Tuesday, 10 September 2013


In an increasingly desperate attempt to come up with new material to write about, I am really scraping the bottom of the barrel this time, as I thought I would do a little bit about smells.

I was on this occasion inspired by passing a dustbin lorry in town (or garbage truck if you are reading from across the water).

I think I have a very distinctive sense of smell which is surprising really considering I seem to be blocked up with hayfever or various other problems most of the year round. I am sure my sense of smell was not always this pronounced. A pity, as I once had the opportunity for a dream job in the world of smells.

No, it was not a tester for various aftershave's which would have left me "smelling like a tart's window box", an oft quoted phrase I heard frequently in my youth (but which you never hear any more). It was while I was working in the marketing department at Tesco Head Office during the mid 1990's. Part of my job involved liaising with the various departments, one of which was Beers, Wines and Spirits and I got on very well with the marketing manager in charge at that time. A job became available as a wine buyer, with a very glamorous description. This was not long after a series of ads had been on TV featuring Dudley Moore travelling off around the world in search of various delicacies to bring back for us lucky souls at home to buy along with our cornflakes and bog roll. So I went along to find out more and it transpired that in order to get this job one had to have a very well developed sense of smell in order to do all of that "smelling the bouquet" in order to mouth off various stuff about "hints of ambrosia laced with leathery honey" and all that bull like that really annoying woman who you never see on the telly any more used to do.

I seemed to be almost permanently blocked up with colds and various other illnesses back then which I put down to the stress of being in a career which I disliked. And it probably also had something to do with the fact that being a young man in my mid 20s I was also out on the lash almost every night. Needless to say, I failed, and my dreams of a glamorous jet-setting career swigging booze around the globe died there and then.

As I have gotten older though, my sense of smell has improved, and I really do enjoy now shoving my nose into a glass of wine and having a good old sniff. A bit of accompanying cheese and it is all the better. It's a most enjoyable way to enjoy an evening in front of the TV, of which there are a lot these days. As for other smells, well, all predictable stuff really, you cannot go wrong with freshly baked bread and it is a well known fact that people baking a loaf when showing people around the house can increase their chances of selling it. There have been reports in the past of supermarkets piping the smell of freshly baked bread into the store to encourage people to buy, even if they don't have an in-store bakery. Whether this is true, or yet another one of those urban myths I like to talk about, who knows?

Back in my school days we were very into "scratch and sniff" rubbers. I assume you can still get them. I remember having one that looked like a strawberry that I got rather addicted to. It had a very strong aroma and was just the thing to keep one awake and alive during an interminably boring double chemistry lesson.

That's nice smells, but of course, like all things in life, there is good and evil, and now we move on to the evil. The list of unpleasant smells is all fairly obvious, but the one I hate the most, and the one that inspired me to write is that dustbin lorry smell.

Worse than poo, worse than drains, I try and hold my breath whenever I see a bin lorry. The smell is always exactly the same, I assume this must be what the accumulated combination of rotting food, nappies, and various other detritus smells like. It's hard to identify the exact source of the smell, but I would say that rotting vegetables must play a big part in it. It has to be said the one job I could never do would be that of a binman. Not only do you have to live with that smell day in day out, but at this time of year, the bins are surrounded by wasps as well, who I imagine don't take kindly to the fact that you are emptying out their own free vending machines.

Drains - unpleasant but I can live with it. Poo itself varies from person to person, all have their own distinctive aroma. Once you have brought up a couple of kids through the nappy stage you tend to become fairly immune to it. The one thing that I absolutely hate though is when people attempt to mask it with air freshener but only half and half succeed, so you end up with this sickly sweet pooey smell. I would rather just stick with the raw sewage.

Finally, a little bit on farts. I very much have enjoyed over the years the character "Johnny Fartpants" in Vix, hopefully I won't get in to copyright trouble by including a little picture of him here, if I promote the mag, so here we go, "Buy Viz it's great, here's a picture of one of the characters".

Johnny, in full flow.

The reason I wanted to include this picture was I always found it entertaining that you could see the cloud of gas emerging from Johnny's bottom. Sadly in real life this is not true, and if someone has let one off in a pub there is no warning, you can walk straight into the invisible cloud of poisonous gas.

In fact it is not poisonous, though apparently some people in the middle ages thought it was. I have often thought though, wouldn't it be great if the gas was in fact visible, say a kind of fluorescent green cloud. Imagine the entertain value of that! Watching someone walking down the street sneakily letting one of with an aeroplane style vapour trail following on behind them. Or even funnier the desperate scramble of punters in the pub struggling to get out of the way of an evil green cloud spreading across the room. There's got to be some comedy mileage in that one, I wonder if the BBC would consider commissioning a sitcom based on the proviso. On seconds thoughts, perhaps it would be more Channel 4's sort of thing. I shall dash off an email to them right now.

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Jason xx

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