Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pong de Paris & Medieval London

A documentary series by the BBC Two called "Filthy Cities" tackles two of the most infamously "stinky" of European cities from the past (today they're not so fragrant either): Paris and London. A history lesson and some olfactory adventurous research as well, guided by historian Dan Snow with some impressive CGI scenes. The London episode is presented in its entirety below.

And if you think you could brave it, watch a poor human specimen test on camera the scratch & sniff cards for the show, available in any library in the UK courtesy of the BBC.
In many ways reminiscent of the atmosphere of "Perfume, Story of a Murderer", only this is no fiction....


  1. This was so interesting !
    Sometimes one thinks "Oh, I would love to be around in Jane Austen's time and wear those dresses etc " .... I don't think so !!! LOL

  2. Oh, poor guy! :)
    I'd thought he might actually have a physical reaction to the sewage smell.
    I'd love trying one of those scratch & sniff cards. Even though I might run in the opposite direction after smelling some of the possibilities. But I can't help but be intrigued by those smells.

  3. I love how the "poor human specimen" keeps going back to the sewage smell after he is thoroughly disgusted by it (I actually thought he was going to vomit be the look on his face!)....just like that loose tooth that hurts to move around with your tongue, but you keep moving it around anyway (to make sure it still hurts!)

    I hope this will be up on your blog for awhile - I need to set aside some time to watch the whole episode.

    Thanks for posting this!

  4. Hellow ma'am :)

    I am very happy & grateful to you to have permitted this educating & funny documentary.
    I was very impressed with the almost tidy cleanliness of the streets of London when I visited. I know understand why. When I'll go back this Autumn i hope to be able to try the scratch'n'sniff :p
    I was intrigued when the commentator said he was "getting used to the stink"; i suppose one would rather tolerate in the streets but at home it must have been necessary to clean & change clothes. I am intrigued now as to when exactly the use of soap, lavender oil & the likes were introduced in the Londoners life? here goes the mind again....
    have a great day !

  5. M,

    you're always a smart one, cutting to the chase instead of staying only the superficial detais. Eaxctly, Jane Austen times weren't exactly times when everything came up smelling like roses. ;-)

  6. Ines,

    poor soul, he did try! LOL, he actually is both attracted and repelled by the pure stench, he seems to go back to it, just to test himself. :D

    Some companies launch products with scratch and sniff cards: watch out for them. I attended a car launch preview in which they had these to evoke leather interiors and mahogany board to the audience (have to say the leather interiors one was very accurate, considering!)

  7. Marko,

    thanks for that spot on simile: perfectly said! Testing to see if it's still there. Right!
    Do block some time, these documentaries are well worth it, I think. They did a good job.

  8. V,

    you're most welcome, I couldn't pass it up when I saw they were available on Youtube. :-)

    London is tidy (as is Paris) and one kinda understands that there is an ulterior reason for it. Then the piss smell hits and you "get" it! Athens by comparison is almost entirely piss-free and vomit-free (both very uncommon sights and rather taboo activities), but it has that sweet nauseating stink of rotten garbage on the days the garbage workers are on strike.
    Nothing's perfect, I guess!


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