Things That Aren’t the Smell of the Soil After Rain

I was out and about this afternoon and there was a certain amount of moisture in the air and it raised¬†thatsmell, the one whose name you can never remember when it comes up in a pub quiz. You start running down the list of words you think might be it but on reflection, very definitely aren’t. Here are some of those words.

Ichor¬†(n) In Greek mythology, ichor is the substance that flows through veins of the Gods. Of course it is. Gods can’t have ordinary blood. That’s not special enough for the bastards. They have to have something else to help them be self-serving, sex-addicted arseholes. There isn’t a single one of those gods – sorry, i meant sods – I wouldn’t happily set on fire so I could have the pleasure of not pissing on them. In ancient medicine, presumably any time prior to the invention of the medical malpractice lawyer, ichor was also the watery, foul-smelling discharge from a wound. That would still make it more attractive than 20 minutes in the company of Boris “Fucking” Johnson who thinks his new nickname is a compliment.

Melchior (proper n) Would I get into much trouble by calling it Christian mythology, do you think? Well, in Christian mythology, three magi, or kings, turned up bearing gifts for the newly-born “king of the Jews” and one of them was Melchior. The Bible doesn’t mention the names of these wise men, or tell us how many there were but people are people and people want to know stuff. Who were these wise men? Where did they come from? And other people want to supply information like that and we end up with Caspar, Balthazar and our very own Melchior, each one responsible for one of the gifts mentioned in Matthew 2:11. These days, we like to give the baby some cute clothes bearing slogans like “Daddy’s Little Princess” or “Say Goodbye To Sleep, Motherfucker” and maybe something for mum, like a bottle of gin and some condoms and a vasectomy voucher for dad. Back then, these allegedly wise men brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They brought these things to a homeless family living in a shed. I hope Mary stuck them on the first century equivalent of eBay as soon as the wise men were off round the corner.

Chordate (n) In short, a chordate is an animal with a dorsal nerve of some kind. They also have a notochord, pharyngeal slits – whatever they are – and a post-anal tail. You can do the post-anal joke yourselves. I’m going to stop Googling science and insert a spineless politician joke here. Surprisingly, a notochord isn’t a guitar effects pedal and is instead a flexible rod. Straight face emoji.

I am really going to have to do something about this filthy mind of mine.

Petits fours (n) Teeny-tiny biscuits and cakes designed to turn you into a fat bastard one slender, elegant mouthful at a time. Not to be confused with plus fours which are only there to make you look like a twat on a golf course.

Det cord (n) In excitable books for improbable boys, or improbable books for excitable boys, or most often just really bad books, det cord is the thing that attaches to explosives to make them explode. Explosives are no good if they just explode willy-nilly, they’re only worth having if they explode Willi Wellnigh, or somebody else, or something else and only when you tell them to explode.

Poor Willi. Nice chap. Handy with a spatula in a tight spot.

Patrick Orr He’s a palaeobiologist at University College Dublin. I would hope he’d be better on the evolutionary history of chordates than I am.

I’m hallucinating now and need to stop. The word you’re looking for again is petrichor.

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Fourteen Ways Wasps Are Better Than Michael Gove

1 Wasps die off in the winter. Sort of. A wasp colony will produce a lot of horny males and females in the autumn which will mate and then find somewhere to hibernate. The rest of the buggers get old and cantankerous and really, really want your jam before they die. Michael Gove has never been known to die off in the winter. Records on his autumnal sexual appetites are blissfully incomplete.

2 Wasps are pollinators. Much as it pains me to say this, wasps do serve a useful purpose. They’re not just wee, yellow and black sacks of stinging badness. They will forage for nectar and in doing so, carry pollen around like bees with bad attitudes. I’m not completely sure what Michael Gove is for, any more than he is himself but I’m certain he has never pollinated anything.

3 Wasps eat pests. Every summer, whenever they’re not ruining your picnic, wasps eat 14,000,000 tonnes of caterpillars and greenfly which would otherwise further lay waste your garden. Where do they find the time? They’re always after my ham sandwich. Michael Gove eats things from Waitrose. He’s one of the pests the wasps should eat.

4 There are innumerable cures for wasp stings. The one everyone seems to mention is goose dung. There is no know cure for Michael Gove but throwing goose dung at him might be worth a try. Failing that, the entire goose.

5 A wasp can only hurt us one at a time. Michael Gove can screw things up for millions before he’s finished his cornflakes.

6 It’s not illegal to spray wasps with a nerve agent. While spraying Michael Gove with a nerve agent might give you a few passing moments of satisfaction, it’s only a small step from that to gassing everyone who doesn’t agree with you. Even I can see that much.

7 See also hitting wasps and Michael Gove with a rolled up newspaper.

8 Wasps cannot be expected to have empathy and are only being wasps when they sting you on the bum when you’re having a wee in the countryside. Michael Gove, while he has not as far as I am aware has not stung anyone on the bum, has shown little empathy for the communities he has fucked over in his ideological slap-fest in the Conservative Party. We’re just collateral damage.

9 There are seven species of wasps in Britain varying in unpleasantness and aggression. There is one Michael Gove and he is invariably unpleasant. I think most of us could take him if he became aggressive though.

10 Wasps harbour no ambitions to become prime minister and tell us all how to live our lives. Michael Gove slipped a bit the last time he tried to shin a bit further up the greasy pole.

11 Wasps make impressive nests out of paper. They are skilled engineers and architects. They can do it by chewing up strips of wood and then spitting it out, a bit like you probably did to make pellets for your pea shooter. Am I projecting? Michael Gove has made nest for himself by chewing up facts and regurgitating them in new, curious and not entirely accurate ways.

12 The Asian giant hornet can fly at 24mph. It’s a right bastard of a thing and you can probably never outrun it. Michael Gove can’t fly, I have no idea what his 10k time is like but you can probably outrun him. I had to get running into this somehow.

13 There are social wasps and solitary wasps. There is only a solitary Michael Gove. Nobody wants to be Michael Gove’s friend.

14 Wasps come in a wide range of colours, not only the familiar yellow and black. For example, there is something called a tarantula hawk which is not a bird but is an inch and half long and blue and orange in colour. It hunts tarantulas. Fucking tarantulas. Thank little Baby Jesus it’s a solitary wasp. Michael Gove only comes in gammon colour.

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