Share this article

print logo


"Roman Aromas, Tudor Odours, Victorian Vapours," Oxford University Press, $7.95 apiece.

Tired of those boring social studies textbooks?

You may want to try one of three "Smelly Old History" books published by Oxford University Press.

Scratch and sniff the five panels in each book and your nose will meet up with the scents -- or stenches -- of the past.

For $7.95 apiece, you can sniff your way through "Roman Aromas," featuring rotting heads on poles, a sweaty Celt, public urinals, spicy foods or aromatic oils from the bath.

For something more recent, "Tudor Odours" has rotting fish, an herbal plague remedy and sweaty Henry VIII in bed.

Then there's "Victorian Vapours," offering the pleasant scents of roses and chocolate, and the ghastly stink of a "multiple privy full of children" and sewage in the River Thames, which got so bad the houses of Parliament shut down.

Along with the odors are some other interesting facts you may not find in a normal textbook. For example, you may not realize that Romans washed their laundry in tubs of urine.

The books were dreamed up by Mary Dobson, a researcher on the history of disease at the University of Oxford, and had to be approved in a formal vote of publishing house delegates.

All three books have a distinctive British "flavour," but Americans shouldn't have too much trouble figuring them out. (Odor and vapor spelled with that extra "U," for instance, and references to "pongy" and "loo paper.")

The books come wrapped in plastic, and it's a good thing, too. As soon as they are opened, the odors mingle in a most unpleasant way. And unless you scratch the sniff panels with a coin, the odor of sweaty King Henry or Thames sewage will linger on your fingernail.

-- Jean Westmoore

We know that "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," by C.S. Lewis, is one of your favorite stories, and you can see an imaginative production of it at the Theatre of Youth (282 Franklin St.).

Using their voices, headdresses, dance and music, just two actors lead you through the fantasy world of Narnia, with its magic spells, hidden caves and fighting giants.

Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, and 11 a.m. Saturdays, through Aug. 16. Call 856-4410 for ticket information.

Write to Irish rockers U2 at:

4 Windmill Lane

Dublin 4


Q. Why do you need a glass over a TV? If you broke the TV glass would you still be able to see the TV?

A. On most TVs, that glass is not just a cover. It's one end of a device called a picture tube. The other end shoots beams of tiny particles called electrons at the screen. The back of the glass is coated with chemicals called phosphors. When the electrons hit these phosphors, they glow. Different phosphors glow different colors, making the picture you see. Picture tubes can't have air inside, so any hole in the glass ruins the TV.

There are no comments - be the first to comment