The sweet smell of stating the blindingly obvious

I could have told the academics for nothing that men have a lower pain threshold than women

Share
Related Topics

Write this down; it could be important. Gender is a variable, which should be taken into account in the treatment of pain. On second thoughts don't bother. It's only the result of one of those daft research projects whose sole purpose as far as I can see is to keep a bunch of otherwise redundant academics gainfully employed. In this respect I'm of the same opinion as Senator William Proxmire from Wisconsin who initiated the Golden Fleece award in 1975 for the looniest and most expensive piece of academic research. One of the winners was a PhD from a psychology graduate (they're always psychology graduates) from the University of North Carolina who produced a treatise to show why people don't like queuing.

I presume his research didn't extend to the UK. The British thrive on queues. If you've ever listened to that schmaltzy programme on Sundays where listeners phone Simon Bates to tell him how they met their partners, you will know that an alarming amount of British marriages is made not in heaven but in queues. Doubtless academics are already researching that one.

Anyway, to get back to the pain project, a couple of professors called Serge and Pierre from the University of Quebec rounded up 20 men and 20 women, sat them down in a laboratory with their hands in hot water and got them to sniff various smells – flowers, vinegar, almonds, etc – to see which, if any, reduced their pain. Sorry, I forgot to mention that the 40 guinea pigs were all experiencing some kind of pain. The article in New Scientist didn't specify precisely what pain nor, come to think of it, the significance of the hot water. Maybe they had dirty fingernails.

Here's what those doughty scientists discovered. The sweet smells – the flowers and the caramel – alleviated the women's suffering, whereas the foul smells – the vinegar, the rotten eggs, the cheap after-shave – intensified their discomfort. Meanwhile, the men, impervious to both foul and fair odours, kept on suffering and I dare say complaining. So what's new?

If Serge or Pierre had taken the trouble to ask me I could have told them for nothing that men have an appreciably lower pain threshold than women. Look at footballers – one scratch and they're stretchered off. A month before she was due to make blinis, beef stroganoff and all the trimmings for the 130 wedding guests we had last weekend, Susi B the caterer fell backwards down a flight of stone stairs and was rushed to the nearest intensive care unit with multiple fractures and possible brain damage. She would be there for at least two weeks, the doctors advised, and after that another three months recuperating. Not a bit of it. Susi was up and running five days later and within a fortnight producing tray-loads of canapés for corporate functions.

Modesty forbids me from revealing the many occasions when, crippled with chronic pain, I've soldiered on. What's more, I now realise, in the light of this new research from Quebec, that I have soldiered on despite impossible odds in the shape of our septic tank – compared to whose pestilential emissions the crumbling sewage system of Old Baghdad is a bed of roses.

I think I've told you about my septic tank before. We don't have main drainage in the cottage; no one has round here. At social gatherings we compare septic tanks. Most people have the old-fashioned soakaway model like ours, though I have heard that someone down the road has just installed a mini sewage system electrically powered that delivers drinking water at the other end. The trouble is we are on solid clay and with weather like this it isn't easy. "You must top up your bacteria input,'' advised a neighbour. "Chuck in some old Camembert or a few dead rats.''

I have more ambitious plans. I once visited a power station in Suffolk fuelled by chicken manure. Last week I read that the first power station to run on cow dung has just opened in Devon. By the way, a cow burps 218 litres of methane gas every day. Why not kill two birds with one stone; namely eliminate the smell by erecting a small power station next to my septic tank. Just think, no more electricity bills, no more smells, just roses all the way.

This morning friends from Hong Kong came to stay. I saw their noses twitch as they passed the septic tank. I could have rushed them in, steeped their hands in hot water and waved leftover wedding cake under their noses. Forget the power station – just give me sunshine, please.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement