|Selfridges via geograph.org.uk|
Meanwhile, I contacted Freddie Albrighton of Smellythoughts - whom I managed to miss meeting at recent PLL events in London - and asked if he fancied hooking up afterwards for a sniffing session and/or a coffee. Happily Freddie was well up for a blind date (as we do!), but because he works on a Saturday we agreed to meet straight after my film, just outside the train station.
|The upstairs foyer at the Electric Cinema|
It was easy to spot Freddie at the bottom of the New Street ramp on account of his distinctive hoop earrings, and he led me without ado to a favourite watering hole, a cellar bar in Burlington Arcade called Bacchus. It was like stepping into an Arthurian legend: there were vaulted stone arches, flaming torches in sconces and tapestry wall hangings. The bar was divided into different levels, with cosy snugs at every turn - sadly all of them taken by early doors revellers. So I loitered with intent in a spot where I could keep an eye on people's comings and goings while Freddie got the first round in. I can report that despite the medieval ambience of Bacchus, the bar stocked a number of contemporary tipples such as Appletizer and Freddie's preferred brand of Antipodean pear cider, Rekorderlig - an apt choice for someone who recently spent a year in New Zealand. Moments later Freddie returned with the drinks, and suddenly we spied a table just being vacated, on which we swooped with alacrity.
|Bacchus Bar via grapevinebirmingham.com|
The next two hours were a blur of enjoyable chitchat about our lives, our "perfume journeys" (if I may briefly annexe that hateful X-Factor term), our favourite styles of scents, our approach to blogging and thoughts on the latest developments in Perfume Land. And it goes without saying that there was a Bacchanalian orgy of sniffing and sample exchanging. By the end of the session we had covered ourselves in a veritable cacophony of scents all up our arms. I do recall that Freddie had Damien Bash Lucifer #3 in the crook of his right elbow, while I had the cult scent Shiseido/SL Nombre Noir below the base of my right forefinger - but the rest is consigned to oblivion.
My sample haul from Freddie included three Vero Profumos (I get to try Mito again!), three samples from Magnetic Scent and two from O'Driu (lines that were completely under my radar), plus a complete set of JAR Parfums (which I smelt in Paris but would like to try again, even though at least three smelt of carnation. : - ) ) Freddie also gave me a vial of Miel de Bois - he is a self-styled "enfant terrible" after all, and it was every drop the evil honeyed thing of my traumatised memory - and one of actual perfumer's ambergris (1 year old 1% black ambergris tincture to be precise), which I was very excited to smell.
On the day, my preferred scent out of all the ones I tested has to be Nombre Noir, a dark aldehydic rose with osmanthus, though to my nose it read in a lighter register - a bit sherbety and springlike, with a vibe not unlike Guerlain Chamade or a powdery version of DelRae Debut. Freddie explained how Luca Turin considers Nombre Noir to be "one of the five great perfumes in the world". It is pretty special for sure and I am very glad to own a little bit of this (criminally discontinued) legend.
Then today Freddie has followed up his initial generosity with another pouch of perfumes in the post(!), including three from Aftelier - I am currently swooning over Secret Garden and completely revising my previous lariness around natural scents - Miriam(!), Tawaf from La Via del Profumo and a few other bits and bobs. Special mention should also be made of the curious upside down test tube vials Freddie favours. They certainly score highly on the snap-fitting front and I may seek out some of my own.
|The JARS are in a cheeky Hermes box - ha!|
A highlight of my meeting with Freddie has to be a discreet shufty at his tattoos, which are extensive but completely covered up by his clothes. I have never been tempted to get a tattoo myself, but Freddie's were an impressive sight and there is clearly a lot of artistry involved.
Oh, and there was one more thing I brought up during our chat which amused Freddie - my diary entry from the very day he was born, a snowy winter's day over 20 years ago:
"Got up late c11am. Ventured out to shops in blizzard conditions! Bought impulse present for Mother. Tea and scone in Soup Kitchen. Power cut c5pm. David pissed off and I spent the evening reading The Telegraph and New Woman by bicycle lamp, after finding a rather unsavoury pasty at Oasis."
Notes: David was my lodger at the time, while Oasis is a chippy that has changed hands several times since.