Mystery miasma

On thursday I spent the day checking the soles of my shoes for unpleasant dog-related substances as everywhere I went it seemed that I could smell a faint tang of excrement. But before you start emailing me with smart remarks, it turns out that I wasn’t the only one plagued by the smell – Polly told me the next day that she had noticed it but hadn’t mentioned it in case no one else had, and on Friday our local paper, the Bristol Evening Post, ran a report on page three about the “nasty nif” hanging over the city centre. One interviewee descibed the smell as “rather like when they muckspread on farms”, which was pretty much spot on if you ask me.

Although Wessex Water, the local water utility company, claimed that nothing in their system seemed to be amiss, they agreed to send someone in to investigate. Although some kind of trouble with the sewers seems like a fairly likely explanation, there’s fun to be had thinking up alternative explanations. Perhaps some incompetent terrorists attempted to poison the city only to find out too late that their arms dealer was having a bt of a laugh and instead of Sarin he’d flogged them several cylinders of joke fart gas. Who knows – send me any better ideas, if you have ’em.

One interesting thing that came of the smell was the reference in the Evening Post article to the delightfully Fortean “Bristol Hum”, a low-frequency noise heard in Bristol and other places in the world allegedly the result of noise pollution by traffic and factories, but is still viewed by many as a mystery. Let’s hope that the “Bristol Stench” doesn’t persist for quite so long.