I am guilty of taking my olfaction for granted. Of not paying any attention to the molecular miracle that happens with each inhalation. Of looking down my nose at the importance of matters retronasal.
Until lately, that is.
For the past few weeks, I have succumbed to the lurgy and been more clogged up than a Portaloo at a prune festival. Not nice. Of all the symptoms that I have bravely borne, the worst – by a long distance – has been the anosmia. I haven’t been able to detect a single scent, whiff or pong. Not a smelly child or fresh coffee. Not frying onions or stinky socks. Nothing.
Chocolate tasted the same as pate, soup as custard, and haddock as chicken. Potentially interesting in the Fearnely-Whittingstall way, you’d have thought. But not when they all resemble edible cushion stuffing.
The world went flat and joyless without a single scent – I even wondered if I was real when I couldn’t smell myself. Is it an arm if it doesn’t smell like an arm?
Today, it’s back. Wonderfully, marvellously back. Anyone peering into my house would have seen me rushing around sticking my snout into cereal boxes, laundry baskets, tool boxes and fruit bowls inhaling huge lungfuls of odorants. Don’t tell the family, but I’m delighted (for the moment) to detect stinky trainers and fruity farts.
In honour of my marvellous organ, here are some interesting facts about smell.
You can smell fear and disgust.
A decline in sense of smell might indicate death within five years.
British people’s favourite smell is freshly baked bread.
Smell plays an important part in avoiding incest.
Women are better smellers than men.
Your sense of smell deteriorates with age.