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Carlisle's mystery pong; not much more news


But we can tell you a little about Alfred Austin, the Poet Laureate who is strangely little-honoured in his native Leeds

You no doubt know the famous couplet by the poet often branded – a bit unfairly – as the UK's worst Poet Laureate, Alfred Austin:

Across the wires the electric message came
He is no better, he is much the same.

That was the case in 1871 when the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII, was unwell and the British public demanded regular updating.

The same is true of the Carlisle Cheesy Smell Mystery, reported in the Guardian Northerner yesterday. The source of the pong which embraced the Border city's centre, spread by blustery winds, remains undetected.

Variously described as like cheese – the commonest comparison by some distance – rotting food, dog poo and even Marmite (the last in the comments thread of a piece in the local News & Star), the smell is still being analysed and tracked. We promised to keep you updated, but the city council hasn't anything to add, yet, to its statement after the municipal switchboard started flashing:

Our Environmental Health Service is aware of the smell affecting the City Centre but so far have been unable to locate the source. The smell may have come from agricultural, waste or food sources but appears to reducing in strength. Anybody with any information on where the smell may have originated can contact the City Council on 01228 817559.

Farms and factories are being considered, and we'll ket you know if anything transpires. In the meanwhile, in the absence of anything else to say on the subject now, here is a little more on Alfred Austin. He was born, tarantara, in Leeds! In Headingley, which was also the birthplace of Arthur Ransome, writer of Swallows & Amazons and the Manchester Guardian's correspondent in many foreign parts, including Russia during the revolution.

Austin was made Poet Laureate in 1896 after William Morris declined the job following the death of Tennyson, and there was a period of perplexity while various names were considered. Other memorable lines from his work include:

Then I fling the fisherman's flaccid corpse
At the feet of the fisherman's wife

He would have been just the man to record the Great Carlisle Smell.

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