RACQUETS by PENHALIGONS (2021)

I am extraordinarily crap at tennis. I have played it only once. But I remember the terror of the ball flying towards me at the speed of light having no idea where from, nor any idea of how to swing the racquet – far heavier than I had been expecting – missing it completely and flailing my arms around like a blind orangutan. So that one occasion (I must have been lured onto a court with someone against my better sense) was my last, even if compared to the majority of sports, I still think that tennis is relatively exciting. Rather than the utter misery of Match Of The Day, which seemed to take over the entire rainy weekends of childhood stuck at home with the dreary hooligans baying in the stands, the football relentless, so boring it blew my mind (D has exactly the same memories: maybe it is a standard gay boy thing – it would hang over you, like a dense, miserable fog of utter tedium). The one time I was taken to a match in an actual stadium, I sat huffily reading a novel, desperate to get home. In PE I ran away from the ball, ‘punished’ by being made to go jogging around the park (yey!), where I could take in the trees and the air and escape from the hell that was the dreaded Wednesday afternoon, when you might also – in shorts and a vest – stand shivering next to freezing, muddy ice puddles; ordered – but refusing – to join a ‘scrum’ in the even more loathed ‘game’ that was rugby. Oh the memories.

But I was talking about tennis. Though thoroughly useless at it myself, I do have fond memories of summers spent sat round the tv at my grandparents’ house watching Wimbledon; something exhilarating about the clash of the titans of the time; somehow I also like to keep up with what is happening with the Federer/Nadal/Djokovic ‘who is the best player of time’ continuing melodrama. There is a real stamina involved; the mind games; the resoluteness of technique.

When it came to racquets in my school days, I myself was much better at playing badminton. I liked the airy tautness as the shuttlecock bounced on the strings of the racquet; there was a balletic athleticism to it I could manage in terms of my imperfect spatial awareness (tennis is just too fast); I was able to gauge the speed of the falling and ascending; tell where to hit. Of all the sports – I played it once or twice a week in Sixth Form College – this was the least loathsome.

Penhaligon’s latest refreshing perfume – ‘would you fancy a game of lemon?‘ is an ode to the rigorous pleasures of Wimbledon and the sunny pleasures of a weather-behaving English summer, though in fragrance terms it would work equally well as a year rounder. Smelling this for the first time the other day, my first, spontaneous thought was :’ooh, a potential birthday perfume’ as I love really revitalizing citrus perfumes that just lift you with their immedicay,and this one took me back to other easy to wear scents I am fond of such as Agua Fresca by Adolfo Rodriguez and Armani : I thrilled to the opening accord, which was zestful but not aggressive with an aerated underthrow that is rather dignifed, restrained, yet simultaneously ‘sporty’ in an appealing and open-hearted way. As time went on, the ‘leatherwood’ ambroxan/ guaiac took over too much for my personal tastes ( I will be scanning my brain for other birthday options), but I still rather like this in any case for its casual, but knowing, simplicity; a spray or two on any wrist and one on the chest bone – and you are definitely talking a real office crowdpleaser.

30 Comments

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30 responses to “RACQUETS by PENHALIGONS (2021)

  1. I feel the same way as you about these sports! Loved to play badminton as a teenager. I could never watch football or American football, even when I tried because everyone else was so into it. My eyes would just glaze over and I’d get distracted by a billboard or something rather than the action. Tennis was the only sport I could watch, and enjoyed watching. I later realized it must be something about my brain that it can’t process the chaos with too many people on the field. Tennis is one at a time and I can follow that.

    I never understood what the fuss was about with (American) football—not sure if the same analogy applies to what the British call football and Americans call soccer—but I read or heard that it’s the modern equivalent of what opera was to people in the Victorian era. A staged drama with characters you admired where you got the excitement of not knowing what exactly would happen and the promise of a hero at the end, etc. Entertainment for the masses.

    • Soccer (US) = football (UK).

      American football would have TERRIFIED me. Rugby was enough as it was. Badminton is quite graceful, isn’t it?

    • I’m not a huge sports fan, but I’ve learned to appreciate some aspects of American football, especially after my son started to play (I’m very thankful that period of life is over, without serious injury!). Once you know the rules and can see the patterns developing on the field, it is very interesting. There is a sort of balletic beauty to the way a good quarterback takes the snap, drops back, assesses the field, and throws a pass, then the way a receiver runs with the ball.
      When I was in college, more colleges had what was called “lightweight” or “sprint” football, in which the players could not exceed a certain weight (I think it was about 170 lbs). So the play was much faster, and there were fewer collisions of behemoths on the field. No behemoths at all, actually. But very few colleges have those lightweight teams any more, which I think is a shame. That was truly amateur football, as there are no post-college professional options; people played it for love of the game.

      • I am sold on the whole beauty of the players thing (oh yes); and can imagine what you are talking about. Sometimes I need an artist to ‘translate’ it for me; for example, I thought Ron Howard did a sublime job with ‘Rush’. I have less than zero interest in Formula One, but in the hands of a talented filmmaker, I was riveted. I also really enjoyed the Oliver Stone baseball movie Any Given Sunday – I was on the edge of my seat.

        There is still room for us to appreciate this baloney! (and yes; thank god your son got through all that; head injury terror could really get a person down)

      • Yes, that was the fear. The deal I made with son and husband (who played until the end of high school) was that if there was one concussion, we were done with football. It also made a big difference that my son played as a quarterback, where the largest offensive players’ job is to protect you — and high school players are rarely able to “sack” the quarterback.

      • Ugh. It must have been a constant dread in any case!

      • Yep. But so is much of parenting. Luckily, for us the joys have far outweighed the dreads!

  2. Editor Devil魔鬼小編

    I used to badminton too and bought my Yonex racket here. But it’s too difficult to find a badminton course or partner. I did play tennis once and disliked it. I have no idea about American football.

    • !

      What did you dislike about tennis?

      It is much cooler than badminton (in terms of watching, which I think would be like watching dandelion seeds floating in the breeze), but in my case I do remember the VIOLENCE of it genuinely being a total shock. I had no idea what to do; how to proceed.

  3. I was terrified of tennis too, but was made to play it every summer by my tennis-loving, athletic English mother, for whom it was a great social outlet. I was SO BAD at it, and it was excruciating because she would sign me up every year for the summer program at our tennis club, which required me to play singles matches against other kids and be ranked against them. As you can imagine, I was always at the bottom of the “ladder”, having suffered through defeat after defeat, some of which were delivered with a side of mockery. I was finally allowed to stop once I entered high school.

    When I was in college, and had started fencing (so my fitness and eye-hand coordination were much better), my mom offered to pay for me to have some private tennis lessons with the club pro, so she and I could occasionally play for fun. Well, by then I had also acquired contact lenses, because you can’t easily wear eyeglasses under a fencing mask. What a revelation on the tennis court! I have been near-sighted and wearing glasses since I was 10, but the rule at the club was that kids couldn’t wear glasses on the tennis court, for fear of a ball to an eye causing serious injury. It wasn’t until I tried tennis again as a young adult, with contacts, that I realized everyone else could actually see the ball before it was five feet away!! No wonder I was so bad at it.

  4. Hanamini

    Might have to give that a try, although leatherwood is now repellent to me, in certain combinations. I can’t wear my Le Labo Tokyo exclusive Gaiac any more. I like Penhaligon’s Castile for a warm lemon cloud, but not when it’s cold. My perfume shelves are sorely lacking in fresh citrusy fragrances. Lutens’ Fleurs de Citronnier is lovely, but for me it’s more floral than fresh, and I do wear it year-round. Time for O de Lancome again? Shiseido had that lovely grapefruit thing in the orange teardrop bottle—it’s been decades since I revisited that, though. You described badminton so well, the “airy tautness”…It is now impossible for me, at home at least. I used to play (no net, just back and forth, often as high as possible) with my kids in my garden, but the greyhound has made the lawn into a mogul course, gouging out great clumps of it on his rounds. So only board games are ankle-safe to play outdoors. As it’s now dark at 4pm here, I just have to run up and down the stairs for exercise. But I don’t.

    • Because it would be tedious AF.

      I love that you have a greyhound. I am not a dog person but love the whippet silhouette (particularly when playing badminton; let’s turn life into a Leonora Carrington painting).

      Re: Racquets, it’s funny. There is a strip with this sprayed on in my coat, and it is getting stronger and stronger; the synthetic notes totally at the fore to an irritating degree now (I noticed it yesterday). I think I might have to wash it. I still think this scent could be remarkably attractive on the right person at a reasonable dosage, but I was only enamoured with that delicious first impression.

      • Hanamini

        When you want something to be fleeting and it isn’t! Ha. Speaking of fleeting, my greyhound is our second rescue racer. He’s the king of couch potatoes, but once a day he goes and destroys the garden just to relive his glory days. They are a perfect combination of elegant and goofy. Now there’s a perfume challenge for you.

      • I could personally never live with such a creature, but I don’t doubt they can bring a very specific kind of joy. As for perfume, I have never really considered a scent being ‘goofy’ before. I wonder what would apply?

  5. Hanamini

    You once highlighted Histoires de Parfums Tubereuse Capricieuse (at that event at Roullier White), and I bought some. That’s the first one in my collection that comes to mind for me for elegant and goofy—both beautiful and oddball. Niki de St Phalle is another, although perhaps I’m being swayed by the artwork (like for the original Dali, perhaps). Perfumes that combine beauty and humour, perhaps? I’l have to think harder.

  6. I never understood the appeal of sports, not at all. Most seem rather barbaric and uncivilized to me at best, downright sadistic and torture-like at worst. Tennis is one of the few that is a bit more polished and not so cave-man like,
    but still, dodgeing a ball and returning it, when it is coming at you so fast is quite difficult. Badminton is by far my preferred game of racquet sport. I love the way it is played, the rythm, the feel, the movement. So much more proper.
    The fragrance sounds lovely in its citrus opening, but too much ambroxan tends to ruin a scent for me. I really do not know of a Pehaligon’s scent that has ever truly captured my fancy. Maybe Tra La La was pretty good, nicely done, but I never felt the overwhelming desire to own anything in their range. Once again, I will ask your advice. Is there anything from Penhaligon’s that I “must” have in my collection?

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