Living in the countryside one’s sense of smell is keener than the city dweller, with his nasal passages clogged by pollution from factories, cars etc…. When I arrive in London I am conscious of lots of new smells which excite my senses. Coffee and cheese wafting down the Old Crompton Road from Italian delicatessens. Garlic and other herbs crushed by the greengrocers and left ouside their highly coloured shop fronts in Soho. Tar bubbling up through the thin layer of dirt on the busy roadway … all excite the nostrils.
But as a ‘gay’ member of society I am more excited by the exotic perfumes from the models, debutantes, shop manageresses and other sophisticated women I pass in the bustling streets. I long to stop them and ask the name of that ‘heady’ perfume, that subtle fragrance or that delicate woodland grassy odour …
I dare not go into the big department stores and try their sample bottles because of the strange stares from the assistants. Anyway I find that after using both wrists and the backs of both hands, my poor nose is bewitched and my memory cannot sort out one perfume from another, they have mingled…
I did once pluck up enough courage to do just this in our local branch, and went back to my own place of work reeking like a Turkish brothel on a hot Saturday night.
Yet I still love perfumes. All through my life I have used them even though my father called me a ‘nancy boy’ and ‘Pouffe’ etc. Luckily most people I worked and spent my leisure time with appreciated that ‘I smelt nice’.
It wasn’t until a French friend came to stay that I discovered the names of some of the more expensive colognes for men (or women).
My first real love was ‘Habit Rouge’ or ‘Hunting Pink’ by Guerlain. This drove me into a frenzy and I longed to use it in buckets full but so crafty was the fragrance, so full of promise that a little was enough and proved itself over and over again. It travelled with me from Hong Kong to Thailand, Singapore and Bombay. It lasted through Mombassa, Durban and Dakar and when we finally docked in Marseilles the bottle was empty and I longed to reach Paris and buy more of this wonderful cologne.
But here I discovered another, more exciting cologne. It was Nina Ricci’s ‘Signoricci’. When I wore this around the gay clubs I was never left ‘on the shelf’. I received many compliments.
Now after travelling in America and sampling their after-shaves and colognes, I find them all rather boring. They all bear lusty butch names and nearly all smell like Old Spice (Cat’s Piss in my opinion) or Brut. Now is the time for all good ‘gays’ to branch out and be more daring in their choices because there are so many new ‘smells’ about … longing to be tried.
The newest little treasure is M&W’de Messire, one I discovered this morning in our local branch of Roses. I went to buy Arramis which has proved a real bomb at parties. But my nose was attracted by this new thrilling scent. I enquired immediately what was this new fragrance I didn’t recognise. The young lady rushed at me waving the sample bottle, and in seconds I was in a fragrant cloud. Drugged by the overpowering excitement I reached into my pocket for that last fiver of the week and bought a modest sized bottle for £2.25.
Within half an hour of returning I had two builders turn and stare. An electrician pause in his work and sniff, and all had that mysterious puzzled look of the male in search of his mate … yippee …
Just how important is perfume. One hundred percent. If it took my last penny I’d buy colognes. They are an investment. The most ugly young man with pimples and buck teeth becomes desirable when using a subtle cologne.
When you work with the general public one begins to realise just how many use perfume wrongly, to cover up other smells. BO cannot be covered or disguised. Soap and water is the only answer. Strangely enough in these modern times it’s the men who smell better than the women. Perhaps they have more cash to spare. Once the tweed-jacketed, pipesmoking farmer could be counted on to bring that piggy manure odour into the store with him. Now he smells of Aqua Manda. The delivery boy uses Aqua di Selva, a pine-woods nostalgic scent. The young man in the boy’s boutique is even more bold in his choice – he uses Chamade by Guerlain. Too strong for many youths but this boy invites rape at every glance.
I can only thank god for my nose … I enjoy life so much more by sniffing my way around London and indeed around the world. I can hardly wait to set off again, nose held high to discover some other exotic perfume.
Some recommended colognes for the more adventurous