|Excellent drain cleaner
Here is my life in perfume:
The first ever bottle that I owned was in the late 60s when my gran died. As my mum and dad cleared out her house, I was handed a tiny dark blue bottle - Evening in Paris. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, tiny and ultra-sophisticated. I was also handed a black moleskin jotter, with an elastic band round it - for my endless writing. As the house was emptied round about me, I picked up a pencil and began my novel: About the ghost of a motorcyclist that haunts the heroine and they fall in love.
I think I must have been watching The Ghost and Mrs Miniver or something. I never made it past the second page of my new moleskin lined book with that book. A dangerous writing precedent was thus set. Today I could write a novel called: 'My Greatest Starts To a Novel'.
The bottle had a teeny tiny midnight blue rubber stopper (maybe the original silver lid was lost?) and I recall the excitement of managing to pull the stopper out and attempting to sniff the tiny puddle of perfume inside. I raised my tiny nose over the tiny rim...... and 'bleaurgh*! I think it may have been the first time I dry-retched too.
FACT: Evening in Paris, probably pre-war - smells worse than haemorrhoid cream tastes.
I then moved on to the heady fragrances of the 70s - Charlie was the first proper fragrance that I was ever given. Mercifully, I seem to have blotted out how it actually smelled, but I remember bathing myself liberally in clouds of it before going to the Countdown Disco to dance to 'Don't Blame it on The Sunshine' and drink loads of Coca-Cola.
At one of these discos, I 'scored' with a chap whom I knew from school, but I didn't really like very much - let's call him Andy. Well, I liked him, but I didn't fancy him. I remember doing that a lot back then - being pathetically grateful for any chap's interest. Except Iain Robertson. He used to tease me mercilessly until I would walk home from school weeping into my blazer. With hindsight, I think he fancied me. But calling someone 'poxy pollock' wasn't going to get you anywhere near my M&S bra straps. Still won't.
Many years later, I saw on the front page of our local paper that a chap with the VERY same name as Andy and the very same age, was up on paedophile charges..... If it's him, I think that might go down in history as my VERY worst boyfriend, don't you?
|You can almost smell the Indian Subcontinent off me!
After uni, it was Estee Lauder's White Linen and Private Collection. My girlfriend Seona and I used to use our mothers' perfume and it was not unheard of us to climb into the back of a taxi to the Pink Panther and the poor taxi driver had to wind down his window to breathe.
A light veil of scent was not our preferred modus operandi. Shock and Awe was.
We slapped people around the head with it. Flies dropped out of the sky dead, so powereful was our scent. We aimed to render young men sufficiently unconscious to drag them back to our table where we consumed vast amounts of Tequila Sunrise and tried to have our evil way with them.
This stun and drag technique worked with a modicom of success and thus gave me a taste for strong perfume I bounced from the throat-closing heaviness of Obsession to the cloying play-dough of Poison right through to to the dark chocolate-boxy Paloma Picasso (I still have an unopened bottle in the bathroom cabinet).
My working life on the mainland was characterised by a pathetic attempt to smell like people I admired. Not celebrities, but friends. Perfume was a way to be somebody. To project something about yourself to others by scent. I am an advertising man's dream. I WANT to buy into their fantasy world: 'Own this scent and you WILL be standing on the Eiffel tower with Justin Timberlake by your side'.
I can't tell you how many times I tried Aromatics Elixir because I adored it on other people and yet, on me, it smelled....not vile....but different. Not nice. I've finally accepted that my body chemistry doesn't like it. Nor does it like Angel. I ended up smelling like a teenage boy's sports bag wearing that. All very disappointing.
During those heady days of working with a slew of mad but wonderful veterinary surgeons and nurses, I tried Green Tea, Caleche, and Clarin's Eau Dynamisante before settling on Chanel No: 5. This was, I concluded, a real perfume. I have owned it as EDT and Parfum and it has been an abslolute star in my perfume stable. Nothing makes me feel quite as in control of myself as a bottle of Chanel's masterpiece standing on my dressing table. It is my grown up talisman.
But sometimes a girl can weary of a fragrance, just as she can a kind but boring lover, and I have had flirtations and the odd overnight in a hotel with Origins Ginger Essence and even some Jo Malone (Pomegranate Noir).
One of the most enjoyable hours I have spent was in Penhaligons in Glasgow (now defunct) where I was escorted through lots of perfumes based on my former scent-loves. We were not allowed to see the boxes but just to go on the scents themselves. At the end, I settled for one that I thought was me - Mahalabra and, while I don't wear it every day, I am reminded of the wonderful fun I had choosing it every time I scoot it into the air and walk under it. If they still do these escorted wanders through their perfumes, I'd strongly recommend it. But don't look at the boxes - you will be amazed at how the design and colours of scent boxes can push and pull you!
These days I am drawn to things that smell of white flowers or freshness - Origin's Ginger Essence and, yes, Eau Dynamisante. Almost back to the beginning.
But never, EVER Evening in Paris.
What about you?
*Tartarus = the deepest, darkest pit of hell ;-)