The nose might seem like a modest, unimpressive organ - even occasionally annoying when you get a cold - but I heard something on 720 ABC radio this morning that made me appreciate anew the little nub of cartilage that sits in the middle of my face.
The nerve cells of the nose possess the remarkable ability to repair themselves. Imagine that! This means that if our sense of smell is damaged by odours, chemicals, etc, new nerve cells will grow so our brain will continue to receive those vital impulses which tell us our neighbour’s fired up his barbeque.
Living where I do, my nose’s amazing ability is a mixed blessing. Certainly this morning on my journey down our building’s stairwell to the outside world, I was regretting it was so indomitable – someone had once again used the fire escape exit as a public toilet and I promise you, after a night spent permeating through the unventilated well, the stink is truly dizzying.
Anti-social behaviour and street lights
At least in the Woodson’s Building (where I live), we’re pretty secure against anything that can’t creep under doors. I was speaking to a near neighbour yesterday, and she regularly has to put up with the drunk and deranged vaulting over her fence at night. The problem has been made even worse by the fact that all our street lights – every single one – have been out of order for almost three months.
My poor neighbour has been politely asking the City of Fremantle when the problem will be fixed and has got exactly nowhere. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this kind of inaction and passivity is unfortunately the rule rather than the exception.
Since hearing that story, and then having my faint hope that I could look forward to building up some kind of immunity to the smell in our stairwell dashed, I’ve been thinking about anti-social behaviour. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about what’s not being done. Simple, painfully obvious things, like having operating street lights in known hot-spots.
What is being done?
Over 12 months ago, I sent an email expressing my concern about anti-social behaviour to Council after my wife and I were accosted not once but three separate times on the same evening by violent louts as we walked the 100 metre stretch from the Cappuccino Strip to our front door at 6.30pm on a Friday.
“I sympathise,” was the response, “but we’re addressing the problem – we’ve formed a working group.”
My wife snorted and immediately started surfing eBay for legal alternatives to pepper spray, but I felt mildly heartened. 12 months on, and with the situation rapidly deteriorating, I have to admit she’s been proved right.
I’ve got news for the City of Fremantle: forming working groups isn’t getting results. Sure, they have their place. But in many cases Fremantle’s working groups seem to be being deployed as a tactic to give the appearance of progress and appease unhappy residents, without the necessity of any actual activity. I’ve been a member of one, and I’ll discuss my experience in a later post.
To conclude, here's my last interesting snippet on the nose: its amazing, regenerative nerve cells are being used by Professor Alan Mackay-Sim in trials to treat and even possibly reverse spinal injuries - which just goes to show the importance of never underestimating the potential of little things to fix big problems.
Afterword: click here for more info about Professor Alan Mackay-Sim and the amazing nose.