The trea­sured scents of child­hood

He had trav­elled to Lon­don to cre­ate a scent for a cus­tomer who was mad about the idea of English smells

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

IF you have more money than sense (or scents, as we shall see), you can have a be­spoke fra­grance made by Christo­pher Bro­sius, a Brook­lyn, New York per­fumer who runs a com­pany with the un­am­bigu­ous name of CB I Hate Per­fume. I watched a doc­u­men­tary about him on a re­cent flight and he had trav­elled to Lon­don to cre­ate a scent for a cus­tomer who was mad about the idea of English smells — damp tweed and to­bacco, old leather-bound books, bulldogs and roast beef din­ners, rain and fog, and even the muggy in­te­ri­ors of red tele­phone boxes.

Af­ter scratch­ing and sniff­ing his way around Lon­don li­braries, pubs and wet pave­ments, Bro­sius came up with a mix of ‘‘mildewed frock­coats and han­som cabs, short­bread and cob­ble­stones’’, and his An­glophile client was ter­rif­i­cally im­pressed.

It makes me think of what I would like to have in cus­tomised bot­tles of per­fume. I’d love one la­belled Bali, for starters, redo­lent with the is­land’s smells of frangi­pani and tuberose and siz­zling chilli-rich foodql and even those In­done­sian clove cigarettes that have an aroma so un­like any other kind of fag, as if smok­ers are puff­ing on shred­ded spice.

But my sig­na­ture flask would have to be filled with the trea­sured smells of child­hood — there’d be the aroma of the sun-warmed sheets that Mother and I brought in from the clothes­line on sum­mer af­ter­noons. There would be the co­conut oil of days at the beach and the salty tang of sea air and the de­li­cious smell of corned beef sand­wiches with home-made pick­les at pic­nics on new-mown grass. There’d have to be the roses, gar­de­nias and daphne of Grandma Grace’s garden and the saw­dust and cherry pipe to­bacco of Un­cle Mick’s work­shop with a jot of damp dog for good mea­sure.

A few years ago I met Lyn Har­ris of the Miller Har­ris fra­grance com­pany. She is re­garded as one of Bri­tain’s best ‘‘noses’’ and has a rep­u­ta­tion for mix­ing un­usual fra­grances, such as the sharp­ness of the salt marshes of Nor­mandy with the wood­i­ness of ‘‘walks through Lon­don’s Re­gent’s Park’’.

Har­ris blends tea, too, with in­gre­di­ents such as berg­amot, rose ab­so­lute and tan­ger­ine vert. Sip­ping elevenses with her was a rev­e­la­tion. The teas are so heady it’s hard to know whether to drink from the cup or dab a bit be­hind the ears. My nose twitched, I breathed deeply and felt slightly giddy. So let’s add Grandma Grace’s fa­mously strong black af­ter­noon brew to my spe­cial child­hood bot­tle, with top notes of Iced VoVo and but­tered cur­rant buns.

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