Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Perfume, smell and my family

I'm not sure what it is, but recently I have been missing my family, and by family I mean not my wife and daughters (much as I love them, bless them), but my mum, dad and sisters in particular. 

My mum passed away almost six years ago, and not a day passes without thinking about her in some way. I should admit that my mum was not always the easiest person to get along with; she could be fractious and difficult. But one thing I am certain of - she loved all of us immensely, whatever some of her failings may have been. As for failings, we all have them, don't we, no matter how much better we sometimes think we are than our parents. My mum's birthday is on the 10th of December, always a poignant and slightly melancholy time for us. 

Back to the living, as for my dad and sisters, they are scattered far and wide. I live in England, my older sister lives in Australia, while my dad and younger sister live in South Africa, where I grew up. As much as we do try to get together from time to time, in reality it is only every other year at best, usually longer than that. Of course, absence makes the heart grow fonder and living apart has meant that we, perhaps ironically, perhaps not, have grown closer in some ways, and when we do get together, these are usually joyous occasions. Christmas time can be tough though. In the early days of my wife and I living in England, the festive season was anything but. I can recall some very lonely winters in the early part of last decade. Now that we have our own children, I find that Christmas has become wonderful again and we are making our own family and its traditions a reality right here in old Blighty. 

So, what has this to do with perfume, you ask? Well, nothing really! I just felt like writing about something other than perfume, and to reveal what is on my mind at this time of year. But seeing as this is a perfume blog after all, let me tell you what my fragrance associations with my family are. My mum always wore perfume, but was by no means a perfume addict. One perfume I do distinctly remember her wearing was the original Eau de Gucci (c. 1982), by Gucci, which is now sadly discontinued. Some people say that a son usually marries a version of his mother. Well, I don't know if that's true, but the first perfume I bought for my wife (then girlfriend) was Eau de Gucci. My wife still has the bottle with a few little drops in it, partly because it's special I suppose, and, I like to think, that she knows it was a perfume my mum liked to wear. My dad was a Old Spice man in the seventies and part of the eighties, like a lot of men I think. The smell of Old Spice is as familiar to me as any other smell I can recall. As my dad got older he started wearing Tsar by Van Cleef and Arpels for some reason, and also enjoyed Dior's Fahrenheit. Incidentally I love both of these as well. And my sisters? Well, to be honest, I haven't a clue what my older sister likes to wear, while the younger swears by L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake and Tommy Girl!

At the risk of coming across a bit morbid, every now and then I rummage through my wife's perfume box and bring out the Eau De Gucci, look at it, take the cap off and just indulge in a little sniff. And when I do, I think of my mother, and think of the good.


  1. Michael, what a great post! I appreciate you breaking with form and revealing something of your family life. After all, us perfumistas have full lives and varied interests. Certainly, nothing can bring back memories faster than scent. And you're right - we are all complicated beings that are brilliant and flawed. Coming to terms with that in ourselves - and others - may take a lifetime. My thoughts are with you as you near your mother's birthday. Take good care.

  2. Yes, so good to hear about you and your family. *hugs* And sniffing that perfume to me isn't at all morbid - it seems to me like a beautiful ritual.

    Thanks Michael

  3. Thanks for the comments Josephine and Frida. I really do appreciate the thoughts.



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