The olfactory sense is rarely used by the powers that be, although it’s not entirely unknown. Three or four years ago a report appeared in newspapers that the Israelis were finding the use of tear-gas as a means of controlling the rebellious Palestinians too expensive, and sought an alternative and cheaper means to fulfil this function. The solution from Government labs were certain chemical compounds which, when mixed and administered, delivered a blast of the most fearful and terrible stink imaginable.
This new substance worked like magic, since should the body or clothing have contact with it, the awful smell lingered for days despite the most vigorous scrubbing, although there may have been those amongst the hard-core fraternity who wore their stink like an honour.
We are entering a large upmarket department store. Lingerie is on the third floor and here, delicate and soft music fills the discreetly erotic air as ladies linger their way between racks of shimmering underwear. Knickers of the purest silk flaunt their lacy edges, frail as gossamer their wispy cover ready to fall to the single wrench of an uncouth hand. Forests of Satin slips and frothy bras stretch from wall to distant wall and amongst these the ladies, fur-clad, high-heeled and daintily hand-bagged browse, while here and there a soberly-clad assistant casts a watchful eye.
Towards the centre of this alluring scene something odd is occurring. A group of ladies have gathered who seem to have no interest in the lingerie at all, but they have a determined look about them and dart surreptitious glances in all directions. Not being quite sartorially up to the standards of the store they hold their slightly shabby overcoats together tightly.
Suddenly, one of these women shouts ‘Now!’ and at her word they open their coats wide to display a broad body-belt strung around each waist, with a row of dangerous looking cartridges attached.
‘Now!’ shouts the woman again, and each takes hold of a hanging chord and pulls. Greenish smoke billows outward from the group accompanied by the most horrendous stink imaginable. The stink is pernicious; revolting; unbearable; and the perpetrators’ faces register extreme revulsion beneath which is a stern core of stoicism, a sacrifice it seems willingly undertaken, for who in their right mind would let off a powerful stink-bomb when it was stuck, for instance, into the waistband of their trousers?
Cascades of knickers are thrown into the air in multi-coloured clouds as the panic-stricken women run screaming and retching for the exit, bras and delicate silken slips trampled underfoot in a mad stampede to avoid the revolting smell. Many ladies fall to the floor in a swoon, not for want of oxygen, but rather from the sheer overwhelming affront to their sensibilities.
The fearful stink quickly permeates throughout the whole floor sending shoals of screaming women running for the escalators. These means of escape however, are soon swamped by gagging customers, and now one of the senior floor assistants tries to push her way through this frantic mob. She is hysterical and shrieking at the top of her voice.
‘Suicide stink-bombers,’ she screams.’
Down in the street the main doors are opened wide and puking shoppers are streaming out and breathing deeply they gasp in relief. Passers-by get one whiff and hold their noses tightly.
‘Pooh,’ they say. ‘POOH!’
Pic: Mike Lesser