Virginia Barton

10 April 2015: Taken for granted

10 April 2015


It’s “Careful How You Breathe Day,” so I’ll keep this short.

Apparently air pollution in Oxford is high enough today to issue a warning. Some of us knew this yesterday, when our eyes were painful and our throats collectively rasping.

“Stay indoors” was the advice. Fine if you have absolutely nothing to do.


Not long ago, The Guardian newspaper reported that wandering about in parts of London, Oxford and Bath was akin to smoking three packets of cigarettes a day. Golly! Even when I was a dedicated puffer I never managed THREE packets.

FogWe do take fresh air for granted. I wonder what they said about air pollution in Rome in the early ‘Nineties? Being breathless in Rome due to excess art, religion or food is one thing; but being breathless thanks to poor air quality quite another.


Then again, what about London in the ‘Fifties? I remember coming home from school in a bus guided by a man walking in front with a flare, so thick was the “pea-souper.”


One day the combustion engine will be replaced by solar energy, as the horseless carriage replaced the hackney and the phaeton. Until that happy day we must periodically stay indoors.

With a bit of luck it will rain before too long…



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