I promise that I’ll get back to more serious topics shortly, but I’m still trying to catch up on catching up. Among recent distractions was the fact that on Tuesday I was giving a presentation at a meeting of The Geological Society here in London (in other words, The Geological Society). The talk was on Ralph Bagnold, a personal and scientific hero; I could go on at some length about the man and his achievements and legacy, so the time-consuming challenge in preparation was attempting to do justice to him in thirty minutes.
I had in mind to write a post on one of the recent papers that I have been reading, but this requires a bit more digging and so must be postponed. However, for now, an amusement. The Geological Society resides in some splendour on Piccadilly, its historic “apartments” being in Burlington House, also home of the Royal Academy and several other learned societies. The Society was originally established as a dining club “for the purpose of making geologists acquainted with each other, of stimulating their zeal, of inducing them to adopt one nomenclature, of facilitating the communications of new facts and of ascertaining what is known in their science and what remains to be discovered.” I can only hope that my talk stimulated at least a little zeal….
Across Piccadilly from Burlington House is the illustrious, old, and exorbitant emporium of Fortnum and Mason, whose wares stimulate a zeal in the appetite but a reluctance to open one’s wallet. US readers may be amused to read the following on the store’s history, quoted from their website:
1773 Boston Tea Party inspires American Independence movement
It is not on record who supplied the tea, but it was probably not us: we have never charged extortionate prices and none of our teas do at all well with salt water. Since Independence, though, our American cousins have been among our most loyal customers.
En route to the GeolSoc, I was walking past Fortnum’s and the Christmas window displays for which they are famous. I was, of course, delighted to see, as a prominent motif in one the extravagant rotating arrangements, a sandglass: my thesis on the ubiquity of sand justified again. The photo at the head of this post also features Burlington House in the reflection.