Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Frying Squad. (Mr Smith Goes To)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

The Frying Squad. (Mr Smith Goes To)

Article excerpt

No one fries a fine fish in South Wales better than Barrie Rees (prop: "Barrie's Plaice".) His succulent cod and chips emerge driplessly from the golden bowl of Barrie's vat. The trick is to use the finest vegetable oil, he says. In a story which invites comparison with Compton Mackenzie's Whisky Galore, some of Barrie's neighbours have discovered that this versatile condiment. not only puts a glow in your belly but a tiger in your tank, too.

Mixed with a dash of meths, cooking oil apparently burns in the engines of diesel cars and trucks. And it's 40 pence a litre cheaper than the stuff you get at the pumps. One supermarket chain, Asda, has discovered that its sales of household oils have doubled locally.

In the small seaside town of Burry Port, several motorists have each been fined [pounds sterling]500 after being pulled over by police officers inevitably known as the Frying Squad. Going by the accounts I heard from blameless drivers, the patrolmen behave like finicky buyers for foodstores rather than law-enforcement operatives. They sniff the air over a suspect exhaust pipe: if they get sunflowers, if they get olives, then the car gets towed.

As these stories suggest, the worst that can be said about the environmental impact of low-fat lubricant is that it makes your runabout smell like a chippie. A small price to pay, you might think, for what looks on the face of it like the holy grail of energy policy: a resource that really does grow on trees. …

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