Due to recent warm weather, the Environment Agency has today raised the Body Odour warning level of one London commuter from ‘Severe’ to ‘Critical’. Mark Beale, a 36-year-old software engineer, catches the 17.56 London Bridge to Gillingham service each weekday, but regularly leaves his office late meaning he has to run most of the way to the station.
‘It wasn’t too bad on the old trains,’ said Mark. ‘It was always so crowded you had to stand for the first few stops, so that gave me the chance to wait by an open window so the breeze could dry me off a bit. With these newer trains, though, they might be more comfortable but the windows don’t open. That means I’ve less chance to disperse the hum before I sit down.’
Mark had also noticed that whichever carriage he was in tended to clear a lot quicker than the others in the 12-coach train. ‘I thought it was just down to picking the right place to sit. Turns out people were cramming themselves into the adjacent carriages so they could breathe more freely. When we pulled into Rochester some of the people joining the train made a bee-line for the empty seats beside me, but once they got close they simply held their noses and kept going. It appears standing next to a toilet that hasn’t been flushed for three weeks was still preferable to the odours I was producing.’
A colleague of Mark’s admitted that the problem was not limited to the commute home. ‘We’ve had to plan the desk layout at the office very carefully. Mark has ended up in the only desk that gets no direct sunlight throughout the year and is also at least 15ft away from a radiator. I have to sit next to him but the boss is very understanding and let’s me work from home a lot. Honestly, that bloke is so moist he could grow mushrooms in his armpits.’
One of the regulars on the 17.56 said the smell was not the only issue he had with Mark. ‘We’ve nicknamed him ‘The Slug’. This is due to his tendency to fall asleep with his head on the window, then to drool heavily whilst his face slides downwards.’