I woke up through a tunnel of nightmares on Saturday morning and opened my eyes. Duncan had gone in to work for the opening ceremony of the school year; I had to get myself together for the evening’s performance.





Meeting Lona in a park to practice our moves, described with great precision by D in his notes (almost impossible for a person like me, who possibly has dyspraxia – a horrific clumsiness, as any of my friends or family members would vouch: a virtual lack of coordination and spatial awareness (which is why I would never drive – it would lead to death))     ……….I can’t even remember one part of dance choreography, nor get left and right correctly)) We nevertheless went through the instructions, like Japanese junior high school students doing their hip hop routines unselfconsciously in municipal areas for hours, to get them right







D then eventually turned up, reeking of, and drenched in, Rose Jam by Lush, a perfume I know he hates, passionately (when he hates a perfume there is always a visceral revulsion and rejection which begs the question why on earth he was wearing this sticky, Turkish rose, geranium and honey perfume that is like plunging your tongue into dollops of sickly sweet Russian rose jam in rice pudding smeared on somebody’s body)………………….well, the piece, based on an inscrutable poem called The  Promenade Of The Damned, had we, the handmaidens – though I felt somewhat more Anglo-Saxon than ancient Greek, more like a disrobed courtier from Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite – burning candle wax onto his laurelled head, and rose petals (drenched in Nahema); blowing glitter (he is still sparkling this morning); we came on bearing a pictorial representation of the sun, and a hand (Icarus), and rakes on either side, a bit grim reaper::  you could feel a slight hush and murmur in the audience as the first bit of visual stimulation of the night changed the sphere; ;;;;D coming in in a chameleon’s head and doing a slow motion flight towards being burned (and he had wanted a literal rose scent to augment the feeling in the room, seen a perfume with rose in the name back home as he panickedly tried to get his things together in the suitcase and come up to Tokyo, having forgotten, somehow (I never would have) that this was a perfume, that for him (and me, actually – just too potent and cloying), is very, very wrong. 






In England I had secretly scented his coat with two perfumes: on the collar, too much 1899 by Histoires De Parfums, an aromatic spice very redolent of fresh tobacco (in homage to Ernest Hemingway), one of a few perfumes I bought there, for D, as he loves tobacco perfumes, the other being a lavender for my mother, and a full bottle of Fragonard’s delectably lascivious amber, Reve Indien, which out shalimars Shalimar in its civety richness (gorgeous); I had also borrowed Daphne’s Santa Maria Novella Patchouli for radio interviews and surreptitiously lined his coat with it, at the base, at the back.  Now this is a classic patchouli, brilliant, tightly made, but it did, on this woollen coat, smell pungent as hell, and still continues to do so; right now, the earthy, musky scent of the entrails of patchouli in its driest death throes trails him like a long unwashed hippie, the balsams of the 1899 still lingering like sex on dirty sheets; the cloying erotica of his detested rose jam almost making me quite embarrassed last night, post performance, as we tried to find somewhere to eat : nowhere would have been suitable, I knew this: people in restaurants would have been repelled by how strong we smelled – – – – I had also rather overdone the Nahema – we smelled like an orgy of roses and dirt musk, most definitely enigmatic and troubling; but also, quite possibly, quite disgusting.


















Filed under occasionally sickening scents, postcards from the edge, Rose perfumes


  1. Dyspraxia! Feeling like one’s limbs are askew, not knowing where a body part is in The Matrix, meaning for a foot to go there but the hand went here.

    Oh, I am so bloody glad you write, and that I found you.

  2. From now on, whenever I am suffering through a wearing of something that I hate, I will have a ceremonious title for the experience — “the Promenade of the Damned!!!” (I’m so extra that somehow adding that bit of flourish will make the situation substantially more tolerable) 🙏❤️💫

  3. OnWingsofSaffron

    My Promenade of the Damned: “Fleur poudrée de musc” by Les Néréides. It’s like some hag from Macbeth opened her mouth and spewed the vilest vapours over you. Good Lord, just imagine some hapless, spruced up Japanese being subjected to it…

  4. Robin

    If your writing in the book is anything like this, you will go to a second printing by the end of the month.

    I’ve tried to order it from Canada but they’re waiting for stock, it would appear.

    . . . (still sparkling this morning) . . . . . . the entrails of patchouli . . . enigmatic and troubling; but also, quite possibly, quite disgusting.


  5. OnWingsofSaffron

    Halitosis captured via enfleurage or by witches spell—

  6. MrsDalloway

    I like that the algorithm is suggesting your review of Hermès Myrrhe Eglantine etc as a related post.

  7. Tara C

    I could never wear Rose Jam as a fragrance, but I do enjoy smelling it briefly as I wash myself with the shower gel. I guess I only like it in homeopathic doses. It is quite cloying and nauseating over time.

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