Not everyone likes the smell of garlic. But I do. Not on people's breath of course - particularly next day. As driving down from Montgomeryshire to Cardiff tonight, the smell hanging over Brecon created an image in my mind of a late night French barbeque in the garlic season. It must have been the still cold night but the output emanating from the Beacon Foods factory on the outskirts of the town has never smelt stronger. Anyway, it has put the power of smell in my mind - and particularly its power to offput.
I still remember the foul smell when I had to empty all the poultry manure pits when I was a lad on the family farm. I felt sick dealing with the first slurry tanker load, but after a while I became used to it and didn't notice it at all. But everybody else did. The worst of it was that, no matter how much I scrubbed myself, I stank of chicken s*** all night. I was still a virgin til we sold the chickens. If we hadn't given up the poultry, I would probably still be a single man, without any friends.
And then, when I played rugby for Welshpool, in the twilight of my career, our hooker, Steve Pastfield, used to run a commercial pig unit. His fetid ambiance was worth 6 points a game - more if he came straight from the piggery. You could almost see the stink rising from the scrum and we hugely enjoyed the outraged groans of the opposition. Our props were used to it of course. We were nothing like so successful if Steve was on his week off. It never seemed to do him any harm but, surprisingly, he didn't grow very big.
Which brings me to municipal incinerators. Whenever an incinerator is proposed by a waste disposal authority, there is immediate outrage about the anticipated smell. So I went to Vienna to find out, where all the city's rubbish is burned in city centre incinerators, which also provide hot water for all the public housing. I have posted about the amazing Spittilau incinerator before, but there was absolutely no smell at all. The truth is, it smelt rather nicer than Brecon did tonight - and Brecon is one of the nicest places in the world to live.