The heady smell of a Bedouin tent in the desert

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by mintymcginty, Jun 12, 2006.

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  1. Hi,
    I've posted here a few times before. I'm a journalist on the Guardian [yes, say what you will] and was embedded with the Household Cavalry on Telic One. I'm now trying to write something for myself – not for the Guardian – about my time there. I can't quite get a grip on the smell of a Bedouin tent, filled with fifty soldiers and heat, heat, heat. I remember the stale sweat, the feet, the unwashed laundry but does anybody have a better olfactory recollection than I do?
    Also, the little bottles of Tabasco, they weren't with the compo, they were with the MREs right?
    I know, I should have written a diary at the time but being way out of my element then the light discipline got in the way. You live and learn.
  2. Can't help on the smell, but the tabasco sauce comes with US MREs, not British rat packs.

    More's the pity. I love that stuff.
  3. From my time at Camp Eagle, I reckon a stable of flatulant elephants would be a good approximation.

    Good drills on the light discipline by the way :D
  4. I was in Camp Eagle too. Of course the light discipline came later.
    As you can imagine I had so many things to get used to, me sleeping with fifty squaddies!, [the snores of a pack o boars, each with a punctured lung] my Thermarest bed, the food, showers, shitters, all of it so memorable. I probably should be glad the smell doesn't immediately come to mind
  5. They smelt like attics that had been sealed for many years, with the slowly drying remains of Great Uncle Bernard slumped in a corner.
  6. I did keep a diary and will search it later, but in the meantime I remember:

    The smell of Lipton's tea!

    The strange smell of the MRE heaters!

    The smell of toast in the cookhouse of the transit camp in Kuwait (near the satellite dishes - was it called Eagle?) on my way home. I hadn't smelled toast for 3 months!

    Not strictly inside the tent (at least, not until after the storm...) but I well remember the smell of the ground when it rained.

  7. The dust.
    I had a dig around some of my old kit the other day looking for something and I found my desert DPM kevlar cover - the smell of the dust on it hit me like a hammer and the memories came flooding back in HD with Dolby 5.1- very, very weird. Had to have a malt (well, that was my excuse to Mrs Foz)
  8. I remember the smell of padre christian's coffee. he brought a filter and ground coffee up to the front line. bliss.
    me walking up over the berm and coming back and the boys saying can you smell shit because i had stepped in my own. yes, i had surface laid it and before you say schoolboy error, i know
    but i remember all that.
    it's the tent smell that's the thing
  9. and lasagne......

    Lasagne was the last meal I ate before I was hit by D&V. The experience was so bad that, even 3 years later, I am unable to consider eating lasagne!!

  10. The smell was probably coming from the pish that your newspaper churns out.
  11. Perhaps you might care to read the "pish" I wrote from Telic One before you make such declarations. It's very easy to make generalisations about journalists, much the same as it is to do so about soldiers. It would be better to do neither.
  12. Minty,
    You're not in danger of "going native" are you, and coming over to the dark side? Be honest, you were more alive with the "crude and licentious" in the GIFA than at virtually any other time of your life, weren't you?
    Whilst your automatic lashing out at reptiles in general is perfectly understandable, your aim was off in the case of this particular target.

    Edited to add: Smell - think of damp canvas baked in the oven as the underlying "niff" and then overlay it with a unique amalgam of oil, stale sweat, feet and flatulance, garnish with wafts of the contents of ORP and you've just about got it.

  13. More alive in the GIFA and with more chance of becoming dead and all on the same money that I would get for writing "pish" and drinking wine down the pub.
    Thanks for the smells. I'm getting them now.
    And no more "lashing out", I should expect it by now.
  14. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Mints - recreate that Telic One experience - get in touch with your favourite Hibernian Press Officer at PJHQ and say ' Sir, please sir - can I do HERRICK ? '

    if the shirtlifting parlour pinks in dull-as-feck Farringdon Road give you the old

    ' Nah Doll - got a stringer in from [ insert name of Asiatic fleshpot about the same distance from Helmand as here] to cover it - no chance.'

    then tell them you fancy a Sabbatical.

    The British Army could do with some factual reporting of what they're actually doing out there.....I think you'd make a packet selling good copy to The Great Satan ( aka the Dirty Digger )!

    If you need a native bearer( oho,Shazbat,goodness gracious me) gizza shout - I can do that ! :D

    best of luck anyway,


    PS Muzzleflash/Anti-Reptile Sanitation Squad - Minty McGinty is (almost) Friendly her piece on Johnny Gurkha amongst others......check,check, check .
  15. Does a sh1t smugglers duffel bag come into it at all? =(