Tag Archives: perception

How do you find a smell?

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.



Kitchen windowWoke this morning to another sprinkling of snow in London. Probably more outside of town, but haven’t checked yet. Not much but clearly it came down through the early morning when there were fewest people about so it’s thicker than it would have been if it had come down at 4pm.

But my first reaction was “Blimey, this is going on for a long time.” (the current weather pattern of cold and snow)

And then I thought “Hang on, isn’t this what winter’s *supposed* to be like?” We’ve become so accustomed to having only a few individual days of snow that having a prolonged cold snap with associated precipitation feels out of the ordinary. It’s the corollary of “Oh, we had a sunny day, that’ll be our summer then!”.

But didn’t it used to be like this all the time? Why shouldn’t winter have a fortnight or so of snow and ice? Has anything actually changed here? Why is this so important? And so, yet again, I’m left wondering whether it’s the world that changed or that my dislocation is a result of warped perception. Is it them or is it me? Usually the answer to that question is… errrr… yes it’s me so forget it, ignore what I just said and let’s get on.