Then this week wasn't actually free of dermatological incident in any case: I had a bad reaction to raw garlic and/or onion on Tuesday evening while engaging in a rare bout of cooking. That'll teach me! Turns out they are poisonous plants, to dogs at least, so go figure. Luckily, thanks to a timely tip off from Lisa Jones, the immediate deployment of a couple of new weapons in my skincare armoury from the Avene range - specially formulated for 'peaux intolerantes' - had things back under control by the middle of the next day.
Two days later saw the installation of a new dishwasher, seven weeks after the polystyrene cube was deposited by the delivery men in the middle of the dining room floor. The excitement I felt to see the appliance in position at last triggered a completely out of character five hour flurry of kitchen cleaning. One cupboard leads to another, you know how it is... And in the course of this operation, my hands inevitably came into contact with a wide range of powerful cleaning agents, as I didn't wear rubber gloves consistently throughout. Cue flare up No 2! Cooking, cleaning...why, I have only myself to blame. ;)
Friday saw the visit of an antiquarian book dealer, who had come to appraise a small selection of my late father's enormous collection of theological and devotional books. We holed ourselves up at the dining room table for a couple of hours: I passed the lady each book in turn, which she examined with professional care, noting the type and quality of paper, the lie of the ribbon marker, the pattern of end papers, the clasps, the binding - no aspect was left unturned. She was also looking for any rips or tears, missing pages, faded covers, brown stains or foxing, loose stitching, defacement in the form of underlining / annotations / colouring in(!) by lost generations of Victorian children - and most pertinently in the context of this post, she put the books to her nose and inhaled deeply, on the look out for any which had a musty smell.
For as with old clothes in a wardrobe, a musty smell is not a desirable aspect in an old book, and detracts from its appeal, and ultimately also its value. I watched rapt, as the book dealer conscientiously sniffed each volume. Humidity is the main culprit in causing books to go mildewy, and some cursory research on the Net has unearthed a surprising number of strategies for removing this unpleasant odour, including baking soda, cat litter(!), coffee grounds, charcoal briquettes, clothes dryer sheets, newspaper, and something called 'MicroChamber paper', incorporating zeolite molecular traps, whatever they may be. Unfortunately, my father's books run into the thousands, so the logistics of submitting the mustier volumes to one or more of these ingenious remedies make this pretty much a non-starter.
Then by Saturday, my skin was in a holding pattern of good behaviour, and at a gig that night, I risked both makeup and perfume for the first time in a while. My SOTE was the very addictive Geisha Noire from Aroma M. I shan't attempt a full review of it, as I couldn't possibly top The Silver Fox's glorious paean here. I will just say that Geisha Noire is a smouldering, furrily sensuous, ceremonial cupcake of a scent that did not feel out of place in the atmospheric venue, a converted church, partly dating back to 1270. Interesting factoid - one of the 49 rectors to have officiated in St Mary at the Walls (as it was called in its consecrated days) turns out to be the grandson of Thomas Twining, founder of the tea company of that name, whose 'Everyday' tea bags are standard issue in the Premier Inn where we were staying.
I had several unprompted compliments on Geisha Noire from other audience members, and one of the band pronounced it 'sweet', before adding: 'It's nice', in case I might construe that as a criticism. I am afraid I completely forgot to sniff any of my friends - including Caryne, the diehard Lush fan, and Andy, whom I introduced to Ormonde Jayne. I did at least chat about perfume to my Swedish friend Louise. (Check out this post for the lowdown on Stockholm's perfume trail during my stay with her in 2009.)
|Courtesy of Louise Bodin
As we strolled though the churchyard during the very noisy support act, Louise told me about her recent perfume purchases in a British branch of T K Maxx: L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu and a Penhaligon's whose name escaped her, except that it began with 'z'. (That was easy to check later - my money is on Zizonia!)
And speaking of Penhaligon's, the band played 'Stick Your Hand Up if You're Louche', with its reference to Tralala mentioned in a recent post. As you can see, the bass player took this opportunity to come clean. We were in a church, after all.