Stenches & Stinks: Foul Odors & Smells (IHTM)

pinkstarbuck

Gone But Not Forgotten
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I work in Piccadilly circus, London, and today at about 12.30-45pm there was what can only be explained by the stench of death in the area. It lasted for around 5 minutes and the smell seemed to increase in vileness to the point where it could be tasted, if that makes sense. It permeated all 3 floors in the building i work in, we`re enclosed in the trocadero and have doors on the main floor but no open windows or doors on other floors. It was smelt by many of my colleagues as well as me and people outside were reacting to it too and left many of us with headaches.

We did initially think it was a rubbish truck passing through but there were no trucks outside and a colleague who came in from her cigarette outside didn`t see a truck at all whilst she was out there. It was all very strange, certainly unsettling and i was just wondering if anyone else that may have been in the city smelt it?
 
What a very strange thing to have happened. Have you thought of ringing the local press, see if they've heard anything?
 
Sewers backed up and vented, maybe?
 
That's horribly creepy. If you can please, check the news reports and keep us updated. The only thing I can think of is a backed up sewer pipe.
 
Wasn't there a story like this in the FT recently? I seem to remember something about an underground station.
 
A very similar thing happened when I worked in CHurchill Square Shopping Centre in Brighton, autumn 2001.

The maintenance guys found a pretty well-rotted seagull jammed in an air conditioning intake.....strangely enough though, like you said, we only got the smell for about five or ten minutes.
 
I also work in that area, but only for 1/2 days of the week. I'm over by the Haagen Dazs cafe, hiya!

Often I find the sewers under China Town create an unholy smell. But I only ever notice it in the Summer months. And it was pretty chilly yesterday so no suggestion that's what it was.

What made you label it the "stench of death"? Was it different to the the normal refuse/sewers smell?
 
I must admit, first thing I thought of was dead bird in the ventilation system. If it had been there for a few weeks and suddenly got dislodged for some reason, that could explain the smell's sudden appearance and disappearance.
 
Or a dead squirrel or rat!

Here in Toronto Chinatown, everyone always goes on about rats the size of cats. Sadly, the only rats I've seen have been the size of rats :(
 
Weird! I have smelled something horrible a couple of times in the past day or two as I walk past the building site at Euston Place (corner of Hempstead rd). It smells of rotting meat/pasta/potatoes and makes me want to choke. Something is definitely decomposing somewhere....
 
eww I once a few years back found out my uncle had passed away and was dead for a week inside his apartment before someone called the police due to this very smell you speak of. When I got to his apartment after they had taken away the body I found the door locked and no land lord to open it up for me, I slipped through the window to that very pungent smell of rotting death and will never forget the smell as it licked at my tongue.
 
Years ago, a friend and I were climbing up the edges of Findhorn valley in Scotland, trying to avoid the various red deer that were hanging out on the slopes. We kept saying how awful the deer poo smelled. It was only when we were coming back down that we realized the slopes were also littered with loads of dead deer and it was luck we hadn't come across them earlier.

Both of us were avid horror fans, and therefore most embarrassed that we hadn't recognized the 'stolid stench of death' tm

but once smelled, never forgotten bleauch
 
There is a local walk we go on sometimes that includes some woodland on a steep slope. Last spring I noticed the smell of rotting dead thing at a certain point, quite strong. Thing is every time I have been back since the smell is still there, in quite a small defined area so its not drifting from somewhere else. Whatever is rotting in that wood must be pretty big to still be giving off a smell after several months. Not sure I want to look for the source though :-/
 
Dead elephant maybe? It's still rotting...
 
marionXXX said:
There is a local walk we go on sometimes that includes some woodland on a steep slope. Last spring I noticed the smell of rotting dead thing at a certain point, quite strong...

Quite possibly a Stinkhorn mushroom. They give off an odour of carrion to attract insects (which then disperse its spores). I can report from first hand experience that the damn things absolutly reek.
 
A smelly fungus? How interesting.

I used to notice a horrible rotten-type smell in some bushes on my dogwalk. It never interested the dogs and we didn't see any flies so although we'd have sworn there was a corpse lying there somewhere we didn't look into it. I bet that was a stinkhorn too.
 
There are also different types of plants, Rafflesia and Amorphophallus, variously called "Carrion Flowers" which ming of rotting flesh, to attract insects for help with pollination. Some of the largest flowers in the world belong to these groups.

It's true though, the smell of a decaying body is by far the worse thing I've ever got a whiff of, it's about the only thing that always causes an involuntary reaction in me. I remember passing some dead goats whilst on my motorbike in Crete, and the stench clawed at me. Dead people are worse!

Actually, no, there is another smell and that's skunk. Not weed, but the animal. Hard for us Europeans to fathom just how bad fresh skunk smells, but trust me, you do not want to be anywhere near a skunk when it lets rip.
 
I actually don't find the smell of skunk too bad - dead deers are worse - it's just very, very, very pungently clinging.

A colleague's dog got skunked recently and when she came into the office the next day, she made the whole of the ground floor reek.
 
The worst odour I ever encountered was while cycling behind a slow moving and over-loaded truck containing rotten sheep's heads. I've no idea why only heads or where they were going but every time the vehicle cornered a few more rotting skulls fell out so that I had to cycle round them.

People at bus stops and in cars were clutching sleeves to their mouths and I had to stop in the end because I thought I'd throw up. The stink clung to my clothes until I washed them. Truly disgusting.
 
colpepper1 said:
The worst odour I ever encountered was while cycling behind a slow moving and over-loaded truck containing rotten sheep's heads. I've no idea why only heads or where they were going but every time the vehicle cornered a few more rotting skulls fell out so that I had to cycle round them.

People at bus stops and in cars were clutching sleeves to their mouths and I had to stop in the end because I thought I'd throw up. The stink clung to my clothes until I washed them. Truly disgusting.

You should have taken a note of the reg plate and reported it to environmental health. That sounds pretty negligent, allowing rotting sheep's heads to fall off the truck like that.
 
Mythopoeika said:
You should have taken a note of the reg plate and reported it to environmental health. That sounds pretty negligent, allowing rotting sheep's heads to fall off the truck like that.

It was about 25 years ago. Even at the time it didn't make much sense because the truck was filthy, belching black fumes and so obviously over loaded that some heads were going to fall out. If ever a lorry driver was going to get nicked, he was. A sheep's head is a heavy object if it hits a person or a vehicle.

Given the trade he was in and the state of his wagon, I don't think a gentle word would have had a happy outcome. It was either deliberate or he didn't GAF.
 
Interesting to hear of smelly plants. I recently removed a climbing plant from a trellis on my shed, a fine white flowered thing that absolutely stank in summer. Used to hold my breath while I undid the padlock, it had to go, pretty as it was.
 
linesmachine said:
I also work in that area, but only for 1/2 days of the week. I'm over by the Haagen Dazs cafe, hiya!

Often I find the sewers under China Town create an unholy smell. But I only ever notice it in the Summer months. And it was pretty chilly yesterday so no suggestion that's what it was.

What made you label it the "stench of death"? Was it different to the the normal refuse/sewers smell?

Hello! I`m over in HMV!
The sewers in china town can be pretty rank but i can`t really smell them unless i`m walking through Leicester square or up towrds forbidden planet. The smell wasn`t like your usual smell, it seemed like it thickened the air. It didn`t smell of foxes but it kind of hung around like the smell of fox urine does on a dog after its been for a run in the garden, only on a much larger scale. It smelled like how i`d imagine a dead corpse to smell, the closest i`ve had to that is when i found a dead, maggot ridden mouse in my bedroom when i was a child after smelling a decay smell in my room and not knowing where it was coming from, we eventually found it under the chest of drawers on my cabin bed. Nasty, not a smell you forget either :( Although we did find a mouse at work in the air vents last summer that left behind a very sour cheesy smell lol!
 
LordRsmacker said:
Actually, no, there is another smell and that's skunk. Not weed, but the animal. Hard for us Europeans to fathom just how bad fresh skunk smells, but trust me, you do not want to be anywhere near a skunk when it lets rip.

*small voice* I actually sort of like the smell of skunk...

Er, probably not if it was in my house or otherwise at close proximity, to be fair. But when it's hanging pungent in the air at night, I sort of like it.
 
I've just been out for a walk and there is an unusual smell hanging around.
It's not just in one place, or seeming to come from any one particular direction.
It's neither pleasant nor unpleasant.
It's a smell that reminds me of the smell of 'pot noodle'.
We used to have the 'Nabisco' (or 'cereal partners') breakfast cereals factory in WGC and when I first moved here in 2003 it was still working at full tilt, and on some afternoons, with the breeze in the right direction, there was a strong smell of Shredded Wheat in the air.
They ceased operations there long ago and the site is now being built on with blocks of flats etc.
Also we have a factory that makes dry dogfood, but that has a quite distinct smell to it.
 
It's interesting that when my former roommate moved into the apartment I now live in, she mentioned an "odd, apartment smell". She doesn't do well with air fresheners and the like, but spent years trying to figure out where it came from.

Whelp, I now know that it's the kitchen sink drains. This place has always had terrible drains, but yeah, if you don't run the kitchen faucet for a few days, the smell comes up from the pipes. It's not sewage proper, it's just a nasty funk. I talked to the last plumber to be out here and he flat out said that the pipes were so corroded that *anything* that wound up down there would stick and you can guess the rest of the story.
 
A regular treatment (monthly) with one of those foaming drain cleaning products should sort that.
You'd think so, but no. Roommate and I have tried everything over the years.
 
I remember in the first week I moved into my new apartment, I suddenly felt a strong smell of perfume and someone smoking. I had the door open to the balcony and thought it might be someone in the apartment below sitting on the balcony smoking, but the perfume smell was very intense. People are not allowed to smoke neither in the apartments nor on the balconies, so I'm not sure what it was.

The ghost of a previous tenant? I only experienced it once. Didn't happen again.
 
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