French Stench

I have a finely cultivated sense of smell. It sometimes works for me, like in a bakery or it can trip me up, like when I deployed on an aircraft carrier and sniffed jet fuel all day long. In England, they are suffering from the French stench. Apparently, the stink has spread:

French StenchA cloud of harmless gas smelling of sweat and rotten eggs leaked from a chemicals factory in northwest France and drifted across the English Channel as far as London on Tuesday.

The leak occurred on Monday morning at a Lubrizol France plant near Rouen, 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Paris, and winds blew the invisible gas cloud south over northern France on Monday night and then up into England on Tuesday.

The fire brigade in the county of Kent, southeast of London, warned residents to keep their doors and windows closed due to the gas, which may make some people feel nauseous, and police said they had reports of an acrid smell in the capital.

It was due to start an operation on Tuesday evening to stop the fumes, a process that could take hours or days, Pierre-Henry Maccioni, head of the Seine-Maritime regional government, said.

“It’s not so much a leak as a product that has decomposed, which smells very bad and which is escaping,” the firm’s internal operations director, Pierre-Jean Payrouse, told RTL radio.

“An investigation is under way but our priority is to deal with the problem.”

London tabloids, quick to seize on historical animosity between the British and French, went to town with the whiff. A Daily Mail headline lambasted a “French stench” while an article in the Sun cited a “mystery pong” that was “blamed on France”.

French FlagMeanwhile, authorities in France and Britain assured affected residents the gas was not a health threat.

The Paris police department issued a statement saying the gas posed no health risk but warned that it smelled like a mixture of “sweat, garlic and rotten eggs”.

Is not mystery pong when you’re unfamiliar with your opponent in table tennis?