Friday, 28 February 2014

Arthur Clears The Air

We all take smokeless fuel for granted now but, when it was introduced in the late fifties, it was like the launch of the i-phone 5 or something.

In 1952, approximately 12,000 Londoners had died as a result of ‘The Great Smog’, a pollution pea souper that brought the capitol to a standstill. The Clean Air Act of 1956 followed, decreeing a vast number of ‘smoke control’ areas, where it was illegal to burn coal. Conversion grants were made available to those who wished to install gas or electric heating, and a mind numbing variety of exotically named ‘clean’ fuels were marketed to a largely confused public.

‘Arthur Clears The Air’ is a short film which attempts to make it all a bit clearer but, as this is the last hurrah of the ‘I say, old chap’ era, does so in a completely incomprehensible way, with housewives dreaming of teddy bears coming to life, eerie energy themed masked balls and anamorphic representations of fuel (the personification of Welsh Nuts is a missed opportunity, by the way). The names of the fuels are so perfectly 1961 that you simply couldn’t make them up: Phurnacite, Seabrite, Gloco, Cleanglo...

It’s a sweet little film, but I was none the wiser at the end of it. Mind you, I don’t really ever burn coal, only tyres.

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