We had to get out of the house.
So yesterday we plunged down the hills on our bicycles (all the new green; early summer, just bloomed young acer leaves, ferns, azaleas, wild irises, Japanese bluebells, dandelions) – and rode forcefully to our ‘junk shop at the end of the world’ (just like our bar at the end of the world, Der Rote Rose, The Red Rose, in Berlin), which we predicted would be open (and was); unlike, thank god, the majority of everything else – rinky dink tourist shops; bars, restaurants, services, even temples, actually – to my disbelief and great pleasure- – FINALLY!!!!!!!!!! – physically closed.
After the last post on here, which for some reason was born out of terrible dreams (I have been plagued with the most terrifying and dreadful nightmares since the weekend, waking up in a sweat and panting – D is a comfort, as is the cat, who always comes by my side and wants to be stroked at just the right moments and helps me gradually get back to sleep again), it was a great relief to be riding on much noticeably emptier roads. The government has asked for a 80% reduction in foot traffic and people, and it seems that the message is finally getting through. I would say yesterday was 90-95% emptier; the message has sunk in, and in Golden Week – the busiest time of the year- to boot – this knowledge put a real charge in my pedal. Some semblance of sanity; people moving like the birds of a flock, together, irrationally or otherwise – at least they are acting – STAYING INSIDE, despite the glorious weather – and not gathering.
My parents told me in their last phone call that they went out of the house recently – my mother for the first time in four weeks – and gingerly went for a walk around the common (my dad also wanted to show her a great patch of bluebells he had found in the nearby woods) – but my mum said that she actually hated it; the lack of people; ‘not even in windows!’ she told me – a zombie apocalypse absence which she found ‘quite eerie’ and which made her quite happy to be back home, door locked, in the safety of her house and garden again.
I sensed some of that yesterday, also; it felt odd – but also extraordinarily right. With police cars and neighbourhood patrol cars also out on the streets extending the message I felt slightly out of place and vagabondish in my foreigner’s unwashed body and hair and my beanie hat and facemask, but it was great to be able to just ride, unhindered, to our local oddity by the ocean and pick up a few fusty and eccentric little perfume bargains.
The second I walked into Kurukuru I immediately espied an ancient Shiseido boxset, which came into existence seven years before I was even born – but was there in its full, unused glory; a gorgeous conglomeration of the eau de cologne, parfum, and puff puff atomiser – the first time I have ever seen one of these as part of an actual perfume gift set and not as an outside fancy toilette piece; I was thrilled. IRare, unheard of – I got home excitedly to look for a review of the perfume and was amused to see that the only one written was one by myself – just a line – I had smelled this before in a precious box set of Shiseido miniatures parfums a few years ago, but smelling the perfume like this is somehow very different. This is Sylvia in profusion, in immaculate olfactory condition (and how strange, don’t you think? – given that I was writing about Sylvia Plath in the context of Miss Balmain and Germaine Cellier so very recently…..)
For two thousand yen (about twenty dollars) we filled out rucksacks with this slightly ropey and rough around the edges, but divine flight of fancy (my first ‘non-essential’ non-grocery purchase in so long! : a bottle of vintage Chanel no 19 eau de cologne (lovely, when it gets to the base not) ; Molyneux Vivre parfum (an article shall follow) ; a Madame Rochas soap; East of Eden cinema booklet; a beautiful old thermoter/barometer which D has hammered to the wall of the deck outside to further ensure my constant awareness of temperature ; a high quality auburn mustard coloured emo wig (hilarious taking photos of each other on the beach afterwards in masks, looking like horrendous virus-filled perverts); a scarab beetle buried for eternity in perspex, which has gone straight way into our Egyptian Museum like entrance; a beautiful black and red glass; and a bottle of Houbigant Musc (no, I had never heard of it either) – I wore this simple but very pure, white musk from the seventies in my old hospital pyjamas to bed last night.
Riding through Kamakura, along the beach beside the waves, nodding sagely (good; good), that the situation, though more empty and bleak than usual, was at least nothing like that crazy last time when I wrote about the throngs and the magnificent blue thrust above the waves of the snow-capped Mt Fuji. This time, the bars were empty (masked proprietors staring out imploring for you to come in…..sorry, not this time!) ; we decided instead to grab a couple of convenience store beers and have a small sit down by the sea with Swiss roll and potato sticks (a hawk swooped right down suddenly, making me scream and brushing Duncan’s head with its wing trying to pinch some of our meagre picnic – a friend of ours has had her hand scratched by their talons before; they are quite dangerous and notorious – ‘eagle-eyed’, said D, acerbically.
The birds – and there were many of them, as usual – you hear the word eagles, ospreys, kites, kestrels, but I think they are actually some kind of indigenous hawk – were definitely more interested in our paltry and unhealthy unprocessed snacks than my perfume (which I couldn’t resist getting out and spraying and using the little plastic pipette to convert from the cologne bottle to the fine, Parisian spray, just because I was there and I could. I realized immediately that although I had been a little dismissive of the Sylvia in my previous review, it is actually really very beautiful; extraordinarily delicate, elegant – old fashioned, yes, but with a great deal of soul and temperate comportment. In my previous mention of the perfume I alluded to this smelling like Givenchy L’interdit – which I definitely also thought of again yesterday; a woody, powdery, aldehyde, musky, orris, jasmine rose; but smelling more of the perfume – sometimes a real miniature doesn’t give you the full reach and perspective and diorama of a fragrance in full, I also felt the definite influence in Sylvia of Coty L’Origan ; a rich, carnationed, anisic; spiced and effortlessly burnished seriality. And though ragged around the box’s edges, tossed unknowingly in some rusting junkyard along with a thousand other useless artefacts in Zushi;inside, in terms of perfume…………unravaged.