|Could the label be more admonitory?|
When sending perfume, it gets more tricky when you have a package full of homemade samples or decants, as is frequently my - and other fumeheads' - wont. The Post Office doesn't have a category for these, so you have to pretend they are the manufacturer's carded samples or the clerk could refuse to accept the package altogether. And because of problems with these grey areas of classification, I tend to flit from PO to PO in the hope that I will find more accommodating staff the further I roam - or staff who have yet to brand me as an awkward and deviant customer at least. I am reminded of those people who are addicted to over-the-counter painkillers, and travel far and wide to supermarkets and chemists out of their normal area, scoring a couple of packets of their analgesic of choice in each outlet.
So up till now you will have heard me speak no ill of perfume, other than to note that a few all-natural scents occasionally brought me out in a rash, prompting me to desist from wearing the stuff for a while.
|Could I construe this as the 'Serge Lutens shroud'?|
And then the other week, I was making up a swap package comprising lots of little vials of precisely the unorthodox type the Royal Mail cannot contend with, when I accidentally spilt a couple of ml of Serge Lutens Un Lys directly on my dining room table. It is sod's law that if such a mishap were going to happen, it would be with a Paris Exclusive of which I had very little left in the first place. However, it was not so much the wasted perfume that troubled me as the fact that old Serge fetched the varnish / colour right off a small patch of a beloved piece of furniture. Seemingly it is a case of redoing the whole top for a proper even finish, though I did have a tentative go on just the affected area with a selection of materials from olive oil to Pledge. There are some really random restorative agents cited on the Internet, would you believe? - I am sure salt and ammonia, white spirits and vinegar were amongst them. Maybe I will eventually come to think of the pale patch as yet another characterful sign of the table's great age (it dates from 1790), along with a number of other dents and black rings it has sustained down the years - presumably from flagons of porter and the like.
|Resin crystals - 'myrrh trouble than it was worth'...;)|
So that was one incident of perfume behaving badly...The next also occurred in the dining room, though it wasn't directly caused by perfume. Still, perfumery materials were involved and were the immediate trigger for what was to follow...
A little while ago - ever on the lookout for new ways of experiencing scent - I had a go at burning some myrrh crystals that my friend Gillie had given me around the time of the We Three Kings joint blogging project in 2010. The procedure involves igniting a charcoal disc and dropping a few crystals on it once it starts to smoulder. The crystals are supposed to emit a fragrant smoke - we are back to the very origins of perfume and its name indeed ('per fumum') - from the days when ancient Egyptians would burn incense as a sacrifice to their gods.
Except that the overriding scent I got from my own experiment was of the burning charcoal - I was strongly reminded of barbecue fuel, while the myrrh scent was undetectable. I wondered if I had set the crystals on the disc too soon, before it had settled down to a quieter burn rate - a case of 'premature incineration', if you will. Anyway, Gillie offered to come over this weekend with her own resin-burning tackle, and show me how it should be done. Accordingly, Saturday lunchtime found us sitting at my dining room table, rubbing our respective crystals in our hands to see which ones were properly fragrant. It seems my myrrh crystals had pretty much lost their scent for whatever reason, so we decided to burn a blend of Gillie's, containing frankincense and myrrh.
Before getting stuck into our pyrotechnical antics, Gillie suggested we open a window. I should mention that my windows are the old-fashioned sash style - I have since learnt that their full name is 'vertical double-hung box-framed sliding sash windows', which I find oddly amusing. I don't open my windows very often, and sometimes they are quite sticky when I try to do so, on account of a fairly recent paint job. You have to push the bottom pane up from the top with all your might, basically. We did eventually get the bottom pane to shift up, but somehow - and it is all a queasy-making blur now - I managed to trap my finger between the two wooden frames. Gillie responded with lightning speed, yanking the pane down again and freeing my rather limp and lifeless digit. An afternoon in A & E later, we established that it wasn't broken, but crushed and cut, and I will lose the nail in due course. Which is a bit ironic, as after years of nail biting I had just kicked this childhood habit for long enough to paint my nails. A purple colour to boot (Chanel Paradoxal), which is also ironic, as the injured nail is doubtless that colour naturally now, though I couldn't bear to look - not even at the X-Ray! For the rest of yesterday and all last night I had to keep the finger elevated above my heart, but I think the bleeding has stopped now, so I can do a few more things with the hand. Though not peel carrots. Or change the bedding. Or type properly.
So this one-handed post has taken rather longer than usual!
And Gillie and I agreed to take a rain check on the incense burning, possibly opening the front door instead next time. I will report back if I crack it some day and would recommend this presumably more intense fragrance experience. Meanwhile, it's back to joss sticks and matches for me. And I shan't be sporting a full set of painted nails any time soon...