British Public Information Film: Fatal Floor (1974)

Apparently, this rather comical public information film reduced slippery rug accidents by 50% in 1974. Was this a big problem in the 1970s? I always thought you had to be quite well-off to have a polished floor in your interior. After a bit of research, the eye-catching statistic is this, in 2004 (a bit dated but nevertheless) The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reported that the number of casualties involving accidents on polished floorboards and parquet floors had risen by staggering 400%! From 2,900 in 1998 to 12,300 in 2003.

A 21st century remake had been suggested though I haven’t come across any. I did wonder if a remake would bear all the comical narrative hallmarks that made the 1970s film so memorable.  For example, easy listening background music, a Dr Who (Patrick Troughton?) narrator, a disobedient, terrifying object such as the man trap, a catchy ending line “and to think he’d only just come from the hospital” and the dramatic frozen ending still. It would be interesting to see how a contemporary public information film tackling this issue could be devised. Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) would obviously play the victim falling while playing a Google plus game and listening to One Direction on his tablet. Very cliché in terms of a suggested narrative but just a thought.

The Ome Shack

This weekend I stayed with my in-laws (or ‘The Out-laws’ as I sometimes cheekily refer to them!) in Ome. Ome (Translation: Japanese apricot) is in the Kanto region of Japan; a beautiful, scenic area about an hour away by express train from central Tokyo. Unfortunately, my father-in-law hasn’t been very well in recent years so every now and again, when my mother-in-law needs assistance, I go up and help out.

Their bungalow is deep in the Ome countryside. A 25 minute walk or a 5 minute bus ride from Ome train station. Depending on weather conditions, I usually opt for the walk. It’s a pleasurable stroll through the old town, snapping ancient shop fronts and stunning decaying structures along the way then across the bridge and into the Hatanaka area. Whenever I’m in this part of the world, it’s a welcome relief to get away from Tokyo’s overbearing concreted metropolis and find myself engulfed in the natural surroundings.

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Their bungalow was built in the mid-60s and it still retains a lot of its original features though in a serious state of decay now. I’ve always been fascinated by the higgledy-piggledy interiors. Dated British sitcoms spring to mind; Steptoe & Son and Only Fools and Horses. In photographic terms, to some degree, I can see characteristics of Richard Billingham’s photobook, Ray’s a Laugh. Due to my mother-in-law’s reluctance to throw things away, the bungalow has become a cross between a bric-a-brac shop and a history museum.

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Each room is filled with objet d’ art and lost ephemera can be found everywhere. National and local newspapers stacked up high in the corners of each room. Collections of Badminton journals, books on botany, wildlife, cookery, judo etc dating back from the 70s and 80s.

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My mother-in-law’s shodo (Japanese calligraphy) proudly decorates some of the walls in the living room. The crème coloured washi paper now orangey brown. The sliding doors that no longer slide, nicotine stained walls, cat claw marks, crumpled boxes of vegetables, trays of dried fruits and chili peppers drying out, broken draws, cassettes, telephones, fax machines, empty boxes, greasy surfaces,  hole-ridden curtains, dead plants, turtles, the list is endless. Such a colourful visual spectacle!