By MONICA REDLICH
rIIRISTMAS is 'coming. Nobody knows quite when it began to come, but T myself should fix the date as December 26th last year, or possibly earlier. All this: time, for the past eleven, or twelve; or fifteen months, altruistic people have been labouring from nine till six with only one end' in view—to give the public what it wants, or rather to tell the public what it wants to give somebody else. The result of their labours is now, to put it mildly, apparent. We are to Pop In to this shop, we. are to Get:It at that shop; we are to Give Hera gramo4 phone, a telephone, some stockings, some •soap; mufflersi moccasins, a cruise to the Sunny South. We are to give this to Father, that to Mother, we are to give everybody Cigarettes, we "mutt GiVe Books, we must shell) early, we must think, we Must hurry; we must remember that there are only nine and, a half Clear shopping days till Christriia.S. Assailed' on all sides by the imperative Mood, we spin bemusedly round from shop-window to hoarding, and probably get run over.
Yet it's wonderful, when you come to think of it, as people still say about the wireless. In every building in London the unselfish labour goes on. Copy-writers; buyers, embroiderers, knitters, inventors, confectioners, Cracker-makers, button-makers, French polishers, bill- posters, have been working in season and out of season to help the irresponsible public to know what it wants. Out of season especially. Many large London shops are just nicely ready for .Christmas when the first heat-wave breaks on them in early June. Spring comes unnoticed while .assiduous artists paint next year's snow-storms on Christmas cards, and experienced writers make new Christ• mas stories out of old, old material. As soon as they recovered from their last year's Christmas celebrations, publisher's . hurried' out to give expensive luncheons to selected victims, and murmured at the proper moment " What 'about a funny book for Christmas, old boy ? " And, of course, as September draws on and Christmas becomes really imminent, the activity beggars all descrip- tion. Lay-out men, have nervous breakdowns • over the kind of type to be used for Give Collars for Christmas.? Printers' devils run blue-nosed through the autumn streets with urgent advertisement-proofs beneath their arms. Billposters get tennis elbow, and the fairies in the pantomime begin to catch colds.
Nothing is left undone. Wherever the public is likely to go, in tubes and 'buses, in streets and shops, its duty to its neighbour is sternly set forth. Every sheet of reading matter that comes in through the letter-box tells it to go out at once and. buy something. Give Him Goloshes.
Take a tin home with you. Bring the kiddies in here. Give them this. Give them that. Do anything on' earth that means spending all your money, and peace and goodwill shall follow.
Only one thing seems to have been mislaid in this universal enterprise, and that is the public itself. • A million .advertisers are telling it what to do. Un- numbered masses more await it behind their counters, and vast ranks of .'bus,• train, and taxi-drivers are eager to drive it to the scat of custom. Then there are the actors, the crooners, and all the merry' retinue 'of the B.B.C.: the doctors and lawyers: the miners, the waiters, the thousand and one different kinds of people who prepare Christmas or clear it up afterwards. 'All (very rightly) would object to being stigmatised as members' of the public. Little enough of the population remains, and of that remainder ninety-nine per cent. writes books.
If thN should by any chance come to the eye of the public, I should be grateful if he would let nib have his name and address,