Have you ever been on public transport or in a shop and noticed a rather unpleasant smell? I certainly have. I have always wondered why some people don’t seem to notice that they smell nasty and do something about it. Many years ago, my mother worked with someone who told her it was ‘manly’ to smell of sweat. This same man had salty rings around the armpits of his suit jacket. He bragged about not using deodorant or men’s cosmetic products. Thankfully, many men are now happy to use cosmetics and toiletries and we maybe don’t see the quantity of smelly people around that we used to. However, this also makes it all the more noticeable when we do find ourselves in the vicinity of one.

In the 1970s, when I met Mr Whinge, the first thing I noticed about him was the lovely smell as he walked by. Well OK, it was Brut……but still. He didn’t worry about smelling ‘manly’ thank goodness and I have to say that over the years I have never found him to be anything but delightfully fragrant. I can understand that some people might not be able to buy costly smelly goods but surely a bit of soap and water doesn’t cost much? Most body smells can be cleared with just soap and water used regularly. 

The other one that I find really unpleasant is the smell that emanates from smokers. My father recently had some physio and a troupe of physiotherapists came to help him with walking. They were lovely people and very kind and helpful but one of them obviously smoked and as soon as she came into the house, you could smell her. It stuck to her clothes and skin and in a job where you are ‘up close and personal’ it was also very unpleasant on her breath. I used to find myself hoping that it wouldn’t be her each day. Even after she had gone, the smell lingered and I kept an air freshener handy to mask it once she had left.

The difficulty is, how do you let someone know that they don’t smell nice? It is a very sensitive issue and there’s no easy way to do it. I have had to do it with children in school on occasions. You have to be so tactful and even then it isn’t easy. So most of us just don’t do it and consequently the problem remains.

None of us like bad smells but nobody seems to have an easy answer to the problem.



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