Thinking about the town that smelled of chocolate has made me remember other scents. Childhood day trips to my favourite beaches on the Gower, holding my breath as we drove past the stinks of Llandarcy. No point really. I got a bumper dose of the stench once I gave up and breathed again. Nearer to home, the sight of dead trees promised the stink of rotten eggs when we passed the smokeless fuel plant. And then there was the burnt carrot whiff of Cardiff that I learned was beer brewing. “It’s Brains you want” as they used to say. Summer brought molten tar, always a threat my clothes.
Childhood wasn’t all bad smells of course, there was delicious baking, cut grass, the central heating – newly extended to our bedrooms, Dad’s big white hankies which smelled of leather and coins, the fresh crisp plastic of a new term’s pencil case.
And when we reached the seaside on those trips, it smelled of adventure.
And still does.
It was in the 1970s that I first discovered perfume. Aqua Manda in its chunky brown bottle, Charlie, L’Aimant. Then there was the huge (as it seemed to me then) bottle of Chanel No5, I bought on my first trip abroad. A present for my big Sis. I fretted it contravened duty allowances (I was too young to have an allocation) so persuaded a teacher to put it in her luggage.
Travel brought new and exciting scents. Kerosene and charred meat, jasmine, grilled fish and the sea, even cigar smoke which I hated at home.
And new and exciting perfume stores. Sephora, Marionnaud, Guerlain, and most recently Perfumeria Bengas in San Sebastian. Even though at that last one I bought this
rather than this.
I couldn’t blow most of my holiday money on a bottle of perfume, even if it did look and smell wonderful.
A scent can transport…
lighting one of these
can take me back here
Clearing a house, I couldn’t throw these away, but more for the bottles than their scents.
Not because the scents were bad. But apart from the “Ma Griffe” they didn’t remind me of the person they’d belonged to. Maybe they’d been kept for the memories they held?
Look inside and you might find
I pick them up at the perfume counter.
Get them sprayed with a scent I’m not going to buy.
The scent my Mum wore.
That one must be quite old.
And with the scent gone it’s just a piece of card.