Foreign News: Yalu Hullabaloo

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The House crumpled with laughter, save for the member for Ebbw Vale (Aneurin Bevan) and his Bevanites. A succession of them stood up to get in their licks, among them vitriolic, red-haired Barbara Castle. "Is this the moment," she demanded, "when we should threaten the peace of the world by sending 500 planes to bomb plants which had not been bombed before? . . . We used to think of [Churchill] as a bulldog sitting on the Union Jack. He has become a lapdog sitting on the Stars and Stripes of America." Tory Ian Harvey snapped back: "We know upon what flag the honorable lady is sitting, and she is no dog."

For six hours the debate went on—but none of it changed any votes. In the end, by a vote of 300 to 270, the House upheld Winston Churchill and, in passing, the U.S. raid.

London's Last Tram

Londoners, ever distrustful of American innovations, never really took to the clanking contraption introduced to their city in 1861 by an American appropriately named George Francis Train. The raised tracks along which Train's first horsecars rode cluttered their streets abominably, and made coach-driving virtually impossible in Bayswater Road, Victoria Street and Kennington Road. Even when Train learned to set his tracks flush with the streets and to drive the cars with steam, the prejudice lingered. Tram whistles were constantly frightening horses, and their drivers were frequently in court for creating smoke at unauthorized places. Trams were never permitted in the wide streets of the West End or the narrowly winding alleys of the City.

Nevertheless, Train's trams (electrified in the early years of the 20th century) became an integral part of the growth of Greater London, their tracks sprawling in time through the cobweb of streets to carry some four billion passengers a year. Like it or not, the Londoner of pre-World War I grew to feel that the tramcar was in his city to stay and, with characteristic British adaptability, he even grew a bit fond of the noisy thing. Then, in the '20s, like a black cloud of doom on the horizon came the motorbus.

One day last week, as a fierce hot wind swept the city, London's last regularly scheduled tram made its way along the Old Kent Road to New Cross Depot. Old passengers, some in nostalgic fancy dress, lined the route to bid the old red double-decker farewell with chalked signs, "We Want Trams." Pennies were placed in the tracks to be flattened as souvenirs. Others crowded aboard for a last ride. "They are all mad," screamed the conductress at Motorman William Fitzpatrick. "They have taken the light bulbs; they are ripping up the seats. Why don't you stop when I ring the bell?" But the bell had been stolen as a keepsake. On ran the tram, heady and glorious. It was clanking along at 40 m.p.h. when a motorcycle cop threatened a summons. "We were driving 50 easy," boasted the driver.

When at last the tram reached New Cross, every one of its windows was shattered, every loose object was gone. It didn't matter. The whole thing was soon to be burned, its metal sold for scrap. A transport inspector pocketed the driver's rear-view mirror. Motorman Fitzpatrick sighed. "I'll have to be getting home," he said. "Tomorrow at 9 I'm driving a bus."

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