On Tuesday, Nicktor brought with him an extremely unwelcome and tiny visitor. He forgot to take the visitor away with him on Wednesday morning. When I woke up this morning this visitor had settled in for the foreseeable.
I felt awful when I woke up but I figured it was just a cold so I battled into work. This was a very silly thing to do. As the day progressed, I grew worse and worse. My joints were complaining at every movement, my head was pounding, I became parched, I had a temperature and, finally, my nose started running. Nicktor had told me about the sandpaper throat and I witnessed the hacking cough but he didn’t tell me about the rest of it.
I rang Mirinda in the afternoon, just before leaving work, suggesting one of us stays at the flat so I can be in quarantine – there is no way she wants this. She volunteered to stay in town. I was far too sick to argue.
Apart from these major health issues, the day wasn’t too bad. On the way in I noticed a big sculpture standing opposite the crossing at Cromwell Road. It looked exactly like a giant pile of caramel.
This, and a number if other melty things, is the work of Tony Cragg. It makes up an installation called Tony Cragg at Exhibition Road. I have no idea what they are supposed to be but they are described as…based around the relationship between thoughts and emotions and how this affects notions such as movement. I really think the first one is caramel and the other brown one is melted chocolate.
There’s another one in the Science Museum but I didn’t pay it a visit in case it was custard.
The best thing that happened today was the discovery of Marcus Samuel (1853–1927). He was a bit of East End boy, all rampart entrepreneurship in a sharp suit. He decided to set up an import business when he realized there were stupid people who’d buy shells. Apparently it was a big thing at the time. He was very successful and soon expanded into importing lots of things of equal unimportance.
It didn’t take long for the mega-successful Samuel, to own a small but highly efficient fleet of ships. He was riding high on the need for overseas products, so cherished by the rich and stupid. And then things changed.
He was in Japan when he realized there was a lot of money to be made importing petroleum. This changed everything. He went on to become one of the most powerful men in London. He undercut American rivals, moving oil from country to country, with greater and greater success. His company became a force to be reckoned with and still dominates the petroleum industry.
He received all sorts of honours, eventually receiving the viscountcy of Bearsted, Maidstone.
Now, you may be wondering why I’ve waxed lyrical over this chap for so long. There were plenty of self-made, philanthropic men in Victorian England; why should he be any different?
The reason is a wonderful one. The company he created, which continues to this day, was Shell Oil, named in honour of how he started life selling them in his little shop. And I think that is pretty cool.