In the last podcast, I said that I would tell you how Birmingham did in their match against Aston Villa. Well, they lost 5-1. Sorry, Birmingham! Birmingham could still stay in the Premiership next season, but things are not looking good. The nail-biting continues.
Now for our story today. It started on Thursday evening last week. People in the south-east of England noticed a strange smell in the air. It was not a pleasant smell. Rather, it was the smell of rotten things, of manure and sewage, mixed with the smell of traffic fumes. People started to complain - to the newspapers and TV stations, and to the weather forecasters at the Meteorological Office. What was it?
Well, said the Meteorological Office, the cause of the Great Smell was this. There was a mass of cold, still air over northern Europe. There was low cloud and no wind. All sorts of smells and fumes - from industry and from farms, from traffic and from everyday life - had become trapped under the cloud. Then on Thursday, the cold air, and its smells, had moved westwards over southern England.
"What?" said our newspapers. "You mean, it isn't a good, healthy English smell. It's a nasty foreign smell." And the newspapers started to run stories about how the smell was all the fault of the French, because we English always blame the French first whenever anything bad happens. However, it then became clear that the smell was coming, not from France, but from further north and east. So we started to blame the Germans and the Dutch, because we English always blame the Germans and the Dutch second whenever anything bad happens.
The Meteorological Office tried to explain that the smell was not a threat to health, and that it would blow away in the next few days. But the newspapers did not want to listen. They were having too much fun blaming foreigners.
The truth, of course, is this:
1. there was nothing more interesting for the newspapers to report;
2. people who live in towns get used to town smells, like traffic fumes and fast-food restaurants. They forget that there are country smells too, like the smell of manure being spread on fields.
3. many newspapers forget that England too has serious pollution problems. Normally, the westerly winds carry our pollution over to other countries, so maybe it is fair that occasionally other countries' polluted air comes to us.
And what can you learn from this story? First, remember that "smell" in English is a neutral word. We can talk about nice smells and unpleasant smells. You can tell your girlfriend that her new perfume smells lovely; and you can say that a pile of rotten rubbish smells horrible.
Second, there are lots of other words that you can use instead of "smell". A delicate, pleasant smell, like the smell of a flower, can be called a "scent". "Aroma" is a neutral word like "smell" - there are pleasant aromas (like dinner cooking in the kitchen) and unpleasant aromas. And a really nasty smell like the smell of sewage can be called a "stink" or a "stench".
So now you know lots of words to use if you ever want to talk about the smelly English.
PS. I forgot - the word "odour" also means a smell, normally an unpleasant smell.
PETER CARTER THE GREAT SMELL lyrics are property and copyright of their owners and are provided for educational purposes and personal use only.