“Drains don’t make heroes,” I thundered in a piece about polio in a recent issue of Prospect. Apparently, I was wrong. It’s just that they don’t make heroes very quickly. This I learned at the truly fascinating new exhibition on Dirt at the Wellcome Collection, one of Prospect‘s cultural picks for this month. On the wall of a whole room related to London’s troubled relationship with its drains, there’s a quote from an 1860 edition of Farmers’ Magazine: “If the money value of our sewers could be shown to the British farmer in bright and glittering heaps of sovereigns, he would grasp at the enormous wealth.”
Getting dirty at the Wellcome Collection
There could be no better confirmation of the indignities of the office of vice president...