Tuesday 29 September 2015

Lily of The Hidden Valley (aka 'the drink not taken'): Decennial Lys du Desert review

Source: Tripadvisor
So the perfume sale has come and gone, and I have managed to move on a few things - most of which have yet to reach their destinations, so I am inevitably in a state of nail-biting limbo until they do. Crucially, I managed to shift the Bag of Hell / Indifference, which was going for free and went in the end to Samantha of I Scent You A Day, for whom it was a Bag of Possibility / Promise, which was great. She kindly sent me a handful of samples in return, having taken care to check my preferences in advance, so as not to end up accidentally giving me the starting material for the next 'Bag of Oh No, The Samples I'm Not Wild About Are Mounting Up Again'! ;)

Now the scent that really knocked me for six - in a good way - was Decennial Lys du Desert, which notwithstanding its Gallic character appears to have lost its accent somewhere over the Atlantic. For Lys du Desert is one of a quartet of scents launched by the iconic US perfume e-tailer/store, Luckyscent/Scent Bar, to mark its tenth anniversary. The nose is none other than Andy Tauer, while the other three fragrances were created by Jerome Epinette (who has at least one accent in his name, but a combination of inertia on my part and the interests of brand congruence forbid me from adding it). I have historically had a mixed hit rate with Tauer Perfumes, even though my only full bottle purchase last year was PHI Rose de Kandahar, and I have also taken a belated shine to Une Rose Vermeille. For years I was something of a Tauer refusenik - or Tauer 'reluctantnik', if you will - and found his early work too fuzzy and smoky and generally heavyhanded on the old Tauerade. The other perfume with 'desert' in its name - L'Air du Désert Marocain', henceforth abbreviated to LADDM, as is the convention in perfume circles - was the glorious exception that proved the rule, albeit it was also quite strong, and I had to be in the wood for it - I mean 'mood'(!), but that may be a cedar-y Freudian slip.

Source: basenotes.net

Before accepting Samantha's generous offer to let me have the remains of her sample, I googled the reviews of Lys du Desert and lit upon one by The Non-Blonde in which Gaia notes the kinship between Lys du Desert and LADDM, and reckons people may find this scent more wearable. I see that Jtd of Scenthurdle (writing on Parfumo.net) considers Lys du Desert a stylistic bridge between Orange Star and Noontide Petals. Well, I am retesting both of those (albeit my sample of Orange Star may have gone off on the QT), but I can't say I 'get' that connection myself. For me the obvious comparison is hands down with LADDM. Props to Jtd though for consistently adding the accent. ;)

The amusing genesis of Lys du Desert is narrated on Andy Tauer's blog, where he explains that over a breakfast of pancakes with Franco and Adam of Luckyscent, he agreed to compose a perfume for their commemorative Decennial line, which would be based on his own happy experiences of camping and hiking in the Joshua Tree National Park. He refers to this as not so much a formal commission as a 'pancakission'. A man after my own heart. Specifically, it was the scent of the fleshy, creamy Desert Lily itself that was the cornerstone of Tauer's inspiration.

Source: calflora.net

As the blurb on the Luckyscent explains:

'The Desert Lily was in full bloom in the Pinto Basin - a rare occurrence only a few weeks out of the year. It's white lily scent was intoxicating, with hints of green freshness that reminded him (Tauer) of the oasis at Cottonwood Springs, a site with lush green vegetation at the north entryway. His ode to what spawned LA - the rugged yet delicate, unforgiving yet captivating desert - is captured in Lys du Desert.'

Notes: bergamot, rose, green lily, dry cistrose, iris root, ambergris, dry cedar

On first spraying, I get the characteristic warm, muzzy tingle that is Tauerade, but to my nose in the softest and most gentle register yet. The end is already in the beginning, and I have no problem with that. And the lily is not immediately apparent on my skin - I can just about pick up on what may be powdery iris and dry cistrose but it is hard to know, as they are swooningly melded into the arid, woody-amber base. I really don't mind if the lily is playing hide-and-seek though, as the overall impression is so gentle and dreamy - I'd even go so far as to say 'spiritual' if I was that way inclined. Yes, I think Lys du Desert could give Etro's Messe de Minuit a run for its money in the religiosity department, though it is completely free of that dank, ecclesiastical flagstone vibe. And if LADDM conjures up a bed in a hotel room directly overlooking a souk in Morocco, Lys du Desert makes me think of this room at the Desert Lily B & B in the Joshua Tree National Park.

Source: Tripadvisor

So... I have only just twigged that part of the Mojave Desert is one of two ecozones in this park.

Long time readers may recall my travelogues from California, but the despatches specifically from the Mojave Desert may bear repetition here - for although I was a ways to the North West between Mojave and Tehachapi, intent on winkling out Nissen huts that were home to maintenance engineers on the ginormous wind farm there, I cannot fail to have noticed umpteen examples of the tree in question, for the landscape is fairly homogeneous in that regard.

For your convenience, I have combined extracts from two relevant posts in one handy mash up. ;) If you remember them, jump to below the wavy line of tildes...!

The Mojave desert itself

'Finally, no catalogue of road surfaces would be complete without a description of my intrepid trip up a mountain (taller than Ben Nevis!) in the Mojave Desert. I had an appointment with an executive at a wind farm operating company, and his prefabricated office was conveniently located on the summit. When we arranged the meeting, he strongly recommended that I rent a 4 x 4, warning me of the dangers that could befall the hapless motorist if it had recently rained. The 5 mile dirt track to his office would have been transformed in a matter of hours into a river of mud, and a regular compact car risked becoming mired in the sludge, wheels spinning uselessly, if they spun at all.

I mulled over my respondent's advice long and hard, but in the end my phobia of large clumpy vehicles far outweighed my fear of mudslides, and I rented the sub-compact Chevy mentioned in my previous post. I decided that if it did rain the night before my meeting, there was nothing for it but to get up in the small hours, borrow a Miner's headlamp and a pair of Wellingtons - from where I hadn't quite figured out - and attempt the climb on foot.

As luck would have it, the day dawned bright and sunny - and windy. The 5000 turbines on this, the second largest collection of wind generators in the world, were earning their keep that day, like demented, oversized daisies. I made steady progress up the mountainside in second gear - or what I imagined would have been second gear if I wasn't driving an automatic. 40 minutes later I reached the summit, and when I got out of the car the wind nearly blew the door off! As for my hair...well, suffice to say that a single 80mph gust instantly transformed my slightly blowsy style into the most convincing faux-Puckrik ever! On balance, a blob of gloop probably remains a more practical everyday option.'

Now are those wind turbines or Joshua trees?

Followed by my brief desert encounter...

'But my finest stunt in a Denny's restaurant was picking up a 20-something airforce mechanic in a remote village in the desert. No, I will rephrase that - I did nothing of the sort - he merely struck up conversation with me from the next booth, and after we had both finished our meals, cordially invited me to accompany him to find a bar (this was a dry Denny's, to go with the local terrain).

Reader, I declined, pleading paperwork, but thinking that that would be too much excitement on a school night, while my inner Health & Safety Representative said I shouldn't be getting into any strange men's cars whom I had only known long enough for them to eat a customised French Toast grand slam. My heart, on the other hand, said he was a perfectly decent young man and a credit to his country, and the innocent invitation had been prompted by the inevitable loneliness that comes with chronic solo dining.

My hotel in Mojave - called Desert Winds! ~ Source: Tripadvisor

When I told Mr Bonkers about this encounter, he seemed quite proud of me for showing that I can still pull someone young enough to be my son. A feat even more impressive when you factor in the American Eagle Outfitters cable knit sweater and 9 yr old boot leg jeans - an ensemble strictly confined to in-home comfort wear (which of course Denny's had more or less become by that point : - ) ). And the non-deterrent effect of the outfit reminds me in turn of the time I was mistaken for a hooker down by the Hudson River while wearing a full length camel coat and aran bobble hat.'


And the association of my time in the desert with Denny's brings us neatly back to pancakes - or almost certainly would have done, had it been morning. The flower whose tender sensuality is subtly and elusively woven through this composition I shall hereby dub 'Lily of The Hidden Valley'. As with the bag of samples I gave to Samantha, Lys du Desert is the scent of possibility that is blowing in the warm, soothing wind. It's the scent of throwing caution - and accents! - TO the winds, even. And it is the road - and the drink - not taken, my 'lily-livered' reaction to a chance invitation from an all-American boy...

But I am not sorry I said no. I did have work the next day. And frankly I felt empowered enough by my navigational exploits up hill and down dale tracking down these wind farm mechanics. In terms of logistical feats in my line of work, it may well have been my finest hour. So just as Lys du Desert is the scent of Andy Tauer's hiking holidays, for me it will forever signify the exhilaration of having my work take me to this remote and majestic spot. Take me there and get me safely out again, with the job in the bag.

Hidden Valley, Joshua National Park ~ Source: Tripadvisor

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Kitten impossible: A new ****** Bonkers is coming soon! (Plus a naming poll - of sorts!)

The Bonkers kitten is at the top!
I watched an interesting TV programme last night, in which the producers deprived three teenage girls of their smartphones for 48 hours to see if they would cope. The trio were using them anything from 3 to 5+ hours a day. I mention this because for the past three weeks, I have been surfing kittens on the Internet - yes, in our technologically advanced era of online dating and the like, surfing kittens is also a 'thing'! - for a good few hours a day at a guess. For nearly three years on from the demise of Charlie Bonkers, I was on a mission to find another furry companion to fill the cat-shaped hole in my life - of which, over time, I was becoming more acutely aware - however my very specific criteria were rendering the search quite tricky.

You see, owing to some upcoming travel plans, there were only two possible windows for the receipt of said kitten. Then it needed to be based within a drivable distance for the pick up and to be aged between 8-10 weeks at that point (I was reluctant to miss too much of the short uber-cuteness window!). It also needed to have been well cared for in the early weeks of life, not to have long hair (two of my friends had impressed upon me the high maintenance nature of extra fluffy cats), and not to be too expensive. For there is usually a cost involved, even when rehoming a cat from a rescue centre. And reading between the lines, the vast majority of '£0 cats' in the classified ads came with baggage - and I am not just talking about their own basket and scratching post. So some cost was actually a kind of reassurance, while too much stood out as flagrant monetising. (Unless you are talking a pedigree, who are obviously in a different price league.) Additionally I didn't want the cat to be 'too pointy' or hairless - that ruled out the admittedly rather small category of Sphynx cats! - and I wanted the kitten to be the perfect mix of outgoing and friendly, but not so exuberant as to be likely to rip the furniture to shreds. And not too highly strung or moody. Oh, and not too vocal. Not that such personality traits can necessarily be determined in advance. ;).

The late Charlie Bonkers snoozing in the sun

And most importantly of all - and arguably most shallowly of me, you could say! - I had very specific criteria in terms of the animal's markings...partly based on general aesthetics and partly on my cat owning history ie I didn't want to adopt a kitten who looked similar to one I had had in the past. This narrowed the field to tabby and white or orange/ginger and white, and that was about it! In my capacity as market researcher I would observe that about half the cats in Britain appear to be black or black and white. I already feed a black cat belonging to a friend, and in my street you are never more than six foot away from a black and white cat, most of whom I pet in passing if they will let me, so the monochrome box is well and truly ticked already. This undoubtedly made the search heaps more difficult than it would have been if my colour preferences had been more flexible.

Charlie and Miro - 1995

Now it is 20 years ago since I last rehomed a pair of kittens, and back then you would get word of a litter through friends of friends of friends, postcards in shop windows, the vet's, or ads in local papers. There have of course always been rescue centres as another route, but what has changed in the intervening time is the explosion of online ad sites such as Gumtree and Preloved and many more. I did put my name down with several rescue centres, who promised to get in touch - in the first instance to vet my house and street for their suitability, however, with one exception they didn't get back to me. This was doubtless for very good reasons ie that they were busy rescuing bags of kittens from dustbins or what have you, but it meant that I felt quite passive in the process, and there was a chance that they might never contact me - or have a kitten answering my draconian description! - in my critical window for taking one home. So I dived back into the private sector, to have more control of my options - and more choice to start with.

And in the course of my exhaustive - and exhausting! - googling of kittens I quickly realised that as with estate agent speak, there is also a kind of jargon at work here...

'Stunning! gorgeous!' - unremarkable with one rheumy eye
'Last one remaining!' - as above
'Looking for its forever home' - as above, with possible added behavioural difficulties
'Playful' - will bite your hand off
'Will hopefully soon be litter trained' - behavioural difficulties already apparent
'URGENT - must go asap!' - the landlord is throwing us out
'Comes with scratching post and carrying basket' - it's a complete psycho and I never want to own a cat again.
'Has been socialised around children' - the poor creature is traumatised from having fingers constantly poked in its ears.

The photographs in the ads were of very mixed quality too. The ones where the kitten was very small and distant or completely absent were of particular concern. They should perhaps have had the caption 'Stunning! Very mobile!' In other cases the kitten pictured was at the peak of its cute phase, but a closer correlation of birth and current dates revealed that it was in fact a year and a half, and proving difficult to shift.

Then on Sunday I spotted a picture which caught my eye of three very new kittens curled up together. Posting an image of a kitten that new is quite high risk, as they can resemble furry slugs/stoats/sausage-shaped draught excluders, but this litter was so pretty that extreme youth was no barrier to their appeal. I booked a slot to view them on Monday, with a pale tabby particularly in mind, and the face-to-face encounter with this tiny, fragile, cheeping creature clinched the deal.

So for the next seven weeks I will be known as 'Vanessa White Tabby' in the contacts of a lady in Leicester's phone. The pictures show the kitten's mum Nala, and I also met its granny, Daisy. Oh yes...the little thing is only 8 days old but already has that reassuring 'M' for 'Musson' on her head. ;) And a bonus white tummy.

Mum Nala, working the black eyeliner!

So the next job is of course to choose a name for the new ****** Bonkers. I have a few favourite contenders, but thought I would share the (still rather long!) shortlist with readers in case you could tip me one way or another with your own leanings - or indeed think of something completely new.

Truffle - combines confectionery with a 'riffling through fur' kind of term. A friend also pointed out that it would work well 'shouted in anger'.

Salome - ancestral name (see earlier post)

Shimna - a favourite river in Northern Ireland, in which I would like my ashes scattered one day.

Floozy - suggested by Tara, and makes me smile every time I say it. Could easily be shouted in anger, say if the kitten persists in having her legs in the air (scroll down...!).

Crumpet / Trollop - variants of Floozy ;)

Moth - I just like the delicate flutteriness of this one, plus there will hopefully be a future launch by Papillon called 'White Moth'.

Tilde - kitten has wiggly lines on the side of her head. Also sounds reminiscent of Tilda Swinton, who is no bad role model. Here is my rather whimsical review of Like This!

Sable - the epitome of furry luxury

Cinta - Indonesian for love, and a shortened form of the Spanish Jacinta, meaning hyacinth. It is also a variant of the Spanish for Cynthia (and the kitten looks like a bit of a madam all right!). Finally, there is a cute tiger cub in London Zoo of this name. Pronounced 'Ceenta'.

Pernod - the kitten's fur is currently the same sort of milky/cloudy colour, plus the name contains a homonym of 'purr'.

Latte - as above, and sounds like 'catty'.

What is she like?!?!

Mizzle / Wevet / Dimpse - it's a Farrow & Ball thing...;)

Marble - her markings looks a bit like one?

Shale - evokes the idea of geological striations, but with unfortunate connotations of fracking!

Tilly / Viola / Ruby / Fleur / Plum / Bronte / Prudence - pretty retro names

Cognac - her mum and granny have quite rich brown tabby markings, so with this one am aiming off for how her fur might develop.

Polenta - companion name to Lady Jane Grey's Couscous!

Baroness Chipolata von Currywurst(!) - suggested by a rather waggish friend, with a possible shortened form of 'Chippy'.

Hendricks  / Sapphire / Tonic - gin related names - say no more!

Castell - Spanish name of a lady in Stafford who runs up curtains (as kittens are wont to do, though I very much hope this one won't).

Allegra - Milton, anyone? (Slightly adapted, admittedly.)

Poubelle - French for bin. A friend in France observed: 'Cats are rubbish!'

Nougat, Praline, Topic, Flake, Wispa - more confectionery names that I mostly like for no particular reason.

Do any of those names appeal to you? Any other ideas? I would love your input!

You will look after her, won't you?

UPDATE: Couldn't resist checking the original ad where I found the kitten, and not surprisingly, her boldly striped littermate has also found an owner! ;)

NB Proper perfume posts will resume next time!

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Purgative urge prompts radical reorg and cologne clear out!

There are thematic groupings in this madness
Nearly two weeks have passed since my unreview of Salome, during which time I have found myself possessed by a post-project decluttering demon - well, a general housework demon to be exact. The catalyst for this uncharacteristic bout of domesticity may have been the arrival (and subsequent upcycling) of a blanket box / Ottoman that I got for an absolute snip in a local secondhand shop. My overflow wool stash has now been relocated from under the bed into its cavernous depths, freeing up a great deal of floor space, and simultaneously unleashing my inner tidying genie.

So it was that I spent the next two days systematically demolishing the ironing mountain (which dated back to July!), followed by a mammoth hoe-athon in the borders of the back garden. You can see a lot more earth now and considerably less ground cover, which to the untrained eye seemed mostly to comprise assorted 'weed-like entities'. Then the next two days were spent throwing away old toiletries and medicaments, ruthlessly editing my wardrobe, and sorting through the rest my perfume collection, specifically the bottles and samples that hadn't already been subject to a 'reorg' (to annexe the management term beloved of big corporates) and allocated a compartment in the wooden tray-cum-drawer insert I got from the same shop as the Ottoman.

In a kind of high speed triage exercise I tested dozens of different scents (shoulders, elbows and knees were all pressed into service in addition to the high traffic areas of wrists and forearms), and figured out what I wanted to keep - and what albatrosses I wanted to put up for sale. Well, not necessarily for sale, even. Anything that I did not pay money for (all the vintage section, basically), I am offering for free - I would just ask that you cover the cost of postage and don't re-sell it, as if anyone would! If your vintage acquisition is a) in good nick and b) you like it, feel free to make a discretionary donation to a charity near you (cancer and cats would be my top two themes, but I don't wish to be prescriptive on this point!). Otherwise pass it along to somebody else or throw it away.

The quality aspect will hopefully only be a potential issue with the vintage scents, not all of which I am familiar with, so it is hard to tell how they have evolved since they were new - which is anything up to 40 years ago! That said, I have tested them all and did not recoil once, except when smelling a couple of very retro, spicy animalic numbers that may date back to the 70s or 80s. But I would almost certainly have recoiled back then too. ;) So yes, with the vintage category a degree of mutation goes with the territory - but that will be for the recipient to determine.

NB Hypothetically, in extreme cases of new owner recoil I would be happy to refund postage paid. ;)

There are even two categories of silver atomiser - shiny and matt!

I shan't put prices on the non-vintage scents which - with one exception - I did buy myself, but if you are interested in any, drop me a line and I will work something out, including postage to wherever you are. I don't mind posting to North America, but it is a bit fraught to ship there as you know, and requires a degree of subterfuge and creative customs labelling, a challenge for which I am well up, as Churchill might have said.

And be assured that all the perfumes will all be going VERY CHEAP. Anything from a few quid each for the minis - or less veering to free if they are not full - to maybe £35 for the Creed, which is half full at a guess, and more in the realms of £10 - £30 for anything else, except the Lidl perfume, which only cost £3.99 new, hehe.


Front row:

Dita Von Teese by Dita Von Teese (nowt wrong with the scent, but the bottle has stability issues!) - SOLD

Second row (L to R): 

The Cotswold Perfumery Company Ruby - SOLD
Cloon Keen Atelier Castana (nutty jasmine scent) - SOLD
Boucheron B
Jo Malone Kohdo Wood Day Lotus Blossom and Water Lily

Third row (L to R):

Roja Dove Urban Retreat Reverie (aromatic citrus scent with notes of bergamot and lavender - discontinued!) - SOLD
Creed Love in Black - SOLD
DKNY Cashmere Mist - SOLD
Lostmarc'h L'eau de l'Hermine (sad associations with Max Rat...)
L'Eau par Kenzo l'Eau Indigo pour Femme

Back row:

Lidl Suddenly Madame Glamour (BNIB!) ;)


Front row (L to R): 

Bvlgari Omnia Green Jade
M Micallef Hiver (teeny bit left)
M Micallef Royal Vintage
Lanvin Arpege - SOLD
Chloe by Chloe
Burberry Woman

Centre row (L to R):

Clinique Simply
Sarah Jessica Parker Covet (very sweet bottle!)
Guerlain Champs Elysees (can't be bothered with accents, sorry)

Back row (curving round L to R):

Marc Jacobs Daisy (another sweet bottle!)
Burberry The Beat
Hermes Cologne Verte (slight wobbly top alert!) - SOLD
Etro Vicolo Fiori (some people were keen to explore the Etro line?) - SOLD
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle (stonking white floral) - SOLD
Versace Crystal Noir


Here the concept of rows goes somewhat out of the window...

Front row (L to R): 

Myurgia Maja perfume (review by The Non-Blonde here, in which the link to Ramon Monegal is also mentioned)
Goya Gardenia - REHOMED
Madame Rochas (was 'Brand Old in Box' when I got it! And we are talking very old indeed...)
4711 Cologne
Second Sense 1 cologne (evil spicy oriental) - REHOMED

Back row-ish (L to R):

Coty L'Aimant (70s version - I am keeping the 80s purse spray)
Houbigant Chantilly (lemon meringue number - think poor man's MCDI Promesse de l'Aube)
Royal Copenhagen mini (may suit men, or Danish nationals)
Houbigant Chantilly in a boxed set with talcum powder - also 'Brand Old in Box' till I broached it! - REHOMED
Lentheric Elle Bouquet
Lentheric Mystique (another evil spicy oriental)
Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps (yet another BOIB)


Oh, I also have this large bag of (I think mostly niche) samples to give away. I had a similar one of designer scents, which has been rehomed already with a friend's son's girlfriend - a much easier set to place, in fairness.

Don't ask me what's in it!

So there you go...I am not expecting a stampede, but there are one or two things that might appeal to specific people if they see this post. I also have minuscule amounts of Joy Parfum and 'unspecified other vintage format' of Joy which Odiferess might be interested in, for example (not pictured).

Am very happy to describe in more detail any scents people might be curious about - or they can readily be googled, except Second Sense 1, which I can't even tell you who it's by. You are clearly meant to use your Sixth Sense to figure that out. It's a monster, I can say that...Makes Salome look like a pussycat.

PS Speaking of 'rehoming' and 'pussycats', I am currently actively looking for a kitten to be the next 'xxxx Bonkers'. I am especially drawn to 'semi-long haired tabbies with a lot of white and that very defined Kohl-like look around the eye', which sadly is not a recognised search term on any of the rescue centre or classified ad websites. So if you are in the UK and see anyone offering kittens broadly answering to that description, please let me know! FYI, the three attributes I am looking for overall are 'fluffy, loving and independent'. I don't think that's a big ask - why, I like to think of myself as 'loving and independent', though at my age, 'fluffy' might be a bit of a stretch.

Thursday 3 September 2015

Papillon Perfumery Salome (not a review): thoughts on my f***h j*****y, eponymous ancestors, and nasal literacy

I'm aware that I've taken my time getting round to not reviewing Salome, the latest - truly skanktastic - release from Papillon Perfumery. I had a sample, tested it a number of times on my own skin, focus grouped it after a fashion with my friend Lizzie and her (over 18!) children - that's their age, not their total number - and took it abroad with me, despite its being the furthest thing imaginable from an 'office appropriate' scent. Well, I suppose it depends where you work... ;) And now, sadly, Salome has gone the way of my mascot Max Rat and the luggage. A light-fingered tea leaf in Tipton may be stepping out on a Saturday night in a cloud of hyraceum for all I know. At the Lyceum, even. No, wait, that's in Sheffield. Anyway, my Salome sample has gone the way of all flesh, 'all flesh' being the operative words.

You might think that it is a bit of a risky undertaking to even not review a perfume I haven't sniffed in a while. I have to say though that such are the indeterminate impressions formed by my nasal receptors even with the perfume actually present(!) that 'an emotion triggered by a scent and recollected in tranquillity'to adapt Wordsworth only slightly, is arguably enough of a basis and certainly as much as there is ever likely to be. Then I was going to call this post something like a 'Fearless Fandango of Filth', but the 'f' word has been well and truly harnessed by my fellow bloggers in their stellar reviews of Salome, and no one but no one can top The Candy Perfume Boy's masterly coinage in his review of the fragrance of a 'trifecta of filth', in reference to the three animalic notes in Salome of castoreum, hyraceum and a rather louche 'tobacco-like facet' .

Source: Papillon Perfumery

What I remember of my several testings of Salome is broadly as follows: a bright, verging on sparkling opening with a citrus and floral bouquet of some kind, which segues within a very short space of time into a phantasmagorical wallop of f***h. Said wallop starts out like the pornolfactory equivalent of a heavy velvet door curtain, but gradually dies down to the texture of shimmying satin camisoles - those very wispy ones whose straps are forever falling down, by no means always by design. Salome is a big production animalic chypre that reminded me of YSL Y and Jean Desprez's Bal a Versailles, yet Salome feels smoother, creamier, more seamlessly blended, and more classically timeless than either of those somewhat dated scents in my view, just as Joy feels 'wrong' to me nowadays. On my skin there's jasmine and there's civet in Joy, and never the twain shall meet, whereas the notes in Salome are impeccably choreographed. Bal a Versailles is also a soprano to Salome's purring alto register, and it feels less substantial, more tinny and watery. Well, in fairness I do have the EDC concentration so it is hardly a fair comparison!

I must point out, however, that on me Salome is markedly more f***hy than on my friend Lizzie and her two children. They all said that I should categorically not wear it. Then, on Lizzie's son, Salome smelt completely different - it had more of a citrus-sandalwood-leather vibe which reminded him right off the bat of Geo F Trumper's Spanish Leather. I must say I was impressed that a young man just turned 18 would even have heard of Geo F Trumper! Then on Lizzie and her daughter I detected a much expurgated version of Salome compared to on me. Even so, there was the inevitable moue of distaste from her daughter, with comments like: 'Oh no, it reminds me of the dreaded halibut eye!', a reference to the legendary coldness of her grandmother's gaze - whether in life or death I am not quite sure - who apparently wore the formidable vintage Miss Dior (as it would have been at the time), so go figure. There were further associations of Salome with fur coats and old people's homes, not all of them printable. So yes, Lizzie and her daughter also pegged Salome as vintage, but not in a way that they cared for, whereas I think Salome is an example of the floral animalic chypre genre which nods towards the past, is firmly rooted in the present, and yet will still feel relevant in decades to come, assuming you like that sort of thing. Judging by the deferred gratification being barely contained on the blogs, I'd say that Salome will most definitely 'hit the spot' (no, I did not say 'G-'!) of many a fumehead who's a fan of f***h.

A hyrax predictably coming over all unnecessary ~ Source: walkthewilderness.net

Now I didn't love Salome, but I could appreciate it as the finest example of its kind I have smelt.** Also on the plus side, I didn't run a mile, even if Lizzie's daughter made a bolt for her bedroom rather sharpish. I doubt very much that I would wear it outside the home - much like Bogue Profumo's Maai in that regard - but I could see myself enjoying the far drydown in crafty lascivious huffs at my desk, say. If I still had my sample, obviously. And coming from someone whose Basenotes handle was once 'VM I hate civet' - nay, still is, though I no longer go on there - that is praise indeed. Not that there is civet in Salome, but I could equally well have called myself 'VM I hate f***h in all its bawdy and scatalogical manifestations' back in the day. And now I am much more open-minded - and open-legged you might say, but I really hope you won't - to the notion. Salome is a cornucopia of carnality, a pot-pourri of pudenda odour, and on that lewdly alliterative note I am going to park this non-review right there.

Source: nyu.edu

As it happens, I lost my sample of Salome not once but twice - for I left it behind at Lizzie's house following that group testing session, prompting mild alarm in the family. She agreed to put it in the porch in a flower pot for me to collect at my convenience. Readers may notice a car key in the foreground, which annoyed the heck out of me when I first looked at the photo, until images of 'car keys in bowls' made me think it might in fact have been a photographic Freudian slip.

Salome sample in organza bag partially obscured by phallic key

And maybe the fact that I feel unfreaked out by Salome's raunchy underbelly - well, I use the term advisedly as the underbelly reaches all the way up to the be-tasselled nipples of my feverish imaginings - is partly due to the fact that the name Salome is very much in the family. No, really. I was the first generation not to be called Salome, at least as a middle name. The belly dancing, head on platter-toting buck stopped (figuratively) with my aunt Rowena Salome, now aged 95. But the Salomes on my father's side stretch back several centuries. And while we are on this earthy theme, I can also reveal that the Salome pictured at the top of the post had a mother who rejoiced in the name of Susan Cock, whose mother in turn was Martha Prickman. You couldn't make it up. None of the Salomes of whom there are extant photos look particularly 'unbuttoned', if you know what I mean, but you never know. They do say the quiet ones are the worst.

Oh look - two Salomes in one screenshot!, although my other aunt, Hilda Salome, sadly died as a baby. Though her aunt Salome Musson (are you keeping up? ;) ) - who married Henry George Coombs and emigrated to New Zealand - lived to be 90 and is pictured below, looking every inch the winsome - and wholesome! - spit of Jenny Agutter in The Railway Children.

And finally, what of 'nasal literacy'? By that I mean that my inability to parse individual notes in scents - or even sometimes to tell you what it makes me think of in the most loosely conjured metaphorical terms - intermittently troubles me. It did so with a vengeance in the case of Salome, because after the initial nuanced but unknown flurry of floral and citrus notes, I was left with a chypre-esque construct that I could evoke in textural terms, but otherwise had nary a clue what I was smelling beyond the catch-all term of a wall of 'f***h'. I mention it here because there are a number of perfumes I have tested lately that I really like, but my inarticulacy with those, should I attempt to feature them on Bonkers, would be even more marked. I would have recourse to the lamest statements about 'a very nice floral blend' or 'kind of masculine leaning, but I like it'. And yet I am so taken with these perfumes that I would like to commend them to you. Maybe I could do a post full of tiny 'unreviews' of unprecedented vacuousness. Because - paradoxically perhaps - it seems a shame not to write about them at all because I am stuck for words.

Source: anmal.uma.es
Anyway, I mention this issue of nasal literacy because I think my nose is getting worse in this regard and I am not sure it is acceptable to do a post along the lines indicated above. And I haven't even got the excuse of nasal cautery, like a good friend of mine. She had a special knack of making her nose bleed on demand to get out of Maths class, and didn't have the bottle to explain that there was really nothing wrong with it, so they went and flame gunned the offending blood vessel before you could say 'Matilda!'.

Spot the Salomes - two more above!

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I have become the proud owner of a 'bespoke' kitten - well, one carefully selected to meet a raft of physical and temperamental attributes after weeks spent trawling the small ads on Gumtree. So as a tribute to this strikingly singular perfume and to my near extinct ancestral line of Salomes, I decided it would be fitting to include Salome in the kitten's list of (moderately preposterous) names.

Here then is Miss Truffle Ganache Salome Bonkers at nine and a half weeks(!), practising her Odalisque pose while I endeavour to change the duvet.

PS The term 'j*****y' is an X Factor thing, about which I cannot bring myself to elaborate.

**Salome proved to be a surprise grower in the end!