I love a cheap niche bargain, where I can enjoy the smell of a contemporary perfume without the familiar feeling that it wasn’t worth the money. Just to use at my leisure without thinking too hard. Perk up my collection a bit (these days, precious vintage perfume sources are very much on the decline here in Japan compared to when I first came here…….mere unicorns). Occasionally, certain ‘recycle shops’ in Yokohama or Tokyo do have some unwanted goods from upmarket department stores though, and I get a real kick when I can get one at a fifth (or sometimes even less) of the retail price.

I also like it when a citrus perfume has one of those bottles you can unscrew, with just the spray dangling into the liquid and you can add more essential oils if you feel like it: while Tokyo Bloom, a green floral musk I wrote about recently is fine as it is and will be used as such, Limon De Cordoza, though quite nice – what I call a ‘depressed citrus’ in the manner of Eau De Rochas – (lemon and white neroli with a patchouli and vetiver undertone with a peculiar ‘freesia’ note I found initially a little off-putting) – I also found it a little bit thin: Ungiving. I needed more zest. And I needed more vetiver: so added great amounts of lemon, bergamot, yuzu, grapefruit, and a hefty proportion of my favourite vetiver essential oil , and voila – a scent I have been wearing the last couple of weekends: sharp, fresh at the beginning and and slightly perplexing, even enigmatic by the end. Good, psychologically, to ward off invisible viruses. A posey of lemons.



On the subject of the weird times that we find ourselves in and ‘radical remixing’, I must say I had a very bad end to the week (which probably comes through in the rather sluggish and uninspiring tone of this post, sorry).

While Prime Minister Abe, in a desperate attempt to boost his ratings and stave off a coronavirus epidemic big enough to cancel the Tokyo Olympics, took the ultra-decisive step of closing all educational institutions across the country for at least two weeks and up to a month in an effort to contain the situation, and my own company wisely did the same – all lessons cancelled across the board – it was decided, in one school, that only I would have to teach lessons on Friday. In the entire company. That’s right. Of the thousands of students that were required to self-quarantine at home, it was bizarrely decided by the boss of one school that my lessons were somehow ‘too important to miss’, and that there should be a special ‘one off’ class, where the students would be spaced two metres apart – wearing masks – so they wouldn’t have to miss their ‘vital’ English conversation class.

My fierce protestations by email notwithstanding (because it goes against all logic; it is stupid; it is ridiculous, pointless, idiotic, and fucking infuriating) I did go into work on Friday, feeling like a river about to burst its banks in a flood and desperately trying to sandbag myself but knowing that it would probably be impossible : : on seeing the arrangements for these completely arbitrarily decided upon lessons – three in a row with the students so far apart, the windows open; the fans on, the air-con on, the outside noise so loud I couldn’t hear what they were saying (particularly when wearing surgical masks); an hour before the lessons began and the students arrived I unfortunately flew into an absolute rage, something I have never done before in the workplace, at least not for a couple of decades- shouting and swearing and terrifying the administrative staff (the secretary went very pale) at the sheer stupidity of the situation; I couldn’t hear, I couldn’t’ teach, there are no exams coming up; if the whole country is off from school, and the entire company as well, then it just goes without saying that so should these students be; why were they being put at risk for no reason? I was livid. The logic of my argument is undefiable.Radically changing the classroom set up so I couldn’t do the usual pair-work/ blackboard work scenarios, put me in such a deep fury I was physically unable to conceal my irritation (I just made them write sentences on the coronavirus; coronavirus, coronavirus: apoplectic at the bizarreness of the situation (Poor kids !). Sometimes there are things in this country, ways of thinking, though I will never understand. And Friday, a shit day, was certainly one of them. Was it some kind of ‘bravery in the face of danger'(what? just to practice English for an hour? Who gives? ) Educational martyrdom? Some form of punishment?

Who knows. I wore my adulterated, semi-home made perfume again, yesterday, glad it was a Saturday but still riled and pissed off, with the day’s irritations just going round and round in my head (you know when you can’t let go of something?) – filming up in Tokyo – the film is now about 95% shot- and quite enjoyed it, despite its somewhat dour presence ( I don’t think, ultimately, that citrus and patchouli really works – I prefer each of them independent of the other ). In the morning I took a suitcase up with me to Meguro and went to an Indian grocery, stocking up on basmati rice, curry powder, spices, ready made meals, cinnamon, coconut milk powder, a whole suitcase full of food just in case things really do get drastic here – they are talking about a literal state of emergency, in which people could be forcibly be made to stay in their homes, just like in China (in which case, I ask you – why did these kids have to travel far and wide just to come to my lesson? Is this not beyond baffling? Should I be writing this on a public space like this? No I should not, and will possibly have to take this down in a while – but I just feel like venting my spleen, which right now is charred, and still on fire).

At Shinagawa station last night, after a very nice evening which I will save for another post, ladened with luggage and props and garam masala, I dropped my backpack down unceremoniously for a moment in order to relieve my bladder before getting on the train. As we went down in the elevator towards the platform, we looked at each other, suddenly noticing the intensely pungent scent of sour, miserable, burnt out lemons and oranges and guaiac wood and I realized, as the dark stain spread along the bottom of the bag, and dripped down onto my clothes and our suitcases, and filled the air quite intensely, even catching the attention of masked commuters, that the bottle, a 90ml almost full, was completely empty; the glass cracked; smashed.


Filed under Flowers, Lemon


  1. Tara C

    What is this, their kill the gaijin project? I would be furious, deeply insulted and offended. Completely ridiculous and unacceptable.

    Sorry about the loss of your perfume, I’ve done the same with a bottle of Bond No. 9 New Haarlem… the bottle didn’t even make it home from the shop. :-/

    • !!

      Christ it is SO annoying, isn’t it? But to me, it felt like the smashed bottle encapsulated something.

      Glad you understand my rage. It was not THE having to work – I have done VERY intense lessons recently, and had good results in the university entrance exams with some of my students which I am actually really delighted about. It was the arbitrary MORONIC organising of this lesson on Friday in these extreme conditions – putting everyone at unnecessary risk – when it was TOTALLY UNNECESSARY.

      (STILL FUMING). Don’t know how to get it out of my system.

  2. Ann

    Oh it is so ridiculous…no wonder you are raging. Here in Australia people are having fights in the supermarket over toilet rolls!!! People are bulk buying toilet rolls and none are left on the shelves. It is insane.
    Sounds like you are a great teacher x A

    • I have my moments, even if I can’t maintain momentum throughout a whole year and play it too much by ear (and Friday was TERRIBLE). The loo roll thing is a nightmare – thank god we have one of those marvellous Japanese toilets!

      I rage too much sometimes – and it is not good for one’s health. It is nice to know though that I am not insane and that there is a reason for it. I mean it was not the end of the world – but something about all of this just drove me completely NUTS.

      Still roiling.

  3. David

    i would be angry, too. Couldn’t the class be taught online or something?
    Here in Brazil, it’s strangely business as usual. (Maybe not strange. In general, Brazilians are not the panicking type. This is a roll with the punches culture if ever there were one). No shortage of hand sanitisers, no masks, no hoarding of toilet paper, people still hugging and kissing. I guess the rich are rethinking their trips abroad; tech people couldn’t go to the Google or FB conferences in the USA (all canceled for an abundance of caution)– that’s about it. I met a Swiss guy on the train last Friday and helped him navigate. He said he felt safe in Brazil now. Haha….I am selfish: thinking about my stock investments in the USA which are crashing. I also worry about whether or not I should fly to the USA in May to visit my parents. I’m not worried about myself. I just wouldn’t want to possibly infect (what a yucky word) my parents. Troubling times. But we are all in it together, even the bold and the beautiful. Welcome aboard.

    Vintage perfume buying here is sparse at times, a bonanza at other times. I sometimes go to the street markets or search on Mercado Livre (like eBay), but I’m kind of over it. I’d rather throw my money at independent perfumers. I’ve been enjoying Solstice Scents recently. I wear their fragrance called Wilcox’s hoping it will ward off viruses.

    • I have heard that there has only been one death in South America so far – good for you and everyone in Brazil and elsewhere. Asia is obviously very different right now, to put it mildly.

      Things have not been especially relaxing recently…..

    • S E I S M I C

      But a less hysterical person might at least have reacted more calmly. I am just not very good in the face of major Bullshit. I have been severely allergic to it since I was a young child.

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