Fact Number One:

There has been a damn funny smell in our kitchen for the last couple of weeks. It started as a breath of unpleasantness which I quite happily ignored: the house is inhabited by a farmer, complete with encrusted overalls carrying their own individual bouquet, two extremely clarted dogs (just so we’re clear, by ‘encrusted’ & ‘clarted’ I actually mean shit-plastered) and a toddler who not only insists on being ambulatory whilst eating, but drops food behind him like rain. We frequently have zephyrs of Unpleasantness passing through, and they are thankfully transitory. The dogs generally find the dropped food before I do, then leave, in company with the offending overalls, and we return to the usual inoffensive status quo. 

This particular scent stuck around. It became Ominous. Initial forays in cupboards, under the sofa, behind the dresser and beneath the island all drew a blank. It was a tang I couldn’t positively identify, but it was certainly beginning to fill me with a mild apprehension. The last time I was obliged to investigate an emanation that had outstayed its welcome, I dragged a furry dog bed out from under the worksurface to discover that my extraordinarily dim spaniel (frequently in disgrace) had eaten a small bird before vomiting it neatly UNDER the top cushion of said bed.

I began to think about the parents of an old boyfriend of mine, who had a similarly elusive aroma in their immaculate, minimalist master bedroom in a recently converted old barn. We crawled all over that room, sniffing like the Bisto kids,

 trying to pin down the origin and nature of the Whiff. We emptied the wardrobes. We took the bath side panel out. We turned out the divan bed drawers. We discussed anxiously whether there was an animal buried under the floor that was mysteriously sending a putrid stench through the concrete floor raft.

Eventually, someone shone a torch into the 1-inch gap between the divan bed and the floor, and it was suddenly like that scene out of Se7en where Brad Pitt goes all hoarse.

‘You better come take a look at this!’ 

It transpired that the cat had brought in a mouse that was not quite expired; it had evidently scurried just underneath the bed before finally succumbing to its injuries. I am puzzled to this day to how the decay of this tiny creature could produce such a noxious, near-solid stink, but it was a real rip-snorter of a whiff right enough.

As I say, this episode, coupled with the Congealed-Bird-In-Dog-Bed Horror, was making me nervous. I had searched everywhere, sniffing like the bloody Child Catcher, and drawn a blank. Walking into our kitchen was becoming distinctly – and increasingly – repulsive.

Fact Number Two.

During my recent short-lived pregnancy, I had a collection of pregnancy sticks lined up on the kitchen table, where anxious comparisons of the (phenomenally sensitive. A win for Tesco’s own brand pregnancy tests!) line colour-depth were made on a day to day basis. Following an excruciating incident when I unexpectedly entertained 3 friends, in full view of the elephant in the room row of fading peesticks, I decided that they would be better off living concealed in the tin on which I had been balancing them in order to photograph.

I duly shoved them in there, and dismissed them from immediate consideration. I wasn’t planning on taking them upstairs and storing them, but neither was I quite ready to throw them away; they were the only thing I had to reassure me that I hadn’t imagined the whole incident.

Can you connect facts One and Two? No? Well, here you go:

Fact Number Three.

Our kitchen island often looks like this;

the tin is vaguely visible on the left hand side.

Every few weeks someone generally wants me to create something that requires a hygienic kitchen and a large clear space, so I boot every living thing apart from myself out the door and blitz the rubble of bills, toys, fruit, cameras, paints, coins, binoculars, catalogues, telephones, fridge magnets, biscuits, books, newspapers, junk mail and cheque books into tidy order. Upon performing this task earlier this week, I looked at the peestick tin and resolved that it would actually suit Harry’s crayon collection better than his current pot. I also decided that I was now ready to let go of my ephemeral double lines. I moved toward the bin, briskly removed the lid, and… wowsa.

Ain’t nothing ephemeral about that.

Now. Ladies. I know quite a few of you have kept your ancient, yellowing, positive pregnancy tests. That’s just fine. I still have the first two positives I ever had, in fact, sat harmlessly in an envelope upstairs in the bathroom cupboard. The trick to keeping old tests successfully, it appears, is to keep them someplace where gaseous exchange isn’t an issue.

In other words, don’t keep them in a very-nearly-but-not-quite-airtight tin where they can’t dry out.

They pong, you see. And when you have 8 of them, they have a reek-potential level somewhere between ‘Eye-Watering’ and ‘Deadly Poisonous’. Merely putting the cap back over the damp end does not mean that you have rendered them socially acceptable and futureproofed.

Urine smells!

And I live and learn.

15 Responses

  1. wowsers. an mouse (presumed) died in the wall of our old apartment. its dying gift was a piscine aroma that lasted most of a year, then returned for the next three seasons whenever the heat came on. we called this spirit the Fish of Amontillado.

    your story is stranger, though.

  2. I once worked in a mouse lab, where we housed more than 700 individuals. I preferred the faintest squeaks of their beginnings to the pungency of their rare but untimely passing–it took less than a day to become VERY CLEAR where the unfortunate lay. In a room both well ventilated AND filled with mice. Therefore these stories do not surprise me in the least.

    These stories of mice, anyway. Keeping urine-soaked sticks for too long in the kitchen? Let me allow that I am surprised.

  3. Ah yes, Eau-de-expired-mouse. Unbelievable amount of pong for such a tiny thing. We finally tracked our one down to inside the workings of the fridge! Ewwww! This gap is now covered with stainless steel mesh just in case another one ever makes it inside the house and subsequently expires!

    Didn’t have home pee sticks in my productive years so no need to worry about storing them 😉

  4. LOL – I really got a laugh out of this post. When I was jjjjussst pg with #2, I was at the inlaw’s Christmas do at their farm and was thinking that I was oversensitive to smells. As it turns out, there was a dead cat under one of the honey tanks approximately 10 ft from where I was sitting. It still blows me away that it took 4 hours for anyone else to notice the smell!
    And thank you for posting taht pic of yoru kicthen …. mine frequently looks ilke that but I know I can clear it in 10 minutes flat!

  5. Ah!


    Right. Well. Might just go and check my gaseous exchange is.. eh… sufficient.

  6. This is a hilarious post! Another reason I nominated you. And I am happy to know that there is someone in blogland with household chaos comparable to my own! Peesticks aside, the view from your kitchen window is indeed breathtaking…

  7. Ewww. Another reason for my belief that peesticks are the ultimate evil and should be spurned.

  8. And there was I thinking the punchline would be the dog sh*t in the corner of the room!!

    Came across my peesticks the other day, granted they are in a carrier bag, but I do agree with you they are not pleasant on the nostrils.

    Somehow I think my little one would prefer I put a photograph of one in their time capsule rather than the original stick. No doubt I will end up smelling the same as said stick at some point in my future, but even so, I don’t think it will be appreciated!

  9. Don’t spend much time in subway tunnels, do you? I bet any Londoner, New Yorker, etc, could have identified your stench in just a few seconds!

    Also, the view from your kitchen window is incredible…

  10. Mmm… amonia.

  11. ROFL Not two minutes ago I tweeted this to my husband
    “@leechboy – laundry smells bad. really really bad. not sure what died in there but please leave internal laundry door SHUT tonight.”
    Too funny that I then open your blog to read about offensive pongs 😀

    Given we have had wet beds for several nights in a row … well I’m not surprised about the smell but it is super bad. Wonder if something nasty got sealed up somewhere along the way.

  12. Sounds delightful. Can’t be worse than the stench eminating from TBB’s bum atm though. Puke-inducing.

    That aside, I could sit and look at the view out of your window for ages!

  13. My first thought was not of pee-sticks but I have been reading of your self-confessed obsession with them for long enough that they should have jumped immediately front and centre when this post started.

    No, my first thought was of the culprit in the Great Villa Kore Household Stench Disaster of 2009. I, too, have lived and learned. I have lived through weeks of Foul Air and I have learned that there is no way to get rid of a brushy tail possum that has decided to shuffle off this mortal coil while sheltering between the two layers of a double brick wall. The double brick wall at our front entry.

    So we can share Eau De Dead Wildlife with every visitor that comes to our door.

  14. I nearly wrote ‘I nearly peed myself laughing, reading this’. It seemed somehow slightly TOO apt.

    I have only just thrown away the positive peesticks from January. They sat on the windowsill in the bathroom and H was too scared to touch them in case I Hulked on him.

    I have endless dead wildlife stench stories. None very funny, and all revolting. However! I once went on holiday for two weeks, leaving half a mug of cocoa in the kitchen. In my special cute mug that has a lid. And while we were away the weather was very warm. We got back to find the chocolate-flavoured yoghurt-explosion had popped the (heavy, china) lid right off the mug and half-way across the counter. And, Lordy, the SMELL. Rotting milk and chocolate. BAD. There’s something about lids, isn’t there?

  15. Each fall, we have mice move into the basement from outside. Each fall, armed with boxes of DeCon, we go to work and rid ourselves of these beasts (we don’t have a cat. I think we should get one. But the dog killed the last one, so I haven’t the heart for it.) Anyhow, through the years, there have been the occasional funny stories of someone popping their foot into a boot only to discover a dead mouse. (Hilarious if it is not your foot entering the boot, btw.) This year, I noticed a stink in my kitchen, too. I looked everywhere. Could not detect the source of it all. After a week or gradually getting worse and worse, my husband decided that it had to be in the wall. He lopped out a section of drywall to discover one tiny little mouse. One. I believe that the tinier something is, the worse it stinks. Pregnancy sticks…they’re pretty tiny, right?

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