16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 6

A SPECTATOR'S NOTEBOOK A SORT of epidemic of humbug seems to

have broken out. Officials in London and Washington emphasise that any connection between this week-end's conference of Foreign Ministers and the developments in Trieste is purely coincidental; " it was always," as The Times diplomatic corres- pondent puts it, " to be expected that the three Ministerg would meet about this time." Other officials, after stoutly asserting that the Royal Welch Fusiliers were not going to British Guiana but had merely been embarked on a cruiser to carry out landing exercises (how do you carry out landing exercises from a cruiser ? ), are now asserting, equally stoutly, that their arrival saved a volcanic situation in the nick of time. The Ministry of Agriculture is pretending like mad that it has not behaved disgracefully at Crichel Down. Mr. Randolph Churchill is masquerading as St. George and a number of newspaper proprietors, in more negative but even flimsier impostures, are refusing to be identified with the Dragon. It is widely believed that you can fool all the people some of the time; why it should have occurred simultaneously to so many that now is the time when you can I do not know.