17 OCTOBER 1941, Page 14

Hogarth Hoppers This year hops were rather light in weight;

bnt never in the whole curious history of hop-picking was picking done so fast. Pickers even grumbled that there were more pickers than hops. Wherever you went there was the same answer : " Gone hopping " Mrs. Soandso could no longer do the cleaning; Mr. Soandso could not longer mow the lawn; the young Soandso's were no longer in mischief. At the greengrocer's there was no trade—" All the customers," said the assis- tant, " have gone hopping." At a teashop there was a notice in the window ; " Closed for the hop-season." But the most amazing sight, as always, was the country pub on Saturday night. There are pubs which bar hop-pickers. But anyone who wishes to see the English inn at its strangest—hot, uncomfortable, crowded as a cup- final—might do worse than choose a Kentish pub that admits the Saturday night hop-pickers' free-for-all. Everybody is there from dusty old dears out of Belcher drawings down to high-heeled, high- lipsticked girls and little children. The dimmed lights of the black- out take away the gaiety of pre-war days. Instead you get the impres- sion of a twentieth-century Hogarth. now the sound-effects are added. The siren wails over the black countryside ; ack-ack thumps up in the far distance ; a Canadian soldier begins to sing a

- song with seventy-two verses; the Home Guard clank awkwardly in and out for a spell of duty ; and a beery voice from the Mile End Road tells under the glow of oil-lamps the old, old story of a bomb.