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805 In England Now A Running Commentary by Peripatetic Correspondents HAVING at last visited Eire I can now reveal that it is a country of wide straight roads, ass-carts, and beshawled women ; of bare-footed and undernourished children ; of humble indigence and evasive answers ; of mingled friendliness and suspicion ; of teetotal bar- maids ; of single-track railways ; of abundance of food and drink for those with the means to pay for them, and a lack of most other material comforts ; of dogs and priests; of ruins, squalor, and desuetude ; of great natural beauty ; of too much peace ; of brooding sadness and listlessness. Mirabile dictu, we saw no rain in Eire. Neither did we see a blood-horse, a foxhound, or a game bird. * * * The man who travels by air today will enjoy the part of his journey that he spends in the air. He will find modern transport planes fast, safe, and comfortable, the pilots skilled,.the crews attentive, the food excellent. If he is undertaking a one-stage journey he will be unlikely to suffer inconvenience. But if he is on a longer journey which touches several countries in transit he will find a very different state of things. For every hour that he spends in comfort in the air he will spend forty minutes on the ground subjected to every discomfort and indig- nity. He will rise three hours before the plane is due to take the air, and he will normally spend three hours after it touches down before he enters his hotel room. Even though the day’s flight is only four or five hours he must still wake before dawn and wait about in the night air. Further, he is made to realise that the purchase of an air ticket in itself transforms him from a harmless citizen into an international suspect. For every country at which his plane may possibly call, even for half an hour to refuel, he must obtain a visa and pay for it, and must fill up a questionnaire saying why he wishes to visit that country and when he was there before, and must give all details of his past life and evidence of multiple inocula- tions. Whenever on his journey he comes down in a fresh country, he must stand with his fellows in a queue, and trickle slowly, very slowly, past a group of officials. The more backward and therefore aggressively nationalist the country, the more irritating will be the inquisition, even to the entering longhand into a ledger of every detail of every passport down to the colour of eyes and hair, the inquiry into his day-to-day movements for the previous fortnight, and the examination by a health official. If he is due to stop the night he must in addition pass through the Customs and have his money counted and entered on his passport. Finally he is driven ten to twenty miles to a hotel, where he is billeted with one or two other fellow-travellers in one of the less good rooms and treated with all the civility that a non-paying guest usually receives. After a few hours’ sleep he is roused again at 4 A.M., to face the same long drive and pass through the same currency control before he resumes once more his seat in the plane. At every major stop he must, in addition, face the uncertainty as to whether he will, in fact, continue on his journey at all. To the humble traveller the word " PRIORITY " looms large. Anyone on an important mission, anyone with political pull-in some countries anyone who has distributed backsheesh in the right quarters-may displace him, and he may be stranded at some out-of-the-way island or junctional airport, short of money, unsuitably dressed, to wait for that indefinite opportunity when a plane shall come along with room to take him farther on his journey. When his route involves a change from one air line to another his troubles increase. Competing services take a delight in disclaiming all responsibility for the bookings made by other companies on their planes, and the unfortunate traveller may find himself faced with the choice of abandoning hope and travelling for a week , by land or sea to his destination twelve flying hours I away, or seeing his name go to the bottom of a list already filled up for a week or two ahead. Those who are skilful in the use of bluff, threats, entreaty, or palm-oil lnay get into the air ; the meek inherit the earth. * This is all very wrong. What should be the pleasantest form of travel is now the most harassing, for reasons which are none of them inherent in flying and which could all be removed. Here are a few suggestions from one who is recovering from a series of journeys. 1. Priorities should be abolished altogether. Govern- ments, services, businesses, and wealthy individuals who require air transport at short notice should hire special planes for the purpose. 2. There’should be a firm liaison between all air lines, so that a traveller can book from the start to the finish of a complex journey and be sure of a connexion at each stage, and an allotted seat in a specified plane. The scramble for seats that is often seen at night stops could be avoided by giving passengers a seat for the duration of their trip, and allotting seats before emplaning to those who join af intermediate stops. 3. The time-table on the ground should be drastically revised to cut out delays. At present’an average of three hours elapses between the summons and the start, much of it spent waiting because officials have not yet arrived, standing in interminable queues because they are not numerous enough or efficient enough, waiting for planes that are not yet fuelled or warmed up. A passenger should be able to drive up to the aerodrome half an hour before the advertised time of departure, get weighed, and go straight to his allotted seat. 4. An agreement should be reached between countries on the main air routes to cut out all formalities that are purely irritative, and to cut out many of them altogether. At one part on the route to the Far East the flying-boat stops for an hour, and while it is refuelled the passengers are taken to a ral"t moorea on tne river ior a cup 01 coffee. They do not go ashore, but they must line up to have their passports examined and their inoculation certificates checked up. Such a formality has no appre- ciable purpose beyond that of bloody-mindedness. 6. Hotels should be established at all important transit aerodromes and treated ’as extra-national territory. If passengers are confined to the building and checked only if they leave it, the formalities which make air travel wearying and exasperating can be cut out without risk. The structure and furnishings could be of the simplest, but each passenger should have a room and a bath, and there should be facilities for writing and posting letters. and sending telegrams, and a few shops. While adjacent to the aerodrome, the hotel should be away from the refuelling site and the main runway; one otherwise excellent air hotel is made impossible because planes tune up their engines all night outside the bedroom windows. 6. In flight, some small improvements would add to the interest of the traveller. Every purchaser of a ticket on these long-distance routes should be sent a written resume of the main parts of the itinerary, to enable him to shop and pack for the journey. He should be told what extremes of temperature will be encountered, and what facilities there are for having linen washed. He should be given advice about money-e.g., travellers’ cheques are of little value during the journey and B.O.A.C. currency coupons are essential. He should be advised on drugs-e.g., attacks of " tropical tummy " are very common, for which sulphaguanidine is an immediate and the only useful remedy. He should be warned that a fountain-pen cannot be used during flight. The passen- gers are naturally interested in the performance of the plane and the country over which they are flying ; so a large-scale map of the day’s course should be on the wall of the cabin, and a compass and air-speed indicator should be on the forward bulkhead. Writing-paper with the ship’s name should be provided. An illustrated travel book of the route should be on sale, explaining the geographical and historical features of the country below, the climate and agriculture that account for the land features and the buildings on the ground, and the weather and trading or fishing habits that have produced the rigs that are seen in the harbours. * * * If you can’t call an unregistered nurse " nurse " (as you won’t be able to after Dec. 31) what the dickens can you call her? ’’Miss Smith," perhaps? Surely not. But already the nursing-homes have solved this one. They call them all "sister," which to most of us indicates a very superior person indeed

In England Now

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In England NowA Running Commentary by Peripatetic CorrespondentsHAVING at last visited Eire I can now reveal that

it is a country of wide straight roads, ass-carts, andbeshawled women ; of bare-footed and undernourishedchildren ; of humble indigence and evasive answers ;of mingled friendliness and suspicion ; of teetotal bar-maids ; of single-track railways ; of abundance of foodand drink for those with the means to pay for them, anda lack of most other material comforts ; of dogs andpriests; of ruins, squalor, and desuetude ; of greatnatural beauty ; of too much peace ; of brooding sadnessand listlessness. Mirabile dictu, we saw no rain in Eire.Neither did we see a blood-horse, a foxhound, or a gamebird.

* * *

The man who travels by air today will enjoy the partof his journey that he spends in the air. He will findmodern transport planes fast, safe, and comfortable,the pilots skilled,.the crews attentive, the food excellent.If he is undertaking a one-stage journey he will be unlikelyto suffer inconvenience. But if he is on a longer journeywhich touches several countries in transit he will find avery different state of things. For every hour that hespends in comfort in the air he will spend forty minuteson the ground subjected to every discomfort and indig-nity. He will rise three hours before the plane is due totake the air, and he will normally spend three hoursafter it touches down before he enters his hotel room.Even though the day’s flight is only four or five hours hemust still wake before dawn and wait about in the nightair.Further, he is made to realise that the purchase of

an air ticket in itself transforms him from a harmlesscitizen into an international suspect. For every countryat which his plane may possibly call, even for half anhour to refuel, he must obtain a visa and pay for it, andmust fill up a questionnaire saying why he wishes to visitthat country and when he was there before, and must giveall details of his past life and evidence of multiple inocula-tions. Whenever on his journey he comes down in afresh country, he must stand with his fellows in a queue,and trickle slowly, very slowly, past a group of officials.The more backward and therefore aggressively nationalistthe country, the more irritating will be the inquisition,even to the entering longhand into a ledger of everydetail of every passport down to the colour of eyes andhair, the inquiry into his day-to-day movements forthe previous fortnight, and the examination by a healthofficial. If he is due to stop the night he must in additionpass through the Customs and have his money countedand entered on his passport. Finally he is driven ten totwenty miles to a hotel, where he is billeted with one ortwo other fellow-travellers in one of the less good roomsand treated with all the civility that a non-paying guestusually receives. After a few hours’ sleep he is rousedagain at 4 A.M., to face the same long drive and passthrough the same currency control before he resumesonce more his seat in the plane.At every major stop he must, in addition, face the

uncertainty as to whether he will, in fact, continue onhis journey at all. To the humble traveller the word" PRIORITY " looms large. Anyone on an importantmission, anyone with political pull-in some countriesanyone who has distributed backsheesh in the rightquarters-may displace him, and he may be strandedat some out-of-the-way island or junctional airport,short of money, unsuitably dressed, to wait for thatindefinite opportunity when a plane shall come alongwith room to take him farther on his journey.When his route involves a change from one air line

to another his troubles increase. Competing servicestake a delight in disclaiming all responsibility for thebookings made by other companies on their planes, andthe unfortunate traveller may find himself faced withthe choice of abandoning hope and travelling for a week

, by land or sea to his destination twelve flying hours

I away, or seeing his name go to the bottom of a listalready filled up for a week or two ahead. Those whoare skilful in the use of bluff, threats, entreaty, or palm-oillnay get into the air ; the meek inherit the earth.

*

This is all very wrong. What should be the pleasantestform of travel is now the most harassing, for reasonswhich are none of them inherent in flying and whichcould all be removed. Here are a few suggestions fromone who is recovering from a series of journeys.

1. Priorities should be abolished altogether. Govern-ments, services, businesses, and wealthy individualswho require air transport at short notice should hirespecial planes for the purpose.

2. There’should be a firm liaison between all air lines,so that a traveller can book from the start to the finishof a complex journey and be sure of a connexion at eachstage, and an allotted seat in a specified plane. Thescramble for seats that is often seen at night stops couldbe avoided by giving passengers a seat for the durationof their trip, and allotting seats before emplaning tothose who join af intermediate stops.

3. The time-table on the ground should be drasticallyrevised to cut out delays. At present’an average of threehours elapses between the summons and the start,much of it spent waiting because officials have not yetarrived, standing in interminable queues because theyare not numerous enough or efficient enough, waiting forplanes that are not yet fuelled or warmed up. A passengershould be able to drive up to the aerodrome half an hourbefore the advertised time of departure, get weighed,and go straight to his allotted seat.

4. An agreement should be reached between countrieson the main air routes to cut out all formalities that arepurely irritative, and to cut out many of them altogether.At one part on the route to the Far East the flying-boatstops for an hour, and while it is refuelled the passengersare taken to a ral"t moorea on tne river ior a cup 01coffee. They do not go ashore, but they must line upto have their passports examined and their inoculationcertificates checked up. Such a formality has no appre-ciable purpose beyond that of bloody-mindedness.

6. Hotels should be established at all important transitaerodromes and treated ’as extra-national territory. Ifpassengers are confined to the building and checked onlyif they leave it, the formalities which make air travelwearying and exasperating can be cut out without risk.The structure and furnishings could be of the simplest,but each passenger should have a room and a bath, andthere should be facilities for writing and posting letters.and sending telegrams, and a few shops. While adjacentto the aerodrome, the hotel should be away from therefuelling site and the main runway; one otherwiseexcellent air hotel is made impossible because planes tuneup their engines all night outside the bedroom windows.

6. In flight, some small improvements would add tothe interest of the traveller. Every purchaser of a ticketon these long-distance routes should be sent a writtenresume of the main parts of the itinerary, to enable himto shop and pack for the journey. He should be toldwhat extremes of temperature will be encountered, andwhat facilities there are for having linen washed. Heshould be given advice about money-e.g., travellers’cheques are of little value during the journey and B.O.A.C.currency coupons are essential. He should be advisedon drugs-e.g., attacks of " tropical tummy " are verycommon, for which sulphaguanidine is an immediate andthe only useful remedy. He should be warned that afountain-pen cannot be used during flight. The passen-gers are naturally interested in the performance of theplane and the country over which they are flying ; so alarge-scale map of the day’s course should be on the wallof the cabin, and a compass and air-speed indicatorshould be on the forward bulkhead. Writing-paper withthe ship’s name should be provided. An illustratedtravel book of the route should be on sale, explaining thegeographical and historical features of the country below,the climate and agriculture that account for the landfeatures and the buildings on the ground, and the weatherand trading or fishing habits that have produced the rigsthat are seen in the harbours.

* * *

If you can’t call an unregistered nurse " nurse " (as youwon’t be able to after Dec. 31) what the dickens can youcall her? ’’Miss Smith," perhaps? Surely not. Butalready the nursing-homes have solved this one. Theycall them all "sister," which to most of us indicates avery superior person indeed