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OUR LONDON LETTER, j I [From Our Special Correspondent.] J The Lord Mayor of London thinks that. few things contribute more to the happiness of mankind than digestible and daintily- served food. He is quite right, and he ought to know, for the mayoral year of office is a trying ordeal of unending banquets. Sir George Truscott was led to make that obser- vation in opening the extension of the Baking and Confectionery School at the Borough Polytechnic. The school is of more than local interest, for students come to it from all parts of the country, from all parts of the Empire, and from all parts of the world. It has never lacked pupils to learn how to make bread on the most scientific principles, but what it wants now are teachers to carry the work into the pro- vinces. A prize of one hundred guineas is offered as an inducement to young men who are prepared to go through the course of scientific baking, and then take up a pro- vincial position in a municipal technical school, should it be found for them. The lady from the provinces who is addicted to a giddy week .in London will re- joice to hear that sixpenny cab fares are to y 'be established on the first of next month. About 700 or 800 cabs will be on the streets, flying a little flag to indicate that the drivers are willing to carry a fare for the distance of one mile for the sum "'of one sixpence. Hitherto the minimum has been one shilling, and naturally enough plenty of folk have pre- ferred the motor-'bus and the electric tram- car, where the fare is fixed, and the change is not handed out with unlimited lan- gwidge." Richer folk have taken a "taxi," but this means eightpence a mile, and cer- tain of the proprietors are now declaring that the sum should be more than that. Some of the owners of the horse-cabs say that the I taximeter should be made compulsory on these vehicles, but the Home Secretary can- not be induced to take this course, and so, until he does, the experiment of sixpenny fares, for one mile without the taximeter is to be tried. I hope it will be successful. There is plenty of room in London for "tanner- cabs," and plenty of people who will be only too glad to ride in them. "Drurialanus," as one likes to call Mr. Arthur Collins, the presiding genius of Drury Lane, has begun his season early. "The Whip is the title of the new sensation, which has for its theme a nefarious conspiracy to prevent the favourite from reaching New- market in time to run in the Two Thousand. The great scene) in the play is the railway collision, which is brought about with the object of killing the favourite in his horse- bqpe. Needless to say, the favourite escapes just in the nick of time. The horse-racing, too, is among the best ever seen on the boards. Another big theatrical event in London has been the reopening of the Hay- I market, under Mr. Herbert Trench's 1 management, with a beautiful revival of f "King Lear." Had King George III. been on the throne we should have been denied the performance, out of deference to his I Majesty's mental condition, but in this res- pect, if in no other, the stage to-day is happier than it was a century ago. We still have the Censor, but how long he will remain is on the knees of the Commission who are enquiring into his behaviour. Steamboats at last. After long weeks of weary waiting the promoters of the scheme for placing a fleet of steamboats on the Thames have obtained the necessary capital of xio,ooo. With this sum fourteen boats, which still remain out of the L.C.C. fleet, will be purchased, and in a week or two a few of them will be running between London- bridge and Greenwich. It would be i(ile to deny that London has felt the absence of the boats from its glorious river. The summer has not been an ideal one, and the Parsees in London have had plenty of opportunity for a I holiday, as the cabman said, but there have been many days when a run down to Green- wich and back would have been delightful. I remember that on the last occasion when I made the trip there was a schoolmaster aboard with a number of his pupils, to whom he pointed out the various places of historic interest as the steamer went on its way. It was a splendid object lesson in past and present history that he was giving, and he for one must have regretted that the oppor- tunity has been lost during the last two years. Happily it is being restored, and with the coming of spring we shall have the whole fourteen boats in full running order between Chelsea and Greenwich. London now has its first "no-tip" hotel. This is Strand Palace, built on the ground once occupied by Exeter Hall. (I leave my readers to make what comparison they like). There are many features about the new hotel which will commend it to those who like to combine comfort with thrift. At the risk of giving a free advt. I will mention that for six shillings you can have a bedroom, the use of electric light, bath, boots, and a full table d'hote breakfast. Nothing more, nothing less, in any of the four hundred and seventy rooms of the establishment. Best of all you are not haunted by the idea that your comfort depends on the amount of your tips to the waiters. "No-tips" is the order of the Strand Palace, and this point alone should warrant its popularity. You may go there in comfort, you may stay there in comfort, and, what is more, you may leave in comfort, without feeling the small of your back shrivelling under the scornful glare of the waiter whose palm you have neglected to grease. The interior of the Guildhall has been so changed during the last few weeks that even members of the Corporation might be ex- cused if they failed to recognise it. Every visitor will remember how dark and glooinj everything ked. The walls were grimy, you peered up into the roof you saw something which might be beams, bsfc you were not sure. For weeks past the work of removing the dust and grime of centuries ¡ from the walls, columns, and panels has been going" on. Hig'h-pressure steam brushes have been employed, and a marked improvement has been effected. The bare stone has now been disclosed to view, and in some places you may see where the Great Fire of London left its mark. Some members of the Cor- poration talked of vandalism at first, but they will change their views when they see how much better the Guildhall looks under the recent improvement. E. H. R.











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