Smells of my childhood






I'm one of those people who lives through the nose. I just love delicious smelling things. I love perfumes and incense, air-fresheners, pot-pourri and Febreze. I could spend all day at the Men's Perfume wall at Myer, and I can talk about colognes the way some bores can talk about wine. When a new men's fragrance is released I always run to get a tester and to see if it's going to be "me" or not. It almost always is.
What can I say? I'm an addict. I simply don't understand people who can't stand perfume - you might as well say you don't like food, or don't like reading. People who can exist in such states are simply incomprehensible to me. A world without beautiful, extravagantly artificial, smells would not be worth living in. I always ache for the courts of Heian Japan, when the concubines would sit around having incense smelling parties (when they weren't having moon viewing parties, or peony observing parties).
These days, of course, I get my olfactory kicks from the more expensive design houses. But I have to confess that I still love - and yearn for - the more down-market aromas of my childhood.
In a really primal way I adore the smell of Johnson & Johnson's baby powder. Poor little babies are forbidden to go near it these days, of course.
My grandmother and her sisters always smelled of Tame hair conditioner and, when going to town, Cedel hairspray. More glamorous occasions called for liberal doses of Tabu, 4711 or any of the Yardley range. My mother's generation preferred Charlie, or later the canned delights of Impulse or Australis.
And of course, we must never underestimate the influence of Avon, with its delicious scents bottled in the most extraordinary containers - boys with balloons, fan-wielding geisha and small green frogs.
Men, of course, gloried in the accumulated haze of Old Spice, Brut 33 and Blue Stratos.
Smelling any of these things is enough to plunge me all the way back to the nursery, and I secretly hope the production of them will go on forever - though I fear that Tame long ago disappeared.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Walter, I enjoyed this blog and it took me back to my childhood in country Victoria when Old Spice made my dad think he was just SO groomed, and then when Brut came along. So sophisticated!!!!. And Mum loved Tabu, and clouds of Cedel hairspray abounded after the home perms' that my mother and aunt's used to give each other. Ah memories. But the reason i looked you up was that i have just finished reading a proof of Destination Saigon, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Both my daughters travelled there last year, and they talked of some similar things. We met a few years ago, and i particularly remember a ferry ride back from Couran Cove after an ABA conference. I gather you will be at the LEB conference, but I AM NOT GOING TO DO ANY KARAOKE!!!!!!! Cheers, Heather Dyer, Domainbooks and Fairfieldbooks.

P.M.Newton said...

Lovely blog post, Walter, and so, so, SO true. My scent sense is a direct link to my memory centre.

For me it's more flower scents, particularly cestrum nocturnum - the name is redolent enough, yes? They call it Queen of the Night in India, it's also called Night-blooming Cestrum, Lady of the Night, Night-blooming jessamine, and Night-blooming Jasmine.

A blast of cestrum through a window at night and I'm transported back to the infinite summer nights of childhood, free of stress and worry.

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