|Why is the grass of Clapham Common so green, so lush? Maybe we don't want to know...|
By 4pm today, the temperature in this part of south London topped 24 degrees, and as if by some cosmic ordination, everyone of a certain age and social inclination left their homes - their stuffy shared flats or luxury apartments - and went and sat down on the green grass of Clapham Common.
So many people went out, it looked like Brighton beach on an unexpectedly hot Bank Holiday.
Cycling past on way home , seeing all these happy souls basking in the long-forgotten warmth of London sunshine, it is so easy to be seduced - why not join them for a while, the grass looks so green.
Oh, ill-advised one. You weave your way through the little groups of people, you find your patch, you stretch out on the grass, you relax. And then it hits you - a faint but distinctly unpleasant smell, but more than a smell, it is a tang, something almost hormonal. It is also as though your skin is being touched by something bad.
You look around. Can't all these people smell this smell? Is it just me? Am I in fact the source of this pong?
Then it dawns on me: there has not been any rain for weeks. Not real, heavy rain. The last few days have been warm. But every day, hot or cold, every single day, thousands and thousands of dogs from all the houses in all the vast tracts of residential streets surrounding Clapham Common - yes, all those dogs are taken out, every morning, every afternoon, every evening, to relieve themselves on the
grass of the Common.
The solid waste from these dogs is usually removed from the Common in small plastic bags. Most of it. But the liquids - these are sprayed onto the grass and the earth, and they stay there. Including the wee of randy male dogs and on-heat bitches.
That's the smell we are all enjoying today!
The rich, doggy aroma of south west London's biggest free dog toilet.