You’ve heard of the Richter Scale for earthquakes. You’ve heard of the Beaufort Scale, which measures gale force in Tyne Dogger Fisher German Bight. You may or may not have heard of the Fujita Scale, which measures the intensity of tornadoes. Today, I introduce you to a new scientific scale, specially designed and calibrated to measure a potentially even more destructive and terrifying force of nature. It is the Stinchter Scale. It measures the state of my feet.
Force 2: “Cracking Cheese, Gromit!” After a hard morning’s trekking, I allow my hiking boots to air while tucking into the lunchtime snacks of dried fruit and biscuits. Hiking companions ask me to pass the cheese, as it smells so tasty – but there is no cheese!
Force 3: People are starting to complain about the omnipresent odour of fromage. I have to leave my boots and socks outside the tent, hoping the mountain air will neutralize the smell. When the wet-wipes are passed out, I am handed a double ration.
Force 4: Cheddar, after several days lying in the corner of the kitchen, in a plastic bag full of unwashed laundry, takes on this odour. Small children run from the room. Travelling companions politely edge away to the other end of the train seat.
Force 5: A finely matured Roquefort or Stilton. Continental types uncork bottles of Burgundy and allow them to breath, mixing with the heady aroma. Perfect after a meal in Provence.
Force 6: Cheese gives way to the unmistakeable odour of freshly smoked kippers. Northumbrian fishermen break out the brown ale and ask for a little dishy. Small children dance for their daddies and sing for their mammies.
Force 8: Anaerobic fermentation sets in. Passers-by gag at fifty paces. The European Union passes an amendment instructing me to Pasteurize my feet.
Force 10: My feet are the incarnation of the god Shiva, legendary Hindu deity of destruction. Mountains crumble into the sea. Volcanoes erupt. Cities spontaneously ignite into conflagrations, their populations streaming in panicked masses over the plains. There is much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Armageddon is here, and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the blasted landscape with clothespegs on their noses, laying waste to humankind. Jehovah’s Witnesses look smug.