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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