6 MARCH 1964, Page 29

Consuming Interest

Off the Coal Standard?


While there are a variety of motives for this reluctance to opt for clean air, undoubtedly the main one is uncertainty about the fuel situation. The prospect of shortage is so acute in some districts that local councils are actually contem- plating suspending existing smoke control orders —a situation hardly likely to encourage the more laggardly local councils to sign the clean air Pledge.

As it is officially estimated that by 1970 the demand for open-grate fuel will exceed supply by 33 per cent, we have got to face the fact that Britain's passion for open fires is no longer com- patible with her clean air aspirations. There is never going to be enough clean foel to go round, and not even the prospect of half a million tons of Bronowski Briquettes, for which we have been Waiting ten years, will keep the home fires burn- ing. (In performance 'Homefire.' as the Coal Board have styled it, is all one could wish for. ll's convenient to handle, quick to ignite and hot as it burns. But even if supplies were unlimited, at 5s. for a 28 lb. bag it is going to destroy the myth that it's cheaper to be warm with coal.) In effect, last December's White Paper acknow- ledged the fact that if the beastliness of smoke Pollution is ever to be done away with in this country, we shall have to come off the coal stan- dard. Hitherto we have been buying clean air on the cheap—that is, by tarting up our old- fashioned grates to burn the clean neW-fashioned Coal. An economic openable grate has not, in the Past, ranked fx local authority grant—let alone conversion to anything so madly modern as gas or electricity.

Now, at last, the Minister of Housing (who

bsh.ares with the Minister of Power the responsi- , !lity for overseeing the Clean Air Act) has taken IS courage in both hands and stopped paying even-tenths or the cost of converting dirty coal- - grates to clean coal-burning ditto and tl.ggested to local authorities that they should .81ve conversion grants instead for all manner of Iv.a,Y-out devices such as openable stoves, gas or °II heaters or 'electric storage heaters. (Very

reasonably, grants are not payable for ordinary electric tires as peak-hour electricity is almost as precious as smokeless coal.) All of which should unshackle the clean air programme from its present dependence on scarce smokeless fuels. What's more, it will make the winter Prospects of those living in the old- fashioned coal-burning smokeless zones more like the 'cosy' image projected by the Coal Utilisation Board.

Space-is a luxury these days and few of us can afford to clutter our rooms with separate side- boards, bookcases, desks, cupboards, chests and wardrobes. Instead we are looking for basic stor- age—what the word-mongers call 'unit furniture' --rather than flimsy room-dividers garnished with pot plants and decorative clumps of books.

In this basic category, the stoutest and cheapest that.] have ever come across is Remploy's Lundia (write to them at 415 Edgware Road, NW2). It's strong, and easy for the most ham-fisted amateur to assemble.

Intended for commercial use, it is made in a wide range of sizes in white wood (knots and all) and looks superb crammed with books and bric-k-brac. In white wood, two bays cost only £13; a hard wood version with solid sides and built-in cupboards about £33. Both are delivered free to your door, ready to assemble, about three to four weeks after ordering.

For versatility and sheer good looks-, some of

the best shelving comes (are you surprised?) from Denmark. Known as System Cado (and sold by Heal's) it is more expensive but also more sophisticated than Remploy's Lundia. Wall- panels in teak or pine are screwed to the wall and cupboards and shelves are merely pegged in.

Equally flexible is the Swedish Pira system (imported by Swedia, 146 West End Lane, NW6). The 'supports are of painted metal and are slotted to hold anything from a magazine rack to a drop-flap bar.

The full range of Conran's magnificent contri- bution to twentieth-century living can be seen at 5 Hanway Place, WI, or at Smithy Lane, Man- chester. Their. Summit brand, which includes drawer, shelf and cabinet units, looks as happy in the • centre of the room as it does propping al: the wall. New this year is the Super Summa which looks more elegant, but is somewhat more restricted in scope than the old workadaySurma. Finally, anyone engaged on a Which? hunt of unit shelving should not neglect Archie Shine's handsome designs which come in various woods and constructions and can be seen at 30 Sloane street. I would have fallen for his fall-front bureau had the drawers not been so absurdly small.

On cost it is hard to make comparisons be- cause everyone works to a different measurement. A rough estimate, based on two bays that include three comfortable drawers (or their equivalent) six cubic feet of storage and a 12-foot run of shelving, together with all the appropriate fittings, works out. at approximately: Cado £76; Summa .f..62; Super Summa £67; Pira £75; and Shine £71. All the prices are for pine, except for Cado which is available only in teak and rosewood— which, judged strictly as value for money, makes Cado the very best buy after Remploy.

A fifth sense for public relations—instead of the usual sixth. A letter received last week from Annecy carried an attractive stamp. Peeled off for a favourite nephew an odour of aniseed arose. Surely an association of ideas—France, anisette. Not at all, an independent opinion con- firmed that the gum on the stamp was indeed impregnated with aniseed. Some pun.