Often, if I’m out in town, I will catch a whiff of something nice. Some cologne or perfume or something that transports me to a happy warm childhood place or an image of someone or something or just a feeling of rightness, a rightness that isn’t there all the time. And I think wouldn’t it be nice to smell that more often.
But how do you find a smell? Even if it’s a mass-produced thing that you can find behind the counter in Debenhams, how would you start? How does this happen? I’ve never done it. I can remember buying after-shave perhaps once or twice in my life and then it was always pretty random. Oh yes, that one will do.
I know there’s a vocabulary, “lemony”, “sharp”, “tweedy”, “high notes”, “musky” etc. but I’m not sure what they really mean – they can only be subjective can’t they? There’s one that reminds me of a playgroup I went to more than forty years ago – how do I communicate what that is? I know it when I smell it but I can’t conjure it up in the same way as I can say, the smell of cut grass. It’s just out of reach. When I come across something I like, I want to say to someone, “what’s that smell? How would you describe it? Do you know what brand it is?” but that wouldn’t go down well on the Waterloo & City Line at 08.51 on a crisp Thursday in February.
I don’t like it. I don’t like writing about blogging, but sometimes it needs to be done to be cleared out of the way. If I write on paper about writing on paper that seems OK because it’s only here on my table and it might just go in the bin or in that file of many ideas not quite finished enough.
I’m angry about it. I’m angry about the way we, me too, I have let it slip away, have let others take the form and make it more like what they wanted to do in the first place. And then decided that I needed to fit in with that. We’ve made our newspapers into gigantic blog-like content machines, but none of them have much of the spirit of the people who write them, they’re just self-serving self-obsessed web-borgs.
A real person is in here, behind this screen, behind these words you’re reading. With all the ups and downs and back and forth and painfully, oh jesus, p-a-i-n-f-u-l-l-y slow learning about life and how to do it and who I might be and how not to be who I’m not.
But even I’ve forgotten that and started to believe that what I write here needs to be a certain way, needs to deliver “my message” to “my audience”, get more hits, trigger more likes, avoid feelings, avoid criticism. It doesn’t. And it seems I need reminding of that every now and then. Maybe you do too.
All right, thanks for listening, go back to what you were doing.