My summer isn’t yet over (all of August off work), so it’s fair to say I’m being a little previous (as my ma would say) with my title. Still, I’m reminded of those turgid and asinine assignments teachers would set in primary school to fill some time while they got their act together. In my convoluted and verbose responses, I’d run off on a flight of fantasy, often producing multiple pages of absurdity, with diagrams to clarify, as appropriate. The teacher would roll her eyes at the smart alec, and mumble something like ‘I’ve heard about you’, under her breath, probably remembering some story about how I was made to stand all afternoon in the hall, shoes off, for doing cartwheels across the road in front of the lorries (‘You could’ve killed yourself, you stupid boy. And more importantly, you may have hurt the driver.’) or refusing to eat the boiled peas in the lunch hall and attempting to organise a sit-in for better food. Or my irritating questioning technique that infuriated all the staff except for those I cared about anyway.
So, this is to say I’m back. I’m not sure how permanently, or how often, but the muse came round at last, sat down and had a cup of tea. I gave her a biscuit or two (lemon shortbread to begin with, followed by a Jaffa cake – it seems she probably wears hesperidic numbers, judging by her cookie choice). We chewed the cud, spat it out, cleansed our palates with the Assam loose leaf blend, and commented that grass would be much easier to digest if we had a bovine stomach arrangement. We moved back to the biscuits.
What I mean by all this procrastination is that I’ve had little interest in writing, and little interest in perfume. I commented to a lovely woman and fellow perfume aficionado that I’m an obsessive type, but I only have three or four obsession slots in my brain, like those expandable memory ones you used to get in computers. Maybe you still do. In the spring and summer, my fragrance fanaticism generally wanes. This year, it dwindled to a nothing. I would still sniff my collection of sample vials (over 400 I imagine) ritualistically at the end of the day, but there was no buzz. I’d still wear some perfume, but there have been many days where I simply forgot to put any on, and these often extended to a week. I wasn’t down, I wasn’t anosmic, I wasn’t (or so I thought) taking a break. I was happy (still am) and enjoying all the sensory delights late spring and summer can offer.
I haven’t bought anything since March. That’s half a year, godammit!
Now, I can feel a vague rekindling of perfume interest. I’ve been commenting here and there – that plethora of new blogs is a little overwhelming, though I share the enthusiasm for the erudition of carmencanada’s writing. I think what’s spurred me on more than anything are the releases that nod towards autumn. I’m a spring and summer person in spirit, but I love my winter ‘fumes. Perfume is an introspective experience for me, and doesn’t fit with my summer self, a person way too outdoorsy and outward looking to bother with spritzing and contemplating. I’ll save that for the cold, thank you very much. So, I’m looking forward to sniffing El Attarine, Serge Noire, Aziyadé. A previous self would’ve sniffed these out already; my current self – calm, zen-like, in control – is happy to wait.
Zen-like, my arse. I’m just excited elsewhere is all.
So what fills my three or four obsessive slots?
- The first is, and always will be I hope, Matt. I don’t want to go on about it too much, but all summer I’ve had these moments where I look at him and my body jolts, puppet strings pulled by some unseen hand. It’s a visceral and intellectual love, and I could never want for better, in spite of all his foils and weaknesses, and even more of mine.
- The second is gardening. The front garden is straightforward – a gravelled dry garden with textural shrubs – Euphorbia, Yucca, Cistus – herbaceous flowers and grasses. It’s the pots that line the path – second hand terracotta, beautiful looking – that take up time with their constant watering and their high-maintenance floriferous rarities, alongside standard summer classics. The back garden is larger and a little more demanding – terrace with another array of potted plants, imitation jungle that needs hacking back to maintain the path, and secret garden at the end with coloured beds in blues, then pinks, then reds and oranges. I should do photos. It does look magical, but will reach its peak in September, always the best time of year for me. I’ve also got the allotment, yards and yards of weeds among which I grow over 100 types of fruit and vegetables. We don’t buy any in the summer and give so much a way. But every year I consider giving it up if I leave it for a couple of days. Nature fights me, tooth and claw, for this scrap of leased land. Slowly, we find a compromise.
- The third, and so large it takes up two slots, is dogs. I wrote a post about dogs a while back – it all went badly wrong. The breeder saw the post, excoriated me for it (don’t ask) and our contact ended. Some things, no matter how they feel, aren’t meant to be. Still, Matt and I (he’d joined in by now) continued to look for the right woofer. We visited animal shelters, and persisted in pondering a new born. The shelters weren’t working out for first-time owners (not considering childhood pets) like us, with our under-5 year old neighbours. Finally, I got in touch with another breeder. She’s been wonderful and I’ve followed her dog’s pregnancy right from the start. We had the pick of the litter and finally settled on the girl whose image has been peppering this post. She’s called Gracie, partly because she appears to have an elegance above and beyond her siblings – they have squarer muzzles, eat as much with their feet and torsos as their jaws, whereas she has a refined snout and is a tidier eater than I am. Most importantly, her character is perfection. Playful, yes, but also happy to snuggle contentedly with both Matt and I. The Disney picture was completed by her following us as we left the breeder’s house, as though she knew. She comes home with us on Sunday. Howling aside, I can’t wait. That’s her up there at four weeks, five weeks and six weeks. See how obsessive I am. Look closely and you can see her wire hair just beginning. Well, I can in my enormous versions of those pics, anyway. Schnnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo……
So, I’ll probably be back in two weeks’ time. Watch out. And tell me your other summer obsessions please. You know you want to.