Saturday, 3 December 2011

In scents

In scents, get it? In sense... Incensed... incense... oh, please yourselves.

This is a niche post, of interest only to fellow 'fume addicts. It is a meme I found on one of the gazillion perfume blogs out there. I tag Basic Beauty though because she needs to post more often.

What are some of your strongest scent memories?

Leather seats in my dad’s car and Aramis aftershave. He used to pick us up at weekends. I liked visiting my dad but it also made me slightly nervous because I didn’t see him often and I felt like he didn’t know me as much as our mum did. He took us to fun places but there was also my stepmother to contend with and I had to be on my best behaviour . Also I used to get car sick very quickly. So, leather seats = excitement & nervousness. And carsickness.

Also the smell of fir trees which we had in our back garden which I used to climb.

Smoky bonfires, that smell of sparklers and gunpowder on bonfire nights.

What are some of your favourite smells (things in nature, cooking &/or your environment)?

Coffee. I wish it tasted as good as it smells. Basil, it’s from heaven. I like smoke in people’s clothes, when it’s faded a little bit. A good red wine. Brandy and whisky. This is just turning into a list of drinks, isn’t it?

Do you have any favorite smells that are considered strange?

Not really, though I am starting to like the perfumes (like some Serge Lutyens one, and one which is brilliantly named Fat Electrician) which have a kind of tarmac or diesel component to them.

I also like the smell of nitric acid, rosin, hard ground, white spirit and etching inks, because I associate them with my Happy Place (the print studio.)

Describe one or more of your favorite cooking smells.

I like the smell of the bagel bakery on Brick Lane. It’s pure warm goodness and has that childhood sensory association. I also like bacon frying shhh don’t tell anyone.

What smells do you most dislike?

Two Christmas’ ago, though the friend for whom I was house-sitting warned me that foxes liked to shit in her front garden, I stepped in some fox shit when leaving the house. Discovered that fox shit is the worst smell in the world. What must they eat? They’re absolute ANIMALS.

What smell did you first dislike, but learned to love?

Cigarette smoke. That was a bad thing.

More tomorrow, if you can bear it.

What mundane smells inspire you?

My Yorkshire tea and sometimes Earl Grey (contains the magic ingredient,bergamot, that I love in perfume too.) I didn’t know how important tea was til I ran out of tea the other day. Horrors.

What scent never fails to take you back in time and why?

Body shop apricot lipbalm (no longer in existence) takes me straight back to secondary school. Wellie boots and black plimsolls take me back to primary school.

What scents do you associate with memories of loved ones?

Aramis, Agnes B for men, vanilla pipe tobacco (yeuch.) Marijuana.

What fragrance(s) remind you of growing up?

My sister’s Chloe. Body Shop perfumes like Roma and Japanese Musk. PATCHOULI.

What fragrance(s) remind you of the places you visited on holiday?

My friend went travelling around the world, I went with her for the first two weeks and we went to Vietnam. I loved the smoky smell of fires in the streets and temples, mixing with incense burning in the little shrines. I took some incense home but it just wasn’t the same when it was in your house.

Describe a piece of sensory literature that is very magical for you.

It is in Wise Children, one of my favourite books by one of my favourite authors Angela Carter. It’s the story of identical twin girls, dancers who become stars of musical theatre. (Based on real life twins, the Dolly sisters.) They each wear Mitsouko and Shalimar as their signature scent. But Dora falls in love with Nora’s boyfriend, and persuades her sister to swap perfumes for the night so she can seduce him without him worrying about being unfaithful. It is a great love scene.

Now you.


  1. Agree fox shit. But bat shit is pretty horrendous too.

    Proustian scent memory for me is this stuff, for some reason.

  2. "The name derives from “swarf”, being the old Derbyshire engineering term for oil and grease and “ega”, as in “eager to clean”."


  3. After a night on the olbas oil this was the perfect read.
    Afraid the worst smell for me is raw patchouli. Didn't go for a job once, because the woman I'd work alongside applied it heavily.
    Have just remembered bow resin which I loved as a kid.

  4. Wish you better, Arabella. Olbas oil is quite nice, it's just the associations with being ill.

    I know! Patchouli! I didn't wear it but have been disturbed to find it's in many of the scents I love. Did you play the violin then?

  5. A freshly opened tin of Gold Block Pipe Tobacco for me. And fresh mown grass. Two stroke engine oil.

  6. I like pipe tobacco Rog - I don't know if it's still there but there used to be a shop on the corner of the market square in Norwich which sold different types of tobacco, we used to go in and have a good old sniff.

  7. I suspect it's a Tie Rack now. We do our sniffing at Primark.

  8. Napalm, but only before noon.

  9. you're right - I do need to post more often... Getting lazy!

  10. A dog that has rolled in the urine of a donkey stallion in the height of spring. It doesn't bloody wash off. And soap just overlays, revoltingly.

    Favourite smell that is considered strange. Oh yes. I did blog it once, years ago. But I don't quite have the confidence to say it outside my own blog-comfort Zone.

  11. That's one of my favourite movies LC, and he's surely one of the best ever characters.

    Yes, Bambi, show us your posts.

    Z, oh go on, we're all friends here...