D once worked for a theatre company in London, and spent a couple of summers at the Edinburgh festival. Although neither of us got on especially well with all the wide-eyed, over-energized and earnest thesps ( I tend to cringe, my hairs standing up on my skin slightly when watching plays – too sensitive to every self-conscious gesture of the actors to suspend reality; standup comedy,also – FORGET IT; HATE IT; direly embarrassed if even a single joke falls flat, inwardly urging and willing the ‘set’ of semi-improvised preplanned ‘gags’ to end as quickly as possible ), I enjoyed spending time in the city exploring its long, meandering streets – when they weren’t clogged up with wacky unicyclists and clowns, painted mime artists standing motionless for cash; touts selling tickets and flyers left right and centre; zany cartwheelers gymnasting down the thoroughfares; once you waded your way through all the tourists and the jugglers and the giddy theatre goers dogging the main high streets you could sometimes come upon an old Scottish street with a tall and blackened facade, wind your way to a four hundred year old pub for a quiet pint in the corner with some silence.

One afternoon, after one too many excruciating ‘performances’ of Fringe, I suddenly perversely felt like going the other way – fleeing from archness and art and all the live acting and impersonation and finding myself slumped in a big commercial cinema watching Braveheart – with a packed house of people cheering and roaring at the onscreen battlefield mayhem. The villainously effeminate, cartoonish English aristocrats with their bowl haircuts,limp wrists and enunciated snide sarcasms vs the semi-naked rock gods in Mel Gibson’s guitar/hair warrior epic as the Scottish clans courageously defended their territory made me slide even further down into my cinema seat, bemused and slightly embarrassed, if unroused ( I was never one for the Last Of The Mohicans style pictures; Dances With Wolves; in fact I was GLAD to see Tom Cruise finally slaughtered in The Last Samurai because at least it might mean that the musketed slogfest would soon be coming to a close and I would not have to endure his smug face for a moment longer ( I prefer Apocalypse Now for its chaos, visual acuity and moral ambiguity or the war films of Oliver Stone; Terrence Malick’s The New World, about the ‘discovery’ of America and the tragic clash of civilizations one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen; Saving Private Ryan was effective);but it was certainly a memorable afternoon, surrounded by local cinema goers fired up by their history, chanting and clapping in a crescendo of Oscar-winning victory. And at least it was a welcome two hour break from buskers, aerialists, and weeping soliloquists.

Scottish independent brand Jorum Studio, whose range of perfumes is at once atavistic and quite avant garde, with Carduus, takes the titular theme of the thistle ( ‘nemo me impune lacessit : no one attacks me with impunity ‘) and imbues a tough, but warm-hearted herbal fougere with a whole plethora of ingredients that simultaneously reads ‘fresh laboratorial niche’ and Paco Rabanne Pour Homme meets Rochas Mystere. Gristly and bristly but without the whole whiskey caboodle – which I am personally bored to death of in perfume (just DRINK the fucking single malt, no need to wet your puny neck and wrists with cigars and vanilla ); it is rounded, burnished, aromatic; believable…and kind of sexy.

‘Unashamedly polarizing, Carduus is a blend of jagged leaves, herbal seeds and xeric barks ‘ :

Official notes :

Vetch? Meum? Tormentil? Fascinating. ( I also like ‘ fade’ as a new term for drydown .)Despite the seemingly disparate, clashable and unknowable ingredients listed here : Hart’s Tongue and Sea Holly, Cherrywood and musk-thistle, all of which might seem like one herb too many in the hubble, bubble, toil and trouble hairy cauldron of broiling Englishmen, Carduus is actually engagingly smooth : rich and harmonious : manly in a good way : a big -boned, bearded ‘brute’, with a wry, and approachable wit.


Filed under Flowers


  1. Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

    You make me curious. Macho Mystere To discover the ‘male’ area of scent! Have never gone that way except for Lagerfeld years ago! Maybe something to explore!
    Wonderful introduction. Very theatrical I’m afraid but you Bend it like Ginza!

    • At least not like Beckham.

      It’s funny : I AM theatrical ( are you ? ) – a ‘drama Queen ‘ etc : but on the whole not a theatre person( and both me and D can’t endure musicals with the odd exception. I vastly prefer cinema – or live cabaret ( which we both of course do, or ‘did’….)

      • Nelleke Oepkes aka Booknose

        Yes I can be theatrical!! But I am a very poor actress.
        For me being consistent is not obligatory, in fact I love duality, tri- and even quartality. So I think yes you can be theatrical and not love theatre. In itself I prefer the broad definition of theatre, from Shakespeare to street performance.
        And from stage to screen to podium.
        And to end with that very particular bromide: Life/ World is a theatre/ stage …
        Just now we had a political crisis in our parliament: very poor actors all of them, and the script too boring for words. And afterwards all ended up being a big storm in a small glass of water. While the really important worldwide issues are ignored … it can really make me bloody mad! So no, I don’t watch that kind of theatre. I would throw all kind of vegetables at the players .. Give me some good really well crafted illusion ANYTIME!!!

  2. This post had me giggling uncontrollably, especially the descriptions of Edinburgh during the theater festival. I mostly can’t stand Mel Gibson, so that part made me chuckle too, as did your mini-rant about whiskey. I look forward to trying some Jorum Studio scents!

    • They are quite bracing and full on overall from what I have smelled – but I appreciate the non-cowardice.

      Glad you were laughing ; I was too as I was writing it. I love Edinburgh but it is way too crowded in summer – apparently the Fringe Festival is the biggest global event after the Olympics and the World Cup!

      It was hilarious being in that cinema when Braveheart had just come out. I really felt like The Enemy.

  3. Robin

    All this was highly amusing. I don’t think I was too surprised to hear you’re not a big fan of live theatre. I feel the same, although I have seen some excellent productions that allowed me to suspend all disbelief and get caught up in them just like film (we had an Othello that was brilliant).

    This Carduus sounds magnificent and Ric-able.

  4. I could not make it through Braveheart, all I remember was the gratuitous bad hair extensions and Mel’s ham acting. I have no idea how Tom Cruise became famous as I find him to be and play the same tiny, arrogant twit over and over.
    I too am getting tired of the tobacco & booze trend in masculine perfumery. Carduus sounds wonderful. Wish there were more “herbal” sorts of fougeres & freshies in both niche & mainstream. So many underused botanicals in modern male fragrance – green cardamom, black cardamom, fresh ginger, and why not Taif rose?

    • I love cardamom and ginger as well and would love to smell more fresh spice about.

      Braveheart as an antidote to art pomp was almost refreshing at that moment even if I was probably groaning inwardly throughout. Sometimes Hair is the main feature of a film, like anything featuring Meg Ryan. Even in Jane Campion’s brilliant and very underrated In The Cut, it was Meg’s do that mainly caught one’s concentration.

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