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.