Time Travel and Necromancy: the easy way.

Time Travel and Necromancy: the easy way.

No, I haven’t gone over to the Dark Side with Dr Who. Chance would be a fine thing. I’ve been following my nose as a part of a project that is as much intuitive as it is nebulous, and I’m hoping to share a snippet of some of my discoveries. After all, one of the items on my bio on Twitter and elsewhere is Explorer and while I think most people reading this blog don’t expect me to disappear into jungles wearing a pith helmet and a goofy smile and not reappear for months or years, I do the Explorer thing in a very different way. I explore inner worlds.

When I say, following my nose, I do mean literally. I’ve been exploring the world of the sense of smell. I’ve hung round department stores, come home often with a dozen little smelling strips (which make delightful book marks, by the way), visited perfume shops, and bought blind on line. I can honestly say I have no real clear idea of what I’m doing. Or really, why. But there’s been some extraordinary results.

First one I’d like to share concerns a perfume from The Library of Fragrance. http://thelibraryoffragrance.com/collections/all?page=1 They have created a sort of physical data base of all sorts of extraordinary scents: everything from almond or apple blossom to wet garden or whisky tobacco. I’ve been given some and have bought a few others; they’re relatively inexpensive and light cologne type fragrances. Singly, some are a little thin, or depth-less, but the beauty is you can mix and match and create something quite different by using two or more at a time. Now, I’ve managed to recreate a now-unavailable perfume Amber from L’Occitane by mixing Amber with Thunderstorm; it’s as close as makes no difference when the original is gone from sale. The Library was having a sale a few weeks ago and my daughter and I pooled our resources and bought one each. I bought Iris http://thelibraryoffragrance.com/products/iris but when mine arrived I got a shock because it brought a ghost with it.

A kindly ghost, I must add. The scent is quite hard to describe, but it conjured someone I admired hugely as a child and who I wished I had known better as an adult. Until I sprayed Iris on me, I hadn’t know that somehow, it had been her scent. I imagine it was a mixture of things, but it immediately brought to mind my headmistress from my infants’ school, who I stayed in touch with by letter until I was 23, when she passed away unexpectedly. Looking back, I know she had had a difficult life that it’s hard for a 21st century young woman to understand; not only had she lived through WW2, she would have also lived through the radical changes before that, and the changing world that meant that when she began her teaching career, it was accepted that a female teacher would quit if she married (it was once enforced as were dozens of other things we now look at with horror). So Iris was as if she had just walked through the room; it gave me great comfort and encouragement. It’s a perfume of quiet elegance and self-deprecating strength; not exactly floral either, but with a 1920’s feel to it that’s unlike anything else. 

The next perfume was one of sheer time travel. When I was 14, I went to France on an exchange programme. On one afternoon, we were let loose in the centre of Angers, and I found myself in the market. One of the stalls was selling joss sticks and perfumes and I haggled for several items. I came away with a hair clip, a joss stick holder and a tiny bottle of deep, dark resinous looking perfume that later I was not allowed to wear at home because my mum loathed it. I loved it, and though it was very different to the kind of scent you’d imagine an English school girl wearing, it was something that had drawn me. Of course, once it was gone (lost or finished, I do not recall) I had no name for it and could never find anything like it again. Then, part of my foraging on Amazon brought this to my nets: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00V37SSF8?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00 Opening it was like stepping back forty or so years. I imagine my mother will still hate it.

Not all exploring is nice. I have had one experience recently with the scents I have been trying and it continues to haunt and upset me, because I cannot get the scent out of my mind and it’s a horrible one, truly horrible. http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00UD2NKKW?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o06_s00 I had been trying to find a version of amber I also remember from my teens. But this was not it. It brought to mind a person who isn’t dead but might as well be; not a complete scent but a note created by all sorts of things, and like with Iris, it was as if someone gone from my life had walked through my room. Needless to say, I had to use other scents to exorcise this memory.

I am hoping that this form of exploration will be a way of examining both memories and imagination in a manner that is quite different. It might not suit everyone but it’s been an interesting experience so far.

(For other posts of fragrance please click here  here  here or here

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8 thoughts on “Time Travel and Necromancy: the easy way.

  1. Dear Viv,

    I have been reading your post for over a year now, I always find it interesting, funny, thought provoking and it offers me a little break from the dread of day to day.

    I meant to write this to you last week, when you were “treading water” just to say exactly this: I think you are very brave and I have always admired your honesty, it takes a lot of courage to expose yourself, to say what you feel and what you fear and what you hope for, I always find your posts so real. Albeit I might not always share your feelings or even have an experience of them I am grateful for the insight, for the fact that you are letting me in. Maybe the process of sharing makes us all more aware of how dependent we are on each other for support, comfort, acceptance.

    I know you are very busy but on the spur of the moment after reading you this morning I would like to ask your advice. The past year and last 8 months in particular have been amongst the worst in my life and the sheer pressure of it all was such that I realised I could not go on without some help. I have been having counselling for almost a year now (an invaluable support I would not have been able to do without) amongst other things I have had two weeks off from work because of stress around Christmas time, this coupled up with the usual flu etc has added up to 17.75 days of sickness over the last 12 months and I have now been summoned for a Review of Sickness absence with HR an advisor and a note taker for this Friday, this I am told, is a formal process that could lead to dismissal. I have been working here for 8 years without any problems and in the state I am at present: I am on fluoxetine and Xanax this news feels like a push in the abyss rather than a helping hand.

    I will attend this meeting with a union representative (I was also considering asking my therapist to attend – do you think this might be a good idea?).

    I would be really very grateful for any suggestion or advice you could offer to help me through this ordeal.

    I apologise for writing to you out of the blue like this but as soon as I saw your post I thought you would understand.

    Thank you and all the best,

    Patrizia Lovell

    • Oh goodness. You poor thing; that sounds like a nightmare. I would strongly suggest seeing if your counsellor can come as well as the union rep; she/he may well be a powerful advocate. Can you also talk this over in advance with the union rep and your therapist? It seems utterly draconian to be doing this to you and it can’t be helping your mental state at all. Some years ago, I was in a position of great strain at work, being bullied, and it made my life hellish; just at the point I was ready to give up and quit, the dynamic changed and the bully left, and things improved dramatically. At the time I was on a zero hours contract so if I took sick days, I simply didn’t get paid.
      I’m not sure what else I can suggest but I will think about it. You can also rely on my emotional support; a candle will be lit for you on Friday.

    • Gosh, that would work brilliantly.
      No, I dislike the smell of schools, but oddly, the smell of the old science departments (Bunsen burner gas) really perks me up (I used to love science at school).
      Thanks for the link xx

  2. This is absolutely fascinating – what a wonderful journey to be starting out on! I went into a perfume shop with my girlfriend recently and we tried a few different scents, one of which (Red Door) brought up a mental image of my godmother – and I suddenly remembered that she used to wear it when I was much younger and she used to look after my brother and I. I have since decided to buy her some for Christmas this year – hopefully she still likes it!

  3. Lovely! I’m now browsing through the Library of Fragrance and marvelling at all the amazing scents, like snow, paperback and rain. Think Holy Water might bring back memories from my catholic upbringing! Yvette

    • Holy Water is one on my list to buy. Mind you, probably 3/4 of their stuff is on my list! I’ve enjoyed creating new scents by mixing and matching the ones I have.

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