Nottingham element: Alan Sillitoe
Nottingham born and bred writer Alan Sillitoe (4 March 1928 – 25 April 2010) was one of the so-called ‘angry young men’ of the 1950s.
Like hell-raiser Arthur Seaton, the anti-hero from his debut and most well-known novel, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, Silitoe’s father worked for another Nottingham legend, the Raleigh Bicycle Company. Young Alan followed his dad into the company after leaving school at the age of 14, later joining the RAF where he served as a wireless operator in Malaya.
On return to Britain, he discovered he had tuberculosis and spent 16 months in an RAF hospital. Pensioned off at the age of 21, he lived in France and Spain for seven years. In 1955 while living in Mallorca with the American poet Ruth Fainlight – who later became his wife – he began working on Saturday Night Sunday Morning, tackling the disillusionment of post-war Britain and the lack of opportunities for the working class. It was published in 1958, starting a literary career that spanned five decades.
In 1994, The University of Nottingham awarded him an honorary D.Litt and he was made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Nottingham at a special ceremony in June of 2008.
Scientific element: Arsenic
Arsenic is a metallic element found in nature at low levels.
It is a greyish metallic solid that turns black upon exposure to air and is insoluble in water.
Arsenic was used in medicinal agents in the 19th and early 20th centuries but replaced with safer alternatives after it was found to be toxic; exposure to inorganic arsenic increases the risk of cancer of the skin, bladder, kidney, liver and lung.
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