The wonderful thing about living now is how connected we are. I know that this is problematic as well: you don’t need to tell me. But when we are faced with the prospect of all being locked up inside, going barn crazy, it is so great that we can just press a few buttons and talk to our family and friends and simultaneously see their faces while doing so. This was something I actively used to fantasise about when watching Startrek on TV as a child. To boldly go. And now it is real.







Talking with my parents today earlier – them in the living room in their dressing gowns, us upstairs in ‘Joni Mitchell’ (the piano and cinema room) about the escalating situations around the world that we are all glued to, even if it is quite nice to take your mind off it sometimes for a while (D and I spent this glorious sunny afternoon cycling along parts of our neighbourhood we have infrequently or never been to before; random roads, past unknown houses), I discovered to my absolute astonishment during the conversation that one of my cousins has in fact already come down with the virus and already recovered (she caught it in Northern Italy, when skiing and is now in isolation).






My senses went into overdrive. Somehow, feeling all greasy and grotty after all the exercise in the unusually warm sun and then from the heat of cooking dinner ce soir, the news that someone in my family has already been through the coronavirus and come out the other side alive just made me suddenly despair strongly for something soft, aldehydic, harmless, lovely – a hot shower with lots of soap and then rushing upstairs frantically in search of More By Shiseido, my first choice that came immediately to mind, a sixties or seventies floral aldehydic that has all the fluffiness and teen bedroomness of those cozed up in the sheets pyjama party perfumes like Chantilly by Houbigant (remember that one? so damn comforting); but try as I might I just couldn’t locate the gorgeously crisp yet talcum powdery confection that is More. Instead, my lingering wrist chanced lightly among my armoire upon a small bottle of Indra!, a cheap as chips little perfume (rose, jasmine, iris, aldehydes, soft base)  – given to me by a friend a few years ago and that I had somehow neglected but that actually ended up being even better. As I sit here in my pyjamas, clean and very pleased that my cousin is alright ( I know it doesn’t detract from the severity of the worldwide situation, but just let me have my five minutes), this perfume couldn’t possibly be more perfect right now, at this actual moment. I don’t need to psychoanalyse the situation.  I just know that this smells like 1983, and I am happy.






















Filed under Flowers

21 responses to “AFTER THE VIRUS : : INDRA! by ULRIC DE VARENS (1983)

  1. What are your versions of this Indra – your easy, and mindless delightful little pyjama perfumes?

  2. Tora

    Your words comforted me this morning. The image of you in your clean PJs searching for the perfect scent and then discovering one, made me so happy. I am glad it is warm enough there for you guys to go on a bike ride. It is snowing like crazy here. Stay safe Neil. And thanks for cheering me up.

    • Oh I am glad you liked this post as I thought it was a little crazy (I just wrote it the second after I found the perfume). Still smells VERY comforting! Like all the creams and soaps of childhood.

  3. Filomena

    I get it! I am happy too because while reaching for something else I inadvertently picked up Neela Vermiere’s Mohur and am loving the way I smell.

  4. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    Oh yes pink pyama’s, Pivoine (?) the kitten purring by my side ; no more animal house pets for me except mice (malgre moi!)!

    Going shopping is a social adventure: very unexpected conversations.
    One good thing: sickness instead of war!
    Solidarity instead of belligerence.
    Happy to hear that your cousin recuperated.
    Stay healthy you, D and the cat of course

    • I agree with all of that, and I also love that the coronavirus is completely equal opportunities. Barriers go up, but also come down. Everyone is human and the virus is the enemy.

      Cute, pink, soft perfumes = YES

  5. Tara C

    Very happy to hear your cousin is well, excellent news. She can feel happy now that she has immunity. I would prefer to get a mild case and then be immune than to wait in fear for the day when the virus will come for me and I will be unlucky. I am wearing 4160 Tuesdays Clouds, named after the Joni Mitchell song. It is very soothing.

    • I have never smelled that one, but love the song. And re the virus, this country is being REALLY. FUCKING. STUPID. SO HEAD IN THE CLOUDS IT IS LITERALLY EMBARRASSING TO READ ABOUT. I think so many people here might already have it but the government is pretending it only comes from outside – travel bans, etc.


  6. Julia Burke

    This is one of the most moving pieces you have ever written – which is saying something. X


    • Really? This was one of my most instinctual and instantaneous, literally suddenly panicking for a shower and then running up the stairs I was so in need of one of those comfort perfumes (why? it was good news….she had got through it. But it was just so close to home, I suppose and I just wanted to regress, immediately). Perfume can do that so well – you can turn inwardly in a moment.

      Also, Helen had said something earlier in the day about wanting a link to childhood. My brain works in that way, in the same way I dream, I write – ingest, inhale – and then dream about it or write about it in one go. It all works on a very immediate level with me, unthinking. This one came out in one minute and I just pressed publish, having no idea what I had just written!

      So glad you liked it. And hope you are not alarmed to the point of it detrimental to your health. We are having a whale of a time up here, I must admit. x

  7. Glad to hear your cousin is recovered and that you learned of it after the fact and were spared the worry!
    I haven’t found my equivalent perfume yet, but I have a bunch of essential oils and absolutes in tiny vials in a cabinet, so any time I open the cabinet I can smell their warm and comforting chorus to similar effect.
    Stay safe and sane, everyone!

  8. Also, that kitten is amazingly cute.

  9. Robin

    Great news. Nice to have one happy ending to this crazy, unfolding story. Something for all of us to hang on to. Love the idea of pjs and hot showers and fresh, clean (but not insipid) comfort fragrances. I immediately thought of Nina Ricci Eau de Fleurs.

    For some reason a rose note is an optimistic one for me. Same with tuberose if it’s in a light and airy composition. Now is not the time for dour, sour chemical smoke bombs and phoney amber megaliths. Bring on the fluff!!!

    • Absolutely. I wore Eau de Fleurs two nights ago actually and thought of you; what is it about it? I know it is some kind of ‘resonance of mother’ deep in my psyche. Indra is less sophisticated but like you say, tuberose, which I forgot to mention, is in it – a bit like Lagerfeld Chloe in a way. They surround you with some kind of cotton night gown umbilica of pillows and safety.

      Today I am wearing vintage extrait of Capricci.

  10. David

    I’m using up my vintages that my grandmothers might have worn during the Great Depression and WWII. Hmm…I wonder if they wore Lanvin’s Scandal…well, it was in the stores at that time, anyway… I am also watching Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies because those movies from the 1930s helped a lot of people through the Great Depression. Search the Fred and Ginger roller skating scene they did after singing “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” (it’s on Youtube) and prepare to be amazed… ( a lot of standard songs originated in Fred and Ginger movies….Ginger kind of reminds me of Madonna, strangely enough).

    My grandparents made it through rough times. Please shine down some strength on all of us now. (RIP always always in my heart I love you eternally my dear grandparents).

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