There is an awful ‘pong’ hanging over our part of the city. It has been growing in intensity all day long and there is a distinct yellow tinge to the atmosphere.
It is a mysterious odour, quite unlike the usual 'niff' that wafts occasionally over our suburbs, from the vehicle choked city center. This is obviously much more serious and neighbours gather in consternation, clutching their noses. Blame is soon directed at the bustling seaport of Rotterdam, situated ‘half an hour down south’, with its major league industry terrains and warehouses.
Wad de yer dink dat stink is? Don’t doe. Its cubbing over from Dotterdam harbour. D’yer dink zo? Smells like sulphur…’n smoke! Sloke? Oh doe! Not sloke! Anudder warehouse or container on fire, or mebbe a ship? A ship? Hope not, dat’ll go up like a bum! Bum? Yeah...you doe, BOOM!
We frown and choke and hurry home to slam windows and bring in washing. There are no birds in the trees and no breeze disturbs the heavy, yellowish air. My eyes are smarting and I hurry back with a neighbour to her house to turn on the local television channel. There is no mention of anything amiss and so we phone the local fire station and the council in search of an explanation. Our wheezing anxiety is met with assurances that 'dere is nudding to worry about’ – which of course means that there is.
The fetid air is with us all day and well into the evening and impossible to keep out of our homes. Like many others, I gasp and choke my way through dinner and divert myself with thinking back to the past - and the years I lived in the farming Dutch countryside, with its continuous stench of bovine excrement….(ugh…). I can honestly say with hand on heart, that given the choice between an occasional dose of burning sulphur and a daily infusion of stinking cow poo…...dere’s doe contest!