Smell and the City
It’s the urine in the stairwell. It’s the herby stench of Subway that lingers halfway down the street. It’s stewed coffee in a greasy spoon, boiling tar poured on a patchy road. It’s exhaust fumes and burning rubber. When the clubs throw out, it’s vomit and frying onions. Outside the gym it’s chlorine and sweat.
In the Square Mile, it’s success and money and dry cleaning fluid. In Soho it’s the gutters and celebrity, desperation and sex. At Christmas it’s mulled wine on the South Bank and caramelized peanuts. In summer it’s BO on the tube, the faint salt of the Thames and baking pavements. In some markets it’s damp vegetable skins and sweet limes, in others – in the north, in the west – it’s wild boar and crayfish paella, spilled prosecco on cobbles.
It’s air that’s been through two thousand bodies, it’s the breath of history, it’s the smell of the drains, it’s the stench and stink and perfume of the City.