|Source: The Voodoo Rooms|
That said, 'knitting perfumistas', while not exactly two a penny, are by no means as rare as hen's teeth - and may in fact be commoner than I think. On the other hand, perfumistas who are also fans of The Monochrome Set are an altogether different - as in highly sliverish - intersecting set, in punning Venn diagram parlance. To date, for example, there is Val the Cookie Queen, who got into the music in the 80s, when she lived in Amsterdam. She and husband Chris have now clocked up four gigs with me in Germany and Austria, where she massively endeared herself to the band with epic feats of impromptu roadie-ing.
Up next is Katie Puckrik, who attended her first Monochrome Set gig in 1980, the same year as me, though she saw the band in Washington DC, and I saw them in the Tottenham Court Road(!). I cannot honestly say whether Katie has an ongoing interest in the music, but I am shoehorning her into our intersecting set until I hear to the contrary!
Then we have Susanna Pellinen, who was a moderator on Basenotes about ten years ago when I used to hang out there - and may still be, indeed! - it's just that I never visit the site now. I know Susanna has a ton of Monochrome Set records, as she has posted attractive montages of her collection on the band's Facebook page, though I can't speak to her gigging history.
But the most striking and dramatic crossover of our two sets has to be Rachael Potts. Rachael has the double distinction of being a perfumista and married to Tony Potts, the band's video maker of yore, who is widely regarded as the TMS equivalent of 'The Fifth Beatle'. Rachael was arguably catapulted into fandom by dint of her attachment to Tony, rather than getting into the band organically like the rest of us through the normal channels of record shops, the NME, the John Peel show etc. However, she is now a card carrying lover of the music in her own right, quite independently of spousal influence / three line whippery. ;)
Finally I could count a slightly looser category of people associated in some way with The Monochrome Set, namely those whose interest in niche perfume I have in some way encouraged - equating to a small handful, certainly. Posts about my fragrancing exploits within the wider band scene do pop up from time to time, for example about Jessica of The Would-be-goods, and her (now happily concluded) rose perfume quest.
|Source: Edinburgh Spotlight|
And then recently....drum roll...a reader of various perfume blogs (including Bonkers) named Crikey 'came out' as someone who had been to a Monochrome Set gig in the mid-90s, at the 12-Bar Club in London, right before the group split up (again!). I only went to three gigs in the 90s - none of them beyond 1992 - so I was most interested to hear of someone who heard their UK swan song, as it were. Though the swan turned out to have strong phoenix-like proclivities, for here they are, still touring some 20+ years later.
But firstly, how good an Internet handle is Crikey? So quintessentially British, so understated and faintly retro. I am not aware of a blog reader called 'Blimey' or 'Golly', but there is surely a vacancy for both. Crikey and I have engaged in a few perfume swaps, plus she had the misfortune to win one of my most ludicrously lacklustre raffle prizes - a strangely sexist perfume book focusing on mainstream classics of the 20th century - so, you know, we had already had a bit to do with each other postally, and by email.
But when I heard Crikey was thinking of coming to a gig in her home town of Edinburgh in April, I was beyond delighted! There were several concerts in a northern cluster, and I managed to get round them all as well as spending several nights with Sibling and SIL Bonkers (aka Hazel). The Edinburgh gig was the last date, held (as is customary) in the highly characterful Voodoo Rooms, noted for its fin de siecle grandeur, and featuring ornate chandeliers, gilded swag-type architectural mouldings, and special offers on gin. It was in The Voodoo Rooms that I famously spotted an Andy Tauer lookalike called Graeme, and ended up devoting a whole post to this remarkable Doppelgaengerish incident.
Crikey and I didn't make a specific arrangement to meet in advance, as I wasn't sure quite what was happening in terms of my own logistics, plus those of several other friends I knew were coming. These included my 'dancing partner' of 13 years, Ruth from Belfast, and a former band member from Staffordshire(!), now resident in Edinburgh. Things worked out really well though, for Crikey arrived just as our party were finishing eating, and we adjourned to another part of the bar for a proper chat - initially just the two of us, but gradually joined by Ruth, then the current keyboard player, Jon, then Sian, a former keyboard player(!), and last but not least Jane Barnes, the promoter.
While the two of us were together, Crikey most generously gave me a little travel pot of Frederic Malle's Portrait of a Lady, which just happens to connect me to two of the other fumehead fans I have come to know - Katie Puckrik and Val. For when I first properly met Katie she was wafting PoaL on her pashmina - my first encounter with the scent too - while Val has worn it to at least one TMS gig. I distinctly remember her spritzing herself with abandon with PoaL in an underground car park in Augsburg, though not on the most recent occasion, when she was rocking Dior Oud Ispahan. But PoaL is an absolute link amongst us all now - a gossamer scented thread, if you will - and I have worn it several times since I got home, enjoying in particular the intensely rosy note in the drydown.
Before the others joined us, Crikey and I also had time for a 'turbo download' about our respective lives: Crikey is a world class power lifter in her spare time, lifting being another thing she has in common with Val, along with statement lippie, short stature, a love of cats, and more besides. I was also pleased to hear about - and see photos of - Crikey's two cats, the charmingly chubby-cheeked Herschel and the newest addition, monochrome-themed ;) Atkins. In case anyone is curious, Crikey was sporting Encens Mythique d'Orient by Guerlain, while I was in my new winter squeeze (it was still winter then, believe it or not!) of House of Cherry Bomb Immortal Beloved.
And then before we knew it, it was time to go into the venue itself, as the gig was about to start. Jane had thoughtfully reserved a table for our party near the front, so we had the option of sitting or standing, and most importantly, somewhere to deposit coats, bags and drinks!
Crikey told me afterwards that she had very much enjoyed the set - and later in an email added that it had serendipitously featured a number of her favourite tracks - but sadly had to head home straight afterwards, as it was technically a school night, as it were. The rest of us took root at our table, and had an interesting conversation about how all people can be divided into one of two types, foxes and hedgehogs (FYI, I count myself as an out-and-out hedgehog, though with a small 'standby' fox somewhere deep inside, to be deployed in dire emergencies). We also drank the remains of the wine rider, and were finally ejected by the venue staff in the wee small hours (as is also customary).
The next day, I bumped into Jon, who mentioned that he would be glad for me to find him a perfume if I was up for that, and that he was completely open in terms of fragrance style. Are bears Catholic?!?! So I eagerly said yes, and now I would be grateful if readers could help me with that. For info, Jon has long hair and a beard, but typically wears gender bending stage outfits that nod towards the 70s. Here he is in Newcastle the other night...while the shot above was taken in Germany or Austria - I can't quite remember which. ;)
Any suggestions gratefully received! I hope to assemble a little clutch of half a dozen or so samples for him to try. So far I have set aside Rima XI, as it is a wispy woody number that might fit the bill. I wouldn't exclude an outright feminine fragrance either. Also, Jon enjoys a swift half or two, so I wondered also about Penhaligon's Tralala, which has a whisky note and even features in the lyrics of a TMS song!
Finally, I have the good fortune to be seeing Val and Tara and a whole clatter of other perfumistas tomorrow in London! No more TMS fans to my knowledge in our midst, though I should perhaps just check....
|Jon looking happy on a train|