If you want to see what it looks like on the other side of the world you can look at a picture.
If you want to find out the history of a building you can read a book.
If you want to hear what it sounds like in the jungle you can listen to a recording.
But, what does it smell like?
In the film Good Will Hunting, there is a famous monologue…
“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel……”
That part of the speech has always stayed with me and one day I hope to visit the Sistine chapel and get a good nose full.
One place I can never expect to visit is the moon. I’ll never get to smell what the moon smells like – but then I thought that no-one else could either. I mean, even if your lucky enough to walk on the surface, you’re still in a space suit with a helmet and breathing air that you bought with you, right?
But then I heard someone talking on a daytime TV show. They had interviewed someone who had walked on the moon and the guy had said that he was bored with all the usual questions. The interviewer asked him what he’d like to be asked, and he replied that no-one had ever asked him what the moon smells of. The interviewer laughed and said that this was a trick question, because no-one could take a sniff when they were on the surface of the moon, but the astronaut replied that when he came back to the space ship and came through the airlock, he took off his suit and it was covered in dust – and he had smelled that. ‘What did it smell of?’ the interviewer asked. ‘Rusty buckets in the rain’ he replied.
I may never see a rusty bucket again without wanting to sniff it and think about what the moon smells of.