12 SEPTEMBER 1963, Page 25

Consuming Interest

Indoor Exposures


SUN WORSHIP, in the form of the well-tagged sunbathing

craze, began a new lease of life in Britain in the 1920s. Sun-tan oil was first sold in 1929. Bathing costumes, as they were called before the Americans abbreviated the

word to swimsuits, became progressively smaller, until in the atomic age they shrank to bikini size or, for Riviera he-men, le minimum.

And the belief that a tanned skin is somehow connected with good health persists, to the extent that many people buy themselves a 'sun lamp,' so that they can go on being bronzed and fit in our northern latitudes after the sun has gone back to the Tropic of Capricorn (with apologies to Henry Miller, of course).

Even doctors used to believe that ultra-violet rays were good for general health, and in the vitamin era in the Thirties this was reinforced by the revelation that Vitamin D is produced by the action of UV rays on chemicals in the skin.

The grain of truth seems to be that UV treatment is good for local skin disorders. Acne sufferers have found that sunlight is a cure for their rash, if they avoid the period from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

when the infra-red element in sunshine is most active and causes soreness and reddening. It does not follow, I am assured by medical men, that indiscriminate use of ultra-violet lamps must be good for the health. This is why so many makes are obtainable only on a doctor's prescription. But it does not explain why some are not. Nor does it justify some of the claims made in their literature by manufacturers — 'glowing

health all the year round,' the answer to sun starvation,' improves your health with Alpine sunshine.' Philips even describe their wares as 'New Health Lamps.'

After a summer like this one it is tempting to fix yourself up with a tan, either out of a bottle

or by giving yourself a three-minute treatment every day at home. But a lot of doctors will tell you that you don't need this treatment or, if you do, will suggest that you attend a clinic for it. If you still want to get a lamp anyway, the Hanovia

Bahama (note the evocative name) at £16 16s. can be bought without a prescription. The brochure says, 'Medical authorities have stated that expos- ing the human body to the proper kind of ultra- violet energy is "an excellent vitalising measure."' If you buy a non-prescription lamp you will have to pay purchase tax. The other lamps, mostly more powerful, are intended for hospital or professional use and carry no tax, but are mostly more expensive. Individual purchase on prescription is supposed to be a logical extension

of the professional use, because the user is under doctor's orders. When Which? surveyed a large selection of lamps of all kinds in January, 1960, they chose the Philips Ultraphil (now £7 15s.) as their best buy. It needs a medical certificate, as all Philips lamps do.

As a general rule, the most effective lamps are those that work on mercury-vapour-filled light sources, not the carbon-arc type. But the range of makes seems to have shrunk since the Which? trials. In any case, some of the large chemists, Boots for instance, refuse to stock lamps not covered by the prescription rule. I did find one, however, at Timothy White's, the Pifco 1025 (f.6 Gs.), which tans all right, but, I was told, 'does not penetrate.' Pifco emphasised for me the ridiculous anomaly of the prescription/purchase tax rule. They make two lamps that are virtually identical in their working parts, but the Customs and Excise insist that there must be discernible differences between the one that is taxed and the one that is not—so Pifco have given the lamp sold at £5 7s. 6d. on prescription a wavy-edged reflector and pack it in a bright red carton, to distinguish it from the prescription-free ' lamp which retails at £6 Os. 6d. (including purchase tax), which has a plain reflector and black carton. On this subtle point the Ministry of Health was grumpily un- helpful. Because you cannot get UV lamps through the National Health Service, even on prescription, 'it is nothing to do with us.' Sur- prise, surprise—especially since the Customs men assured me that it was the M of H and them- selves who worked out this crazy arrangement.

Well, maybe you can get more Vitamin D from a daily pinta or even a pill or two, but tan is good for the morale (so long as you don't turn up at the office on February Monday mornings looking like Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen). And even if you can get a golden dye in the epidermis by rubbing in Man-Tan or whatever, the sun lamp seems more 'natural.' If you do favour the thought, ask a doctor first, and if you don't get free goggles with the make you choose get a three- bob pair of `gogglets' from Boots. They won't leave you with those giant panda rings around the eyes.

In the drink • trade to follow fashion can be profitable, to create a fashion can be either lucra- tive or lonely. Pimms, for example, have had a strong following for years, in spite of their cost,

but at one stage F.S. Matta, the firm that imports Campari, looked like having to drink all its own stock. Now every, or nearly every barman, knows what Americano means, and mixes a little of the expensive bitter concoction with sweet vermouth and soda. Will it last, or will it join the great army of unremembered mixtures we call cocktails and which no one under fifty would dare inquire after? Their names reek of the immediate post- prohibition era when ever (/thing was chucked into the shaker to make palatable the poor- quality rye whiskey or gin that most American drinkers had to suffer—Nose Dive, Will Rogers, Third Degree, Bunny Hug, Sez You and about two thousand others.

These days a lot of us like our whisky (with or without an'e') a little straighter than it comes in an Old Fashioned. In short we like to taste it. Now, apparently, it is fashionable. to like it `lighter' too. I raised a faint cheer for Mr. Ronald Cummings, the newish chairman of the Distillers Company, when he was quoted the other day as saying, '1 don't know what a light whisky is.' What

is all the fuss about J. and B. Rare and Cutty Sark? Odd perhaps that both have been fathered by wine houses, Justerini and Brooks and Berry Brothers and Rudd; odder still that the whisky boys, who know, all there is to know about blending, haven't done it themselves till now.

What, in fact, does 'light' mean in this connec- tion? Nothing to do with colour; you can make whisky any colour you like—it's all colourless when it comes out of the spirit still anyway. There- fore it must mean the character, and this is deter mined by the ratio of heavier malt whiskies to fiery, cheaper grain whiskies in the blend. All the popular blends are 'light' in this sense. Apparently the Americans, with their palates adjusted to the flavour of rye, go for Scotch with a higher pro- portion of grain spirit. But, alas, the smaller proportion of malt is not going to make them any cheaper.


See you in two weeks—I'm off to get some real tan.