photo from The Economist
Memory seems to be what perfume is about for many people: the glamour of mother before an evening out; first love; going dancing; the leaves of tomato plants in a garden. Yesterday evening’s episode of Perfume on BBC 4 dealt with the great parfumiers, the creators of memories. I was most interested in the American Christopher Brosius of I Hate Perfume. He had a client, a fervent anglophile, who wanted a perfume that summed up ‘England’. For him, this had to include the smell of wet tweed and of briar pipes. Good grief, does he want to be an Inkling? CB visited London in search of the elusive elements of Englishness only to find that since he was last there, the smells of London had changed. Taxis: no more leather seats. Pubs: no smoking. Phone boxes: no more directories. It was a revelation to see a man with a nose plunge his face into a vintage copy of a P G Wodehouse novel, inhale deeply and explain why English books smell the way they do. If anyone can conjure up the smell of old London and capture it in a bottle it must be Christopher Brosius. He should have tried Clapham Junction or the Tube.
If I could pick one smell to bring back the past, I think it would be the scent of Lupins. I had a good sniff at some in the garden centre last week and just one whiff took me straight back to my childhood garden. Which smell(s) take you back?