An Interesting Experience. The S.P.G.B. Brigade

I entered the short, dark passage writes “The Inquisitive Visitor” in the “Ilford Guardian”, and alter bending slightly to the right it brought me to a door. Giving quite a whisper “rap,” the door was opened immediately, and I faced a well-lighted room and a group of half-a-dozen tell-tale soft “Trilby” hats. The hats were eloquent indications of the thinking material they held, and were worn with a freedom of poise that only belongs to Bohemia, and the atmosphere of this particular Club.

Having so far broken the ice, so to speak, I realised that I was in the company of a jolly lot of boys—to use a free-and-easy phrase that sufficiently illustrates their attitude. The one who was sprawling full length on a table, with his elbows planted down to form a prop for his chin, threw of his soft brown hat as the long thin journalist, with one foot on another table and the other leg curled somewhere round his chair, cried “Chapeau bas !” They doffed their hats, and shook hands; thus, with a friendly instinct which ran as warm as the comfortable atmosphere of the room, I was introduced.

“Welcome to our lecture hall, and let the light of your knowledge grow,” said he of the dark curly hair.

“Riddles worry me,” I said, ”and where is your lecture hall ?”

He slid off the table and quoted Dan Leno, who had a handsome suite of one room, and simply turned round in his kitchen to find himself in his parlour !

Slow they talked and laughed: How they chased the wit from tongue to tongue, and played upon each other’s idiosyncrasies with epigrammatic snaps of fully-licensed good fellowship ! Socialists probably, and no doubt all admirers of G. Bernard Shaw, as well.

In the name of Murger, Marat, and men, who are you ?” I asked.

“We are the S.P. G.B.,” said one, with the twinkling merriment of mystery.

“It sounds very much like the Society lor the Propagation of the Gospel,” I said, trying to be pleasant.

“So it is—the Gospel of Freedom, the great war of the world ! ”

“Drop the parish pump, please, and don’t think that copybook maxims will save time. What is your Gospel ? ”

“It would weary you to tell. Imagine a pure society in whieh every man may have his due, and then fix up the general outline of our efforts to secure it,” he replied.

I settled down to enjoy the company of these young fellows, and wondered how long I should have to sustain it before it would bore me. For the nonce it was delightful, bright and gentlemanly, of courtesy mixed with the freedom that generally comes with long acquaintance.

I joined in a hand at whist and all the cards came my way. My partner was a gentleman who has been heard to address a Broadway crowd, and with two games we won the rubber. At another table, two gentlemen were playing chess, one or two others came and looked on, a quiet feeling of good-fellowship reigning.

Then I pursued my inquisitive investigations. The “S.P.G.B.” Club was open to members of The Socialist Party of Great Britain residing in the Romford division as you will have guessed bv now. There are discussion classes on alternate Tuesdays, to which the public are invited, and every Monday there is—an Esperanto class.”

“Willo youo tello meo oughto ofo thiso classo? ” 1 asked.

The gentleman who conducts it made answer in a tongue which my pencil refused to respond to.

So we sat on and chatted on many subjects—”Ships and shops and sealing wax, and cabbages and Kings,” like the Walrus–until the relentless hands of the clock demanded that a pleasant evening should close with a hearty “Good-night”

I had almost forgotten to say that the Club is situated in York Road, Ilford.

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