I have to go in to work today. For just one day. I cannot get out of this situation. I need my visa. I need employment. Otherwise I would be turfed out of Japan. And I want to help my colleagues and the company, at this economically very difficult juncture. It has been a tense time, trying to negotiate a way to continue working without having to come into contact with so many people on buses and trains. But I refuse to do so. A survival instinct. We had to find a way around it. So later this morning, I am to be picked up, taken to school – and, taking as many precautions as possible, with the window open, in my own room – will prepare a couple of classes to be recorded by staff and sent to students ; will then be taken back home with a borrowed video camera and portable whiteboard to do lessons thereafter, until things become more settled and under control.
THE SCENT OF THE DAY :
From right to left:
- ‘ATTACK’ WASHING POWDER . This is a very anodyne washing powder that doesn’t leave too much smell on clothes. I have grown weary of strong smelling fabric conditioners recently that bug me all day long. This one isn’t perfect (and our washing machine is cold water only so never gives the results I would ideally like to have), but I washed all my work clothes and bag yesterday to flush out the perfumed, incense lingering effect that might be a residue from hanging in this pungent palace; clothes washed, and dried in air and sunlight.
2. COW BEAUTY SOAP. A classic. ‘Ooh, my dear, you smell exactly like a cow’. ‘Why, thank you’.
No, actually, this is a very clean, white, old fashioned soap – the only one I could find at the convenience store yesterday – as cold as marble, as squeaky as thou. Containing milk, it has a very cool, conservative scent that I quite like. A salaryman crafted by Rodin.
3. MERIT SHAMPOO ‘WITH RINSE IN’. As usual, I have been using different shampoos at home, depending on what perfume I have been wearing; most recently Shiseido’s Rosarium, a slightly expensive but very rich scented rose number containing real centifolia oil that went well with all the Givenchy Gentleman patchoulis and whatever else I have been marinating in these last, heavily perfumed weeks at home. But for work, I think this ‘shampoo for the people’, the commendable Merit will most probably do. Japanese people like the shampoo and conditioner in 1 type affairs, especially men, for speed, and this product works better than using two separate products. The smell is very gentle; almost like a grapefruited, slightly Brut-ish sudsy Calandre (grapefruit anything is the go to smell in Japan); a little perfumey, and sometimes I think it is too strong if too much sunshine hits your head and you are hectic and busy, but it does present a classic example of what Japanese shampoos smell like. It is popular. In one school, I once worked for years with a very pretty woman of a certain age who had the petitest figure you can imagine, perfectly applied make-up and hair slightly too big for her body, like a bobbing pageant Cindy Doll : a fabulous coiffed pouff- though also rotting teeth, which somewhat ruined the overall effect. Whenever she wisped by me to get to the photocopier, though, so skinny you worried she would snap in two if you breathed out in her direction – her waist was about the width of my wrist – she always gave off a very pleasant after-scent that I often thought might have been down to MERIT.
4. GATSBY 8X4 UNSCENTED DEODORANT. D’s and my most usual choice of deodorant stick, readily available. It smells of nothing. And usually effective. Lasts all day (most Japanese people don’t even wear or need deodorant – we foreigners do). Once though, we had an inexplicably defective batch that must have been missing the key ingredients and it was at the height of the sweltering summer. The results in our respective classrooms were not good.
5. VASELINE. Essential for me at the best of times but particularly when handling chalk, the texture of which is repugnant to the depths of my very soul (see my deep phobia of powder). But to make it a far more enjoyable experience than mere grease, this pot o’ vaseline has been scented right through with grapefruit essential oil and it really does smell FANTASTIC! I tend to use lemon oil in my vaseline hand rubs, but there wasn’t any there when I last went to MUJI – people are buying essential oils in protection; Instead for the first time I used a 30ml bottle of grapefruit oil and each time I open this tub it’s an immediate mood booster – my brain smiles involuntarily, and so do my lips. It’s just like peeling a grapefruit for breakfast. Glorious. This will of course be used as a barrier to the motherfucker, as it is antibacterial and hopefully viral, but is more just a defensive olfactory mechanism and a way for me to wear scent with immediacy on the spot, whenever I feel like it. You thought I was going to go into work completely unscented? Think again.
6. SANITIZER. Managed to get some yesterday from the local shops – it has been hard to come by but I have bought four bottles. This one is a very viscous alcohol gel that feels like the kind of thing you get before an ultrasound, a bit sticky at first, but then it disappears completely. I will be availing myself of it A LOT today I can tell you.
Today’s Scent Of The Day is going to hopefully be clean; soapy, nothingy, with the occasional invisible zest of pamplemousse to take people by surprise and give me olfactory power. I have to get through this day. I need to do a good job. I want to make as little contact as possible. And then, when I am making my videos at home
YOU CAN BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR THAT I WILL BE THERE GRINNING INTO THE CAMERA EACH DAY: FRAGRANCED FONDLY IN ALL MY MOST LUXURIANT, SCENTED ABUNDANCE OF PERFUMED GLORY.