WEMBLEY : SOME SUGGESTIONS.
By EVELYN WRENCH.
MY first suggestion is that clear signs should be put up in conspicuous places along the Harrow Road so that motorists may know the correct way of going to Wembley without being obliged to stop to ask for direction. As soon as the visitor arrives outside the main entrances he is offered the official guide, which he at once buys for a shilling. It is a production hardly worthy of so great an occasion, and consists very largely of the kind of information obtainable in Whitaker's Almanack or any standard reference book. For a popular Exhibition of this kind cheap guides costing 3d. or 6d. should have been provided and their preparation entrusted to experts who would have provided a handbook containing all the information required by the ordinary visitor. On each occasion that I visited Wembley I soon discovered that I must look elsewhere for the information - I was in search of. May I suggest to the firm responsible for the guide-book that they should produce a brochure which would give six or seven alternative routes and pro- grammes for six or seven visits lasting each from three to four hours ? These should be accompanied with clear maps similar to those which the Daily Mail has been publishing, telling the bewildered visitor how to make the best use of his time.
It is hopeless to attempt to see Wembley in one or even two -visits. Clear information as to the where- abouts of the restaurants, post offices, information bureaux, &c., should be supplied. What seems to be chiefly lacking at Wembley is the human touch, and there should be more officials capable of giving all sorts of information at all important centres.
The transport facilities in the Exhibition at present leave much to be desired. No doubt these will be partially rectified when the never-stop railway gets going, but in the meantime the " Railodok " service is quite inadequate and much too expensive. It cost me two shillings to go for a journey of about a mile in one of these boneshaking vehicles, though the " Railodok " car cannot be held altogether responsible for the bone- shaking ; presumably it was due to the bad state of the roads.
A visit to the Exhibition under the very best con- ditions is a tiring experience, and most of the visitor's superfluous energy has to be expended in wandering about inside the huge Dominion Government pavilions and other buildings. As things are, the visitor has to exhaust himself in wandering many miles while getting from building to building ; it is essential that some kind of local transport be organized forthwith. Surely many more of these " Railodok " cars could be pro- vided, with their destinations clearly visible so that the visitor who had just gone through the Canadian building, let us suppose, and is anxious to visit the British Government building, should be able to do so at a reasonable price.
At present the " Railodok " cars start at the main • entrances ; the visitor who wishes to be conveyed from place to place within the Exhibition other than from the main entrances is not catered for.
A little more imagination might have been displayed in this respect and the visitor enabled to " travel imperially." Why could not the Exhibition authorities even at this late hour put into operation a service or two or three hundred rickshaws ? Zulu rickshaw boys ' from Durban, with their picturesque headgear, or boys from Ceylon would add a pleasing touch of colour, and if a reasonable fee of, say, sixpence were charged for conveyance from place to place, no doubt tens of thousands of the public would use the rickshaws. A supply of petrol-driven bathchairs capable of seating two persons, similar to those used at Palm Beach, Florida, would also help to get over the transportation problem.
One of the chief impressions left on my mind after each successive visit to Wembley was that of the great number of jaded-looking people to be seen on all sides. Surely the present charge of twopence for the use of a seat in the Exhibition grounds might be reduced to a penny on the cheap days if these were instituted.
Now to turn to the more pleasant task of giving a very brief survey of some of the exhibits. The carrying out of the original conception of the Exhibition is all that we have been led to expect, and he would have to be a sadly unimaginative man who could wander from building to building without a thrill. To the stay-at- homes the size and diversity of the British Empire are brought home in a truly wonderful way.
Of all the oversea exhibits none excels that of Nigeria and the British West African colonies, for both ingenuity and imagination have been given full scope, and as a result the exhibit is one of the most popular. Within the confines of the walled city the visitor, British weather permitting, might almost imagine himself in West Africa with the tropic sun beating down upon him. The most magnificent specimen of humanity I saw during my wan- derings was the Nigerian police sergeant with closely- shaved black head, who must have stood quite six feet six inches in his stockings.
No visitor should omit to inspect the great buildings of Canada and Australia ; while the latter gives a great feeling of light and space it has nothing quite so fine, I think, as Canada's wonderful panoramic views, some of which are also to be found in the adjoining Canadian Pacific Railway building. The entrance hall of the New Zealand exhibit is alio imagination-stirring with its wonderful series of coloured representations of 'some of the picked beauty spots of both the North and South Island ; while the Maori Whare outside only lacks some living Maoris to bring back pleasant memories of Rotorua.
The court of the Federated Malay States building with its colony of little goldfish is also attractive, as are the exhibits of rubber-tapping and of weaving by the indus- trious-looking Malays who seem -quite indifferent to the interest their work arouses among the spectators.
Quite one of the most wonderful vistas of the whole Exhibition is as you enter the Palace of Engineering and look through the huge British plate glass window—no one should miss it ; nor should a visit to the coal mine be omitted. Hong Kong's green-roofed building is very charming, and the Chinese restaurant inside most attrac- tive. Thig architecture of the South Africanbuilding is admirable and brings back memories of -Dutch stoeps in Cape Province and some of Mr. Herbert Baker's master- pieces. •' It was generous of the- South African authorities to find room for the' exhibit of little Tristan da Cunha.
In the British Government's pavilion is a gigantic map of the world set in water, with little boats busily going to and fro ; but why was the British Empire not coloured red to make it stand out ? In this pavilion is the extra- ordinarily interesting, if gruesome, exhibit of tropical diseases ; it is an exhibit which no grown-up person should miss, and it should gratify Sir Ronald Ross, who bemoans the British Public's lack of interest in medical research. From the standpoint of British-American relations one of the most interesting exhibits is the picture in little Bermuda's building (Tom Moore's house), showing the hauling-up of " Old Glory," in the presence of the British and American naval and military officers when part of the dockyard was handed over to the American authorities during the War. The diamond dredging in the West Indian pavilion is also interesting, and the screeches of the two green parrots, who seem quite at home on the roof of the native but adjoining, add a realistic touch. _ One word of praise must be paid to the organizing genius of Messrs. Lyons. In the first 'week I lunched at the Lucullus Restaurant, which was running as smoothly as if meals had been served there for years, and not hours, while many parts of the Exhibition outside were still in a state of chaos. The Lucullus is not for those who desire a cheap meal, but the epicure, who is wise enough to order his table in advance, will not be disappointed. As he eats his incite de riviere, or his asperges d'argenteuil, looking out on to the shady stone-paved courtyard, with a little imagination he could picture himself at the Pre Catalan, or at Arrnenonville.
To sum up, the Exhibition provides the most wonderful picture of the British Empire ever afforded to people of this country, and no praise can be great enough for the exhibits. My final advice is go to Wembley many times, but do not try to do too much on each visit.