We decided randomly to go on a ‘river date’ yesterday: packed up some picnic things – a blanket, mosquito incense coils and repellent, as they really love me this year; picked a point on a google map; went there by train ; bought a nice lunch  (quiche, olives, oranges) and a bottle of Sicilian red wine and then just sat there, dreamily, under a huge sky watching the world go by.





You can feel that it is Autumn. There is a certain clarity in the air; the clouds wispier, but grandiloquent and God- infused as an Italian Renaissance painting. Casablanca, a scent I had had my eye on for a while at Isetan Shinjuku but was thrilled to find for just at a fifth of the price at a shop in Yokohama on Sunday, was a MOST pleasing wristscape for my senses in the easy heat, as I lay back half-gazing at the huge space above me and slipped into grass-surrounded gentleness.





Can a man wear a lily? Yes he can. I wore Guerlain’s Lys Soleia for most of the summer when the salty aquatic freshness went perfectly with the ocean sun and the bliss of the school holidays. That perfume would feel wrong now, out of sync, idealistic : Casablanca is more suited to this season; very clovey , with a piquant citronellic  roseness quite reminiscent of Santa Maria Novella’s brilliant Garofano, a carnation so spicy it got pushed out of production, and which I still sometimes yearn for. Antica Farmacista’s  lily is similarly bright and ylang  ylanged to the max, with a lilian vanilla as a bed when it all comes together later like an actual Casablanca as you snuggle into your hoodie as the evening gets cooler; at other times it almost reminded me of Calvin Klein’s Eternity with its whipstreak of clean Nivea (plunging me into teenage memories of Helen, who wore that Christy Turlington icon of modern Americana  with an inimitably refined and rebellious brilliance : I can still remember her walking into the courtyard that night in Cambridge to see me in my first year  and being seized by its scintillating brandnewness as though someone had snatched and switched the air…)



Casablanca is far less demanding,  smooth: verging on holographically almost too real at first – I knew it was wrong to spray some on just before boarding a train (where it had an immediate nostril and eye-widening effect on the local populace, clearly wondering how their usual train carriage had suddenly become a florist);  the spiced creaminess of the ending delightfully soothing, as the light eventually gradually disappeared, and we watched the silence of fishermen in the reflected railway tracks and city lights mirrored in the water.






















Filed under Flowers


  1. emmawoolf

    I absolutely love this post. Hello October, and happy autumn x

    • Thanks E.

      I mean this October is still 29/30 degrees, which most people back home would consider boiling. The sun is wonderfully strong, but less swelteringly humid – yet you can definitely sense that feeling in the air I know you love.

      This year I am more pro-Autumn so far than I was last year x

  2. Tara C

    It’s 10 degrees here in Montréal; yesterday it was 5 and the prairies have already had snow. Which means the bugs have all died. 🙂 I love this time of year. Perfect perfume weather and no bugs. Plus jumpers and boots!

  3. Bob / Chicago night

    What a lovely post! The dry down echoes the opening after a deep body, with haunting photos, too!

  4. Robin

    Ahhhh. Neil!!! I was transported. Didn’t want to leave the mesmerizing world you created for us here. Your writing is so original, vivid and miraculously avoids all cliches. As usual. Duncan’s photos were the perfect supplement.

    My god, that is hot. The photos reflect that, incredibly. If I didn’t wilt entirely, I think I would happily bloom. Oddly, though, when I look again, one photo in particular, the city looming behind – those dark clustered grey highrises in a grey light, everything desaturated – looks ominous. So different than your heat-soaked creamy fragrant dream state: hard, metallic, almost nightmarish. What a whiplash double take. Brilliantly disturbing, you guys.

    • XXX

      Is it strange of me to want to share my life this way? I don’t know – when something is genuinely beautiful I find I can’t help it. And I suppose we are both drawn to the eerie lying under everything as well as the obvious beauty on the surface.

      Thanks for this Robin. x

      • Robin

        Not strange. If you weren’t drawn — compelled, really — to write about your life, ours would be the poorer. I’m always glad to get your XXXs, and glad to be able to give you responses through the ether that might give you a good feeling momentarily. Inevitably, I’m the one who owes you the greater thanks.

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