SIR,-Apropos of Gracie Fields's article, readers might be interested in the following :
Last September my husband and I had an evening meal at one of the largest cafe-restaurants in the main shopping street of Antwerp. The music was provided by a mixed quartette, the youngest member of which was a girl of about 21 who sang and played the accordion. The repertoire consisted of the usual popular dance tunes and songs, but as our meal progressed we noticed that the place was filling up rapidly. At a given moment it was announced that the girl would sing Gounod's "Ave Maria" and accompany herself on the accordion.
The atmosphere changed cornpletely. The waiters took no more orders, our next course was placed on a spirit lamp and latecomers crept in like mice, while all general conversation ceased. The audience sat listening with wrapt attention, but at the end there was none of the rapturous applause which had greeted previous turns; just a pause. After a suitable interval the ordinary programme was resumed.
We got the impression that the "Ave Maria" was a special week-end feature (we were there on a Saturday night) which the public came especially to hear.
It was a curious and interesting experience, enhanced by the fact that none of the quartette conformed to the popular idea of a professional entertainer, for glamour was at a minimum.
(Mn.) C. C. Baines
Yew Tree House, Bladbean,*
Elham, Nr. Canterbury.