Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bus Spotting in Swansea

Only Two Can Play (1962), the story of a sex-obsessed librarian in fictional Aberdarcy, was the first ever X-certificate film set in Wales. Some - by today's standards - mild sex scenes and a bit of nudity the cause of the censor's anxiety. As is well-known the film was shot in and around sunny Swansea (Briton Ferry, Neath and Llanelli were also utilised).

There is an ambivalence towards the film in Wales. On the one hand it is undoubtedly very funny with Peter Sellers outstanding as concupiscent John Lewis, bogged down in the committee dominated world of small town Wales. Social climbers, sycophants, and artistic poseurs all get the satirical kicking they deserve. However, as well as being an attack on the crachach and croneyism, the film is quite disdainful towards the Welsh language and Cymric cultural life in general. The script was adapted from That Uncertain Feeling, a novel by Kingsley Amis (and there's a whole can of postcolonial worms, right there!).

But, if you can take the dodgy Welsh accents and the fact that - in terms of authorship - this is very much an anglocentric view of Wales, there is still much to enjoy in Only Two Can Play - not least the buses. I recently came across a fascinating website called Buses on Screen which is dedicated to bus spotting in films and television programmes. The internet was invented for such obsessives. Evidently there is a lot of bus action in Only Two Can Play with such exotic sightings as the South Wales Transport 467 (NCY476) a 1956 AEC Regent V/Weymann double decker, and a West Wales Motors Guy double decker. In the above still you can glimpse a Park Royal-bodied 804 (MCY423), apparently.