Air museum for sale

The large travelling case folds out to form a small booth, its shelves filled with jars, each labelled in tiny script. ‘He used to take it off to seaside resorts at weekends to make a bit of money,’ the woman says. There’s air from the top of Mt Kenya sampled in 1908 by German climbers, economy-cabin air from a 747 at the end of a long-haul flight, air salvaged from a stateroom of the Titanic. The woman points to small jar on the top row. ‘This one is windy Yorkshire air, donated by an H Jenkins who started him collecting,’ she says. ‘And these are samples of “hot air” generated by various politicians, one of his jokes.’ On the next level down is a phial of Jurassic air synthesised by a team at Palo Alto, from fossil records, and an ancient glass flask alleged to contain air from the tomb of Christ. Cards inscribed with famous quotes accompany the display. Lucretius: ‘Air, I should explain, becomes wind when it is agitated.’ Shakespeare: ‘…and gives to airy nothing a local habitation and a name.’ ‘How much do you think it’s worth?’ the woman asks.



Simon Collings
Words & Picture






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