20 July 2010

Gluttony as innoculation

'Several of the [railway] lines across what is now the Republic of South Africa were built by George Pauling, who, together with his brother Harry, and later his cousin Harold, formed the most successful railway contracting company in Africa. Pauling was one of the great characters of African railway development, a fat man who professed that the only way to resist the local disease was through vast consumption of food and, especially, alcohol. Famously, on one two-day trip along the Beira Railway with its manager Alfred Lawley and chief engineer, A.M. Moore, the three consumed 300 bottles of German beer. Breakfast for three, a few days later, consisted of 1000 oysters washed down with a modest eight bottles of champagne'

- Christian Wolmar, Blood, Iron & Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World, London, 2009.

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