I had promised myself I wouldn’t write anything today as I am feeling mind-wiped, but seeing this just-out-in-Nippon release in Takashimaya ( a take no prisoners, self confidently fresh and sharp mandarin tuberose neroli that she would never wear in a million years though I might ),  I am simply putting this up to pique the amusement of my best friend Helen – who is anything but heartless










– though she can be severe and cut to the core and tell it like it is because she seems to understand me better than possibly anybody else: a soul twin, telepathic understanding that, though we speak far too little ( as we are both lazy and crap ) we know, as long as we remain intact, we will always have.







( the picture above is H giving me a pep talk before my Perfume Lovers London talk of 2014 ….. god how time so quickly flies……)









Helen has talked me through many a difficult situation: like my mother (in the earthquake, my operation, both were amazing ) they tell me just the right combination of reality and boost. A hotwire to my sensibility;  fraternal umbilical straight to my fevered, potholed  brain.













We are also both hypochondriacs. So god knows how she would feel being here where I am today, in Yokohama,; the biggest China Town in all of Asia, where a cruise ship is quarantined off shore walking distance from where I have lessons with passengers coming down like flies with the coronavirus, and where, as you can see, masks are selling out and there is a very uneasy feel in the air – as there is globally – as people are wondering what to believe, and whether they are over or underreacting; where being on packed trains feels unpleasant and dangerous, and where tempers get frayed —





– —- my ragged own, especially ( I had an argument with my closest Japanese male friend on the bus earlier this afternoon. about a common colleague who was espousing theories the other day about only the ‘weak’ being in danger of contracting the virus and being very arrogantly ‘unconcerned’ about the illness –  —- so would that include me, then?  having had very serious pneumonia in my left lung twice before ; I didn’t like the almost Nietzschean Ubermensch implications of what he was saying (and what of the immune stressed sleep deprived students, just before the most important exams of their lives ?); my friend said it was a linguistic misunderstanding: I responded with something below the belt about the man’s appearance…., oh when I get on the defensive I can be very venomous ; bile slips from my tongue with slippered ease.,..  …. never mind Heartless Helen; it is more like Noxious Neil (so should I wear the partner in the set, then  : the devilish and dastardly woody tobacco scent, Terrible Ted? )






No : I think Helen would suit me much better : we need proud nosegays in these pestilential times; bright flowers (Penhaligons calls this a ‘fearless conquistador’), and everybody knows that I love oranges.  don’t think about it, H would say, rationalize, hone in to the very best perspective; reverse or brake my hysteria  —-   ———- or at the very least, just try and  steer me towards a more pacified lucidity










































Filed under art and politics, autobiography, B0RN TO BE TROPICAL, Bitch, Flowers, FUCK EVERYTHING, I really do have a bad feeling about all of this, incomplete perfume reviews, inexplicable happenings, Japan, JAPAN PHOTOGRAPHY, LUXURIANCE, Neroli, neurotic meltdowns, occasionally sickening scents, PERFUME AND PERFORMANCE, postcards from the edge, pretentious aesthetes, Psychodrama, Rare, religious hatred and death, SCANDAL, SELF-OBSESSION, this is not a perfume review, Tuberose, Uncategorized, Urine, Vietnam travelogue, when an artist spins in his grave, Writing

20 responses to “HEARTLESS HELEN by PENHALIGONS (2019)

  1. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Even in the eve of catastrophe you are mesmerizing sickingly elegant in picture and prose.
    I was wondering already about Corona and you in the neighbourhood: existing in the eye of danger!

    As we say here in Holland: I tuck a heart under your belt!!
    Apres nous le deluge

    • xx

      My mum has always said I am a complete drama queen and I suppose it is true : I just
      love fucking plugging in directly to the pulse ( especially with totally random, but real connections to perfume, even if here it is purely the name – the scent is quite fine, a touch sickly perhaps as it lingers – and definitely not worth paying 275 pounds for – that triggers the entire impulse).

      But I HAD just smelled it. And then gone into a discount store and photographed the sign about masks that I can’t deny did slightly freak me out.

      People are so PASSIVE here in Japan. Who knows what the reality of the situation actually is ? Obviously it is nothing remotely as terrible as Wuhan in China, which seems apocalyptically awful according to some sources

  2. matty1649

    Keep safe, Neil and of course Duncan X

  3. Now I want Penhaligon’s to issue a fragrance called Noxious Neil! I’m sorry this virus is alarming so many people. I don’t know what kind of information you get in Japan about things like coronavirus, but here in the US, the Centers for Disease Control have lots of good information online, here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html. They are emphasizing that flu is still by far the biggest threat in the US and many developed countries, and that people who haven’t gotten a flu vaccine yet should do that. Some doctors are recommending also getting a pneumococcal vaccine against pneumonia for certain vulnerable groups. We are also being told that hand hygiene is as important as always for preventing the virus’ spread, with a preference for soap and water over hand sanitizer. Over the counter masks are said to be effective for sick people to wear, as they contain coughs and sneezes; apparently much less so for well people to wear to avoid illness, because so much transmission happens via one’s own hands. Gloves might make more sense, I guess. We’ll all just have to keep calm and carry on, but the news stories are alarming.

  4. Tara C

    I’ve been reading on this scientific website that based on data from cases outside China (which is more easily verified) the coronavirus is not expected to be extremely virulent and deadly. http://paulherscuepidemics.blogspot.com/

    I personally am not concerned, despite being germophobic in general, I believe in fate. I wash my hands a lot and hope for the best.

    • I haven’t worn a mask yet, believe it or not ( D bought a few in advance ). I have also read a LOT too, believe me – but definitely don’t know what is fact. I mean there are 3700 people on board the ship: 270 have been tested – those already confirmed with the virus are in hospitals in this city – and the government is ‘wondering whether’ to test the other passengers on board.



      I mean the government has only very recently tourists from Wuhan. The whole of February we had millions of visitors as it is one of the most popular times to visit. The incubation period is up to 2 weeks and there are a lot of asymptomatic carriers ( obviously not ‘weak’ people ….)

      Presumably though, the mortality / fatality rate isn’t incredibly high as there hasn’t actually been a total pandemic yet here (unlike Wuhan); it is generally being said to be about 2%, although I saw another estimate at 16%…

      I remember the Japanese government assuring us that everything was fine after the earthquake ; there was no radiation etc, whereas western sources were wildly exaggerating everything : on the whole people here are pretty level-headed and no one is panicking. However yesterday I most definitely have a slight sense of dread….

  5. Another thing that is impossible to put into place: doctors are saying that people shouldn’t take crowded public transport and avoid the rush hour; that there needs to be a metre between you and another person…..but this is IMPOSSIBLE for anyone like me who needs public transport to get to work and back. I am packed in like sardines with people sniffling and sneezing….it is a nightmare.

  6. Perfume sounds lovely, name not so much.
    Your acquaintance remark about only weak people falling ill sounds incredibly ignorant, such a foolish comment. While those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk, anyone could fall ill.
    You and D stay safe and wash your hands continuously. Wear gloves as well. I wear my leather gloves all winter long. No germs for me.

    • Thanks Brielle. Is this creating much of a stir yet in the US? The fact that it ISN’T, in my workplace, disturbs me.

      • There are some cases here, but you know muricans, they just get another excuse to be bigoted towards Asian people☹️
        I’m surprised Japan isn’t taking it much more seriously. Especially since they have confirmed cases. Well, hopefully it will remain contained over there.

  7. I phrased that incorrectly. That the cases in Japan will be contained and not spread.

  8. Phew, that’s a relief. I am glad this isn’t a public declaration of my failings as a friend. Although I do want to assure you that I am not like Trump, needing to see myself mentioned by name before I will read something! I have not missed a single BN post.

    I love your phrase ‘soul twins’, nothing else covers it. It is a good job too, because we are as you say, lazy and crap (but I would also add very busy to the list of excuses).

    What an odd name for a perfume though. Regardless of the ‘heartless’ bit, I don’t consider Helen to be in any way glamorous as a name, so it seems an odd choice.

    On the matter of hyperchondria, I don’t think you have anything on me. Regardless, I have confidence in your physical resilience. Despite, or maybe because of, the previous pneumonia I feel that you are too stubborn to be killed off. You will do all that you can and should, masks ?, hand washing, sanitiser, lots of walking in the fresh air, powerful essential oils and lots of health giving foods, just don’t undermine it all with too much boozing!

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