Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 10, No. 11. July 30, 1947
Sinbad's London Diary
Sinbad's London Diary
Today is midsummer day, when Puck and Robin Good fellow and their fairy gangs are disporting among the toadstools. But unless they work by Greenwich Mean Time they will find it hard to conceal their junketings from wandering mortals. With our two hours of Double Summer Time the sun sets at half past ten, and twilight stretches on past bedtime almost to the small hours. It is a mixed blessing. For those who enjoy that sort of thing it is pleasant to wander in the park or on the common in the long evenings, or sit in the garden being eaten by mosquitoes. But it is odd to go to the theatre, which will usually start at seven, and come out at ten to find Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus in sober daylight, with none of the glamour of half-lit faces and blazing headlamps.
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What a fuss about the Housewives' League. They are a bunch of middle-class women agitated by the loss of their pre-war privileges. They met in the Albert Hall, but the exhortations of their leaders were drowned by the interjections and ejections (not to mention face scratching) of some Labour and Communist supporters. The subsequent "March on Trafalgar Square." led by "The Founder," Mrs. Crisp, in her Daimler; was a deadly fiasco. But the dailies gave them a big write-up (was it wise to break up their meeting? They got some undeserved advertising), and Sir Hartley Shawcross and Sir Stafford Cripps were provoked into replying. Our political "Comic Cuts." the "Evening Standard." is now trying to prove that Mr. Dalton's very welcome tax relief on household utensils is a compensation to the housewives for the nasty things the Rt. Hons, had to say about this organisation.
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The Housewives' League is, in fact, if not legally, a right wing auxiliary of the Conservatives. Its propaganda is pure reaction, even antisemitic, and there are some nasty traits which smell suspiciously like fascism in its organisation and content. They demand the relaxation of controls, and indeed, the wealthier middle class women benefit by an action which, as Europe shows, would fill the shops with goods at staggering prices. But the real problem that faces housewives (and they more directly only because they control the family budget) is the difficulty of adjusting incomes 50% above pre-war to prices that have risen 100%. Certain baste items of food are pegged, but most goods and services cost enormously more and prices are rising. The solution is not easy. Price control may drive some items under the counter. Wage increases in a free enterprise may be only another revolution of the inflationary spiral. But some means should be found of keeping down, say, vegetable prices, and of raising the standard of living of such poorly paid groups as railway and building workers.
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I am pleasantly astonished by the knowledge of "classical" music shown by most people I have met. In a class strictly comparable with N.Z. University people there is a familiarity with and liking for orchestral music which is quite new to me. I have yet to meet a jazz fiend, swing fan, or jive expert. Musical topics, of conversation are symphonies and conductors, concerts and operas, pianists and fiddlers. If a tune is whistled, it is likely to be either a theme from a Beethoven Concerto, or, oddly enough, one of those delicate delicious folk songs beloved of tramping club re-unions. The reasons, I think, are three-fold. There are far more opportunities for hearing good music well played. The culture is not dominated by American "canned music" as I think N.Z. is. And, perhaps, the class divisions are more pronounced, with a greater cultural cleavage between educated middle class and working class people.