So yes, that was a clear case of a perfume conversation I never thought I'd have in that surgical setting...Then just the other day at Cake Club, my fellow members lobbed another conversational curved ball at me on the theme of perfume.
But to rewind for a moment, you may well wish to know what it is exactly, this Cake Club. Well, of course 'The first rule of cake club is that you don't talk about Cake Club!' But waiving it for a moment, a group of five women from Staffordshire and Shropshire come together on a Monday evening every six weeks or so at one of our houses. (It should be six women, but one of our number has yet to put in an appearance, two years on; we still assiduously copy her in on all our emails on the off-chance that she might turn up one day.) We each bring a cake - usually of our own making, though I did get special dispensation once to bring a bought one from a Farmer's Market because I had been working crazy hours the preceding weekend (it was pronounced the best!). And then at the last meeting one person simply forgot Cake Club was on and rocked up empty-handed, which we generously overlooked. It's not like there isn't enough cake to go round or anything.
|Prototype 'Pacman cake'|
But yes, generally the idea is to bring a cake, eat a bit of everybody's cakes, and go 'Oooh' and 'Aaah' about everybody's cakes unless they are truly inedible - like my first attempt at banana and walnut. Photos of my friend Clare's hens appeared on Facebook at 8am the next morning showing a flock of her hens fighting over the leftovers (which was the entire cake in fact). One shot pictured two hens, each holding the end of a piece of my cake in its beak, tug-of-war style. That was the low point in my club attendance, no question.
|A victorious hen making off with her cake spoils|
As a courtesy, I will abbreviate their names to initials only!
|Early practice attempt at a cake-like entity|
J: Brought up in the country, J spoke of her attachment to the usual range of rural smells: horses, grass, hay, manure, silage etc. We asked her to please stop there as we were tucking into M's courgette and lemon icing cake at the time.
M: A policewoman by profession, M declared her abiding love of the smell of Faberge Brut, the signature scent of a fellow copper at her police station. She admitted to regularly asking him to proffer his arm so she can sniff it - I am assuming a short sleeved scenario here.
C: C kicked off with a typical childhood scent memory of her mother's silk scarves impregnated with perfume, and of her father's old woollen cardigan that smelt just of 'dad', and which she snuggled for some time after his death. But then her memories took a more avant-garde turn, as she recalled a gift of AnaisAnais from a boyfriend who - as she later found out to her horror - turned out to be married. Another policeman in fact, but not the current sniffing subject of M. AnaisAnais had in fact bordered on being C's signature scent during her time with a previous boyfriend, but the policeman's purchase of it was purely fortuitous. AnaisAnais was very common at the time - the Coco Mademoiselle of its day, if you will. So as you can imagine, any positive associations with it were now well and truly out the window following the wife revelation, so C set about disposing of the bottle in a psychologically cathartic way.
With the help of her father (still very much around at the time, and doubtless sporting the favourite cardy), C positioned the family's metal dustbin a challenging distance away and proceeded to throw the bottle at it. The idea was to get it in the bin, but a lateral smash would have been a perfectly acceptable outcome. On the first few attempts her aim was wide of the mark, but eventually the bin was moved to a position which was both pleasingly far away and yet within range of her increasingly ferocious underhand bowling, and she was gratified to hear the clunk of the bottle hitting the inside of the bin and shattering. Which nicely exorcised the memory of both scent and associated Lothario.
|Source: Wikimedia Commons|
K: But in terms of rum stories, the best was yet to come, for K casually revealed that she associated the scent of Revlon Charlie (didn't get the exact colour, but it scarcely matters, as you will see) with third form biology classes, specifically with the lessons where they had to dissect rats. In order to get full value out of the rats' complex and extensive anatomy, they would dissect one rat and - I don't know - look at its heart or whatever, then the teacher would pop them back in the freezer till the next time. On retrieving these rigid, semi-mutilated corpses, K and her classmates would recoil at the smell - formaldeyde? freezer coolant? general odour of deceased rat that's been round the block a bit? (she didn't elaborate) - and promptly spray Revlon Charlie all over it before the next round of dissection, which apparently made the 'net pong' half way tolerable. To this day she hasn't personally worn any variant of Charlie, strange to tell.
Do you - or does anyone you know - have any scent memories that are right out of left field, so to speak? The more bizarre the better. Do share them in the comments!
And meanwhile here is a photo of a cake I made the other night completely out of synch with club meetings - my first wholly gratuitous bake, you could say. It nicely used up some very elderly and spotty bananas and I must say I am rather pleased with how it turned out. No pressure to perform, that'll be it...