Odour you remember those times gone by?

A striking towering cumulus cloud rising up to the east beyond the mouth of Papanui Inlet and Victory Beach on the Otago Peninsula. Photo: Helen Sheppard
A striking towering cumulus cloud rising up to the east beyond the mouth of Papanui Inlet and Victory Beach on the Otago Peninsula. Photo: Helen Sheppard
It's time to talk about smells.

Not necessarily bad smells, but those that for some reason or another have stuck with you.

Smell is perhaps the most evocative of the senses. A sudden whiff, sniff or waft of something can take you straight back to a time otherwise forgotten, or fill in the details of a scantily remembered event.

I was inspired to write about smell by a visitor I received yesterday.

No names, no pack drill. But her perfume preceded her arrival in my office by a good five seconds. After she left, it lingered for much of the afternoon.

I'm sure whenever I catch a hint of that perfume again - I'm not sure what it was but it may have been ''Evening in Stuart St'' - I will recall her brief stay.

It set me thinking about other aromas I've known which kick-start my nostalgia.

Whenever I catch a scent of the daphne plant, I'm transported to the spring of 1982. I'm staying at my grandparents' house and sitting in the window seat reading Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. They had a large daphne bush right outside the room and the warm sun was releasing its beautiful fragrance.

Bruce Barnett, of Taieri Beach, found this photograph of his father, Frank, recording bird song for the old New Zealand Broadcasting Service. The photo was in a 1960 school publication.
Bruce Barnett, of Taieri Beach, found this photograph of his father, Frank, recording bird song for the old New Zealand Broadcasting Service. The photo was in a 1960 school publication. Photos: Supplied
The now-defunct Cadbury factory next to the Allied Press building also used to be the source of many pleasant smells. As a young reporter here in the 1990s, I recall evening shifts and the strong scent of coconut, or orange, and was it also Turkish delight, wafting into the newsroom whenever a strong northeasterly was blowing.

For similar reasons, if I imagine the smell of a mixture of aviation fuel, diesel fumes and curry (admittedly a rather unusual combo), I am whisked back to London's Heathrow Airport, just down the road from where I was brought up.

Of course, there are unpleasant odours to be endured. Teenagers' socks, for example. We once put a pair of 15-year-old's socks in a bucket of almost undiluted Dettol at the bottom of garden and left them there for a week in an attempt to get rid of the stench. But it was in vain.

I'd love to hear about the smells which make you all nostalgic and why. Rush your responses to me.

Illegal parking

And here's the book. Is that an English Electric Lightning on the cover?
And here's the book. Is that an English Electric Lightning on the cover?
I had a letter from D. Fraser, of Caversham, the other day. It was intended for the letters to the editor column, but I thought it would be more at home here and might generate some wider discussion.

Mr Fraser is cross about the extent of illegal car-parking he has noticed in parts of Dunedin.

''Two areas where this is happening all the time are Sidey St, between South Rd and Cole St, and Pencarrow St, between Playfair St and Thorn St.

''The sign on the posts with the red circle amd cross and blue background means no stopping or parking, any time of the day or night. This is being ignored in those streets.

''In Sidey St there are vehicles illegally parked all the time, especially early morning and evenings and at weekends. Sometimes they are blocking all of the footpath, so you have to go out on to the road to get past. In Pencarrow St, only one side of the road has these signs, and it doesn't matter what time you go past, there are vehicles illegally parked.

''For two vehicles, trying to pass in this street is very difficult because the road is narrow and, with illegally parked vehicles, it is very difficult to pull over and let the other vehicle through.

''Maybe they should make the street one-way, like Rutherford St, but having it going in the opposite direction?''

Is anyone else irritated by this kind of inconsiderate or illegal parking?

Singing taxis

Colleague John Gibb kindly passed on a media release about the ''world's first sustainable taxi that you pay by singing''. It's not in New Zealand yet, but if you happened to be passing by Finland a couple of weeks ago you may have checked it out.

''Fortum Singalong Shuttle is an environmentally friendly taxi that only accepts singing as payment. The 100% emission-free rides are operated on electric cars,'' the promotional material says.

The service operated at the Ruisrock Festival. Fortum brand manager Jussi Malkia said silent electric cars made it possible to ''enjoy singing without background noise and emissions''.

Can anyone think of appropriate songs to sing? Big Yellow Taxi and Drive My Car spring to mind.

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