In this part of the world coal exists in abundance, or at least did until we mined the shit out of it, and where there’s coal, there’s usually the Whiff of Sulphur.
The mineral permeates the water tables, and since we’re all on well water, the evil-smelling Whiff of Sulphur slithers in through open taps and toilets and washing machines and makes buildings smell like the finish line at a bean-eating marathon, at least to those unaccustomed to it. I’m lucky: my home has a deep well and the water is generally untainted by sulphur. (Or maybe I just don’t notice it anymore, eh?) But my workplace is more typical: a shallow well means the Whiff of Sulphur is strongly evident upon entry, which is where I am usually situated. This being a tourist area, it’s not unusual for someone unfamiliar with the Sulphur Problem to enter the store, wrinkle their nose and cast a quick accusing glance in my direction. I roll my eyes and shrug helplessly.
So when I heard about Michael Ignatieff’s remark that Canadians could “smell the whiff of sulphur” emanating from Stephen Harper, I thought “What are you, ten years old?” I had forgotten that the Whiff of Sulphur is associated with… the devil. Which is not that far up the maturity scale from saying Stevie smells like farts, but never mind. The comment threw the National Post into a fifth-gear frenzy of indignance and outrage that prompted the ejaculation of several articles on the topic, including yesterday’s front-pager:
Yes! Yesterday was the time at the NatPo when they juxtaposed! You can see where they’re going with this sympathetic bracketing of an evil-looking Count Igula with Harpie’s rapt, um, one might even be tempted to say “angelic”, heavenward gaze. But it could also be Iggy snarling “Eww, who farted?” while Harper rolls his eyes and shrugs helplessly and says “It was Cheddar!”
Take your pick. I know how it looks to me.