It was my first Christmas in the new flat: temporary accommodation following my separation from my first wife. I had been advised by my divorce lawyer to move into a flat to suit my needs, as I had been sofa hopping for a while, having moved out of the house.
It was a really nice bachelor flat. As I discovered later, the landlord only wanted to rent these flats for a few months while the tennants searched for more suitable accommodation. My neighbours were both men in the same position as me awaiting settlements following divorce.
This was my first Christmas after the breakup. Fortunately I was not alone. My new partner would be joining me for the festive season. The flat, nice as it was, was not really furnished to my taste, so I went looking for some decorations to chher the place up. I decided on a real Christmas tree. Dragging it in from the car and planting in a bucket with soil from the neighbours garden, gathered after dark.
All was looking really festive as I welcomed my new partner for the holidays. We settled in for a cosy Christmas, having bought all the necessary goodies for the few days of rest and relaxation. The tree was hung with a few ornaments I had bought from the supermarket. A long string of beads which sparked in the lights and looked very festive.
On the first evening we noted a rather strange smell, once the tree was lit. At first I suspected the lights. The nose test revealed nothing. Then the soil was suspected, but no real evidence there. On the second evening the smell was worse. It smelled a bit like cat’s wee. So the soil was changed the following morning. The neighbour having gone away for Christmas. That evening the smell was still there and if anything worse than before. Everything on, in and around the tree was tested with the nose. Friends were invited to sniff and track down the odour but to no avail. In the end by Christmas day the tree had to go. Out it went into the back yard, decorations remained strung along the walls.
The smell remained! Was the tree still giving off the foul odour from the yard? No, the smell was definitely in the room. The following morning all seemed fine. The smell only came once the lights were on. I now suspected the wiring in the flat and asked the landlord to come and see if he could track it down. I was concerned lest the whole place went up in smoke while we were sleeping. He could offer no explanation but he thought the smell was coming from the decorations hung on the walls. This finding offered a new line of investigation. My partner and I sniffed each decoration in turn. With lights off no smell was detected. Once lights were on the smell began to be present.
What was going on? Well, it took us another day to work it out. The string of beads was found to be the cause. I went back to the shop where I bought them and discovered that they were made of some sort of plastic which when warm gave off a pungent smell not unlike cat’s wee. Naturally there was no warning from the shop. Maybe in Korea, where I discovered they were manufactured, it adds to the festive enjoyment. Perhaps in that country cat’s wee is a perfume worn on special occasions? I don’t know having never visited! But I still wonder if people are walking around in Seoul, smelling gloriously of cat’s urine. Nice!🌲🌲🌲🙀