RADIOLYMPIA A Glorified Shop-Window
By WILFRID ROOKE LEY
Radiolympia is a trade show, and is probably more interesting to the man who sells sets than to the man who buys them. Young people, however, seem to find it alluring; the afternoon I was there it seemed as if half the youth of the country was up for the show. There was an air of happy truantry about them, and I wondered if the office-staffs to which they seemed to belong have been decimated all this week, and if the rate of mortality among grandmothers has been exceptionglly high. But perhaps they make other excuses nowadays.
Biggest and Best
There seems to be a general agreement that it is the biggest and best of the shows so far. Of course when one reflects that ten or twelve years ago we were still fiddling about with cat's whiskers, the tremendous display of apparatus is impressive. But having registered that emotion, a certain flatness falls upon the scene. After all, the number of firms who make receiving sets can be counted on one's fingers. Radiolympia is no place to test their wares. Sets obviously differ in size and price and capacity.
But if you want to go into the capacity of one set as against another, you must do it elsewhere. They differ also in degree of ugliness. Why are radio sets so ugly?
The conglomeration of so many thousands of them gave one the impression of nightmare.
For the rest, you can see a number of your favourite radio-stars, whether actually broadcasting, as in the Children's Hour, or performing in the enormous theatre they have built, in a series of excellent entertainments organised by the Exhibition itself. •
And there is television. The queues for that were endless, It will be some thing they can tell their grandchildren about : how they stood in a queue for hours at Olympia to see the first pictures ever publicly televised. Television is still an affair for the rich, who can afford expensive toys, and for the technicallyminded, who like dabbling in the march of science. You could go and buy a television sets for as little as £94. I wondered how long it will be before that set is a curiosity, like the old crystal-set, or the first motor-car, or the Rocket steamengine. Perhaps in a few years it will be on view, as the first " dramatic control panel" used at Savoy Hill is on view this year: something to be amused at.
Th.: B.B.C. has a stall, where certain of the secrets of Broadcasting House are photographically illustrated. Scotland Yard has a stall, to familiarise the public with the use of radio in tracking the criminal.
And the Post Office has a stall so that we may learn how to cope with inter
ference-difficuhies. It seems that the Post Office will do anything for you. You have only to tell them your trouble and their sleuths will trace it to its source — the electric-iron next door, the trolley-cars across the way, or the electric refrigerator at the butcher's.
That's all very well; but it is one thing to trace the trouble and another thing altogether to stop it.. Even the Post Oflice can only use persuasion. What is needed is a little courageous legislation. If its stall at Olympia showed anything it was that an army of men are being wasted on work which ought to be quite unnecessary. If only Parliament would hurry up!
I have managed to refrain so far from calling Radiolympia a dull entertainment, but, if I am frank, I must confess to boredom. It is a glorified show-window; and it depends on your attitude to shop-windows whether you are amused or not.
Perhaps I had already made up my mind as to the best set in the market — its makers, significantly enough, were not showing—but if T had been in any doubt, Olympia was no place for resolving it. Perhaps the strains of "The M,erry Widow" waltz brayed from a myriad of loudspeakers got on my nerves—luckily they all brayed the same tune, or it would have been pandemonium—or perhaps I had not lost my grandmother and got leave to at tend her funeral. • In a word, perhaps Radiolympia is for the verx young.
WILFRID ROOKE LEY.