By LESLIE ADRIAN Announcements from the Gray's Inn Road warned us that the 'free' colour section would not be free to regular subscribers, but only to casual customers who picked it up on the street corners. We were told that the privilege of en- joying the Sunday Times with our Sunday morn- ing coffee would cost us an extra 3d. a month. But my newsagent charges even more : he pre- fers Id. a week to even up his arithmetic.
Before I dashed off down the road to offer his nearest rival the lucrative business of trying to stuff the three top Sundays into a letter-box designed to take nothing larger than the Daily Worker, I made a personal survey of my area. Local newsagents turned out to be rather con- fused, sometimes amused and here and there a trifle resentful at this new position—like the Radio Times twice a week,' grumbled one.
For the labour of putting the coloured maga- zine into the pages of the newspaper (they arrive separately from separate printers) the newsagent is given an additional id. a copy. The delivery charge is intended in theory as a sweetener for the newsboy who has to hump the extra weight. Most paper shops round my way seem to think alike and slap on a 4d. surcharge to simplify their adding up each week. One proprietor rationalised this as a means of discouraging the Sunday Express from 'going into the colour business.' Those that are sticking to the 3d. charge appear to be under the impression that it is compulsory, although at least one is charg- ing nothing. He told me that he did not dare to make an extra charge, because too many people were already switching to the Sunday Telegraph! Another charges 5d., because, he says, he is anti-royalist. To avoid accusations of parochialism, I asked W. H. Smith their policy on this. No charge at all, at any of their shops, they told me. Thomson House, however, were not surprised to hear this. About half the newsagents in the kingdom, they assured me, are quite satisfied with the id. bonus alone. Perhaps I live in a district populated by anti-royalist newsagents. At least the ST has not gone far as the detergent makers. Unlike the toothbrushes, plastic carnations and knives forced upon us with those wares, the colour section can be taken or left alone. If you like you can tell your newsagent that you will come and fetch it. That way you can avoid the delivery charge (and even the colour supplement itself, if the mood takes you). However, the whole matter may become academic in a little while. If my count was right, last Sunday's colour pages (twenty- eight in all) contained only two and a quarter pages of advertisements.
qtr We sat in the sun the other day and the waiter brought us coffee. 'The season must be starting,' he said. 'You're the first to ask for coffee outside this year.' We had chanced our arm and tried taking a four-day break in Corn- wall in February. In terms of value for money alone I can strongly recommend it.
Driving from London on Monday morning was easy once we had got clear of London itself. In Somerset, Devon and Cornwall the traffic was mostly commercial travellers and some lorries and trucks, but we often went three or four miles on main roads without passing anyone and, if I didn't change down soon enough on a hairpin bend on a one-in-five hill, there was no fear that I would cause a dozen others immediately behind to do the same. Driving across Dartmoor we saw more prisoners and ponies than cars.
Fowey harbour was empty of sailing hearties and the ferry crossed with only our car on board. It might have taken too long to wait for another to arrive and fill the empty space. In Polperro and Portloe the local colour—`Duck or gtouse' over a low door instead of 'Mind your head' and 'Mind the step behind'ee, m'deers' in a shop window facing on to a very narrow pavement—didn't look quite as awful as it does in summer. The palm trees at St. Just in Roseland looked even more impressive in February than they do in July. Retired admirals tended their already shipshape gardens, the council worked on 'toad repairs without causing traffic jams and seagulls fattened on newly ploughed fields. At Carlyon Bay we played `People Love Player's' on an absolutely deserted beach by a brilliant cobalt sea.
I admit we were lucky with the weather, but a week of only reasonable weather in these conditions at this time of the year would be worth two or three weeks of overcrowding in summer. We had no difficulty in finding accom- modation anywhere.