Wednesday, 28 March 2018
The Museum of London has a new section on the monster fatberg of Whitechapel, a vast conglomeration of (mostly) fat, setting to concrete as it accumulated around various sorts of undissolvable waste, grit and calcium in the sewers underneath an area with a high proportion of takeaway food joints. As you enter, a display cabinet shows you the sewer workers' protective suit - and the shovels they had to resort to at times to dig it out.
As is traditional in high-profile exhibits, the headline item is reserved for its own special spotlit case within a darkened inner sanctum: no more prepossessing than a piece of rubble on a demolition site, but what lump of gunk could be anything else?
It serves as a warning of the damage simple carelessness can do, and a reminder of the things so many unseen workers do to keep the city going. There is some good news : it can all be used, refined for fuel for buses, with the residue burnt in power stations.
And, of course, the museum shop serves handy mementoes: badges, T-shirts, shopping bags, cuddly toy rats, and should you feel like a themed snack, a bag of toothsome "Fatberg sludge".