I’m not writing about robots in disguise, honest. Too old for all that. And probably too gay (though I have to admit that I did, as a small boy, have Star Wars figurines. Han and Luke had a lot of fun together when Chewbacca was looking the other way).
Instead, this brief post is inspired by what I was doing last night when I should have been writing it. I was scrabbling around in the house, and in our old outbuilding (the original Georgian kitchen) looking for material with which to cover my tender plantlings. A frost was forecast. A frost, in late May. Unheard of. So much for global warming. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the pattern of global warming is much more, at least here, a pattern of increasing extremes: increasingly mild winters, unpredictable dry patches, rain, rain, rain – and I know what you guys think about Britain, but I live in one of the driest spots in not only Britain but also Europe, apparently.
So, poor March got the raw end of this unpredictability when she arrived at the beginning of May. We’d had a glorious April – sunshine, warmth through to late evening, not even a glimpse of rain. On her arrival, all this changed and in May it seemed to rain a little or a lottle every single damn day. Ending up with a frost last night (which, if the soft growth on all my shrubs – too large to cover – is anything to go by, failed to materialise). I’m buying a ski outfit for July.
Now here’s my unconvincing and tenuous segueway. There are perfumes that are as unpredictable as the British weather – not because they depend on skin chemistry, perception, whatever – but because they transform so profoundly from top notes to drydown. Here’s my off-the-cuff top 5 of ultimately non-linear scents. What are yours?
At 5: I can’t pin it down, as it always seems so different every time I sniff it. It’s that shape-changing, shifting mélange of old school European élan with a new world name, Patricia de Nicolai’s New York.
At 4: Sticking with the old school, some people think of vomit or poop when this first kicks in, and it’s certainly a Dirty Gerty in its initial blasts. But wait: soon it’s nothing more than a flirty caress of vanilla and lavender, like the softest touch of the softest skin against skin: Guerlain’s Jicky eau de parfum.
At 3: It’s a man’s scent, but starts with a shrill screech of orange blossom that’s almost too much for me. I have to get the right headset on – this is conjuring up Mediterranean grooming in the heat, and the neroli is a refreshing stimulant, rather than a headache-inducing nightmare gas. Give it 30 minutes though, and the scent becomes Gucci pour Homme’s woody, incensy older brother. Rochas Lui.
At 2: It starts in the bright lights of lemon sherbet, almost too sweet, but so acid yellow you can forgive it, even if the roof of your mouth is made raw and your eyes dazzled. It dries down to a warm, velvety cuddle in the back pew of a rural church (wholly inappropriate I imagine, but all the better for it). Mona di Orio’s Lux.
At 1: It’s been there for a while, and it’s a predictable winner. A camphor rub in a car mechanic’s workshop. Bryan walks in with a bunch of his favourite blooms. Of course it’s Lutens’s Tubereuse Criminelle.