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Sunday, 24 October 2010

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

London used to be called “The Smoke” for very good reasons. In that time the air was usually polluted and dirty. There were times, too often, when it was filthy and all pervading. Almost all the old smoke is long gone but the air is now as bad.

You will know the reasons for that. What is different is that the old smoke and dirt could be washed out and with care clothes restored to cleanliness and without the staleness nastiness of the time.

As for the locomotive in the picture, I knew it well and its class. They were almost part of my upbringing, the old Midland Compounds this one coming out of St. Pancras Station.

We have been up and down to London on a run of events for one reason or another. However we now have to maintain a complete changed of clothing for such visits. On our return they have to be bagged and then washed and keep totally apart from any other clothing.

The reason is the nature of the chemical pollution, notably “fragrances”. We do not use any products with them, personal or household. The contamination is derived entirely from other surfaces they might come into contact with, for example seating, or from the air around.

The stink on them cannot be washed out fully. As we go on using them, despite the washing in non fragranced organic products, it seems to increase visit on visit. Then we have to dump perfectly wearable clothing because it has become so bad.

When we complain about this, we are told airily to “avoid” the problem. We might be able to in a complete vacuum, but there are slight technical problems with that. The only other way would be to stagger about in the full array of protective clothing and face masks with high power filtration systems.

There is a worse and even more worrying effect. It is that if the visits made are close to each other then the progressive effect of the reactions on health worsens.

The nastiest, undoubtedly, is the creeping fatigue that is progressive. After our recent run of visits it has taken days of rigorous control to come round to any sort of normality. Paradoxically, the exercise we take to assist this is more demanding physically than the business of the visits we make.

So the fatigue does not arise from increased activity, mental or physical.

Just how many people, I wonder, are being worse and worse affected in this day without being able to identify or to understand what is happening to them.

It is all too likely that some time soon if the wrong conditions arise there will be a widespread health set of issues which nobody in authority will be prepared to recognise or address.

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