago, he said, he met at the Prime Minister's house in Downing Street the recently appointed German Ambassador, Baron Marschall von Bieberstein. The hostess took them into the historic chamber where* the meetings of the Cabinet are held, and after replying to a question regard- ing the number of members she turned to the Ambassador and asked, "And how many are you in Berlin?" "One," was the curt reply. JAPANESE COMPETITION. I Many manufacturers have hailed the war as a heaven-sent opportunity to rid themselves of German competition. Now they are finding themselves up against Japanese competition. All kinds of cheap Japanese articles are finding their way into this country, and in the Middle East the Japanese are simply scooping the pool. Not only are they capturing the markets for small harwares, needles, nails, jewellery steel toys, and the like, but to con- siderable articles sold in bulk involv- ing the installation of chemical and mechanical plant on a substantial scale. One serious handicap on our manufacturers with respect to foreign trade is the extortionate freights of the shipowners.





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