11 AUGUST 1961, Page 14

Sm,—On July 10 I travelled to Penzance on the Cornish

Riviera Expre.ss and took lunch in the dining car.

There was a large brown stain on the tablecloth and In a small vase a carnation drooped from a broken stalk. The window-ledge looked as if it hadn't been wiped for a long time and the metal struts supporting the table were in the same condi- tion. The putty-coloured leather seats were scratched with black marks.

The waiters' crumpled linen jackets looked as if they'd never been ironed; their grotesquely ill- fitting trousers had old grease stains.

An American couple at my table asked what mineral waters were available and were told :' 'We've got some Paddington Canal Water'; they finally asked for a bottle of Vichy water which never arrived. I had to ask twice for some ,beer which only came when I had nearly finished my joint. There was no drinking water on the table, and bread was not served until after the soup.

Bottled salad cream and custard powder sauce were the inevitable accompaniment to this depres- sing meal.


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