Nobody remembers exactly who coined the word, but it started off as a bit of slang used by the Thames Water “flushers” who work to keep the sewers flowing freely beneath London. Their word first surfaced from those Victorian tunnels and into the newspapers in August 2013, when a bus-sized “fatberg” – a solid mass of oil and grease and undisposable disposables – was removed from a sewer in Kingston upon Thames. After that the name caught on in the way that its rival “johnnyberg” (used by the flushers of Anglian Water, who had been struck by the preponderance of condoms in the ossified deposits) did not. “Fatberg” reached the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015 – at the same moment as “manspreading” and “Brexit” and “bantz” – and in the same year in which a record-breaking 10-tonne example broke a sewer in Chelsea costing Thames Water £400,000 to fix. But it wasn’t really until last year that “fatberg” went viral. The Whitechapel fatberg that made headlines in September was among our most infectious social media exports of 2017. The units in which it was routinely measured gave away its birthplace. This being a London phenomenon it was invariably described in… Read full this story
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