This week’s theme was, of course, smells which I thought was delightfully summed up in the first line of one our submissions, A smelly smell that smells smelly! Says it all really, doesn’t it? We have had some fascinating stuff, loads of nostalgia, of course, but also some inventive ways of both lauding and lamenting various odours.
Who could not love the calendar of smells that marked each month by its burgeoning scent? Or the pleasure of the member who has sadly lost the gift of being able to smell anything, but treasures the memory of a grandson delighting in her own ‘granny’ aroma? Or the recognition that past smells can act as a talisman against present pain? And the swimmer happily lured from the sea by the smell of Cardamom coffee, once such an exotic experience for a more sensually deprived generation.
This generational gap in olfactory experiences was reflected in several of the pieces, and probably summed up best by the article on Smelly Museums, which took us on an inspiring trip round the York Viking Museum, which actually bottles smells, (both ravishing and revolting) from leather to candle wax and many more. Sounds like a must sniff experience to me!
Boyhood memories of seeing a cow milked by hand also vividly conjured up that far away virtually traffic-less world of the 1940’s. I could almost hear the clip of the hooves as the horse pulled the cart along those deserted roads. Several of you expanded the theme from smell to memories revived by touch or sound, and an especially touching one took us to a pregnancy scan and the overwhelming memory of the sound of that first heart beat.
Another piece took us through several ‘smelly’ experiences before climaxing with a gut wrenching lost dog story – oh, the relief when Houdini returned! And yet another conjured everything from Guy Fawkes Night bonfires and rockets to grandparent houses lit by gas mantles – and if you are too young to know what they are, do look them up. I enjoyed the depiction of the brain as an infinite library where smells could whisk you to the next book. Johnson’s Baby Powder figured in several memories including one which catalogued an entire life in smells, including reminding me of the smell of Vick Rub!.
A rather blood thirsty, but entertaining, epic seemed to be suggesting that all soldiers develop a blood lust. Well, it was fiction. As was the equally engaging further escapades of Anthony Bond, another of this writer’s heroes who seems destined for a watery grave. There was a fun piece set rather flexibly in past times as it leapt from Arthurian legend to Roman occupation and even gave a nod to the Tudors along the way – an appropriation of puns, perhaps? And there was a nod to the animal loving grandmother who helped to establish the PDSA.
Before I reach our continuing stories, I have two more pieces to mention. One was a beautiful poem by Kate, written especially for our American friends, and illustrating our nation’s horror and sympathy for what took place so recently in their country, and emphasising our empathy with them and our hope for them. The other, a quite extraordinarily insightful poem, pictured both the, often linked, heroism and tragedy of war. All the more haunting in that it poses neither questions nor answers, it leaves us reflecting on a world still full of children orphaned by conflict.
Now on to Alice – who is really not herself, I fear. Oh dear. Where next, I wonder for this poor girl. And still no knickers in sight. And Ryan is back in action, finally in deadly conquering combat with the Supreme Moose and raring for more action. Go, man, go.
What can I say but thank you once more? You have lit up my lockdown week with your creativity.
Debbie has suggested next week’s theme, and it is A Desert Island.
Keyboards at the ready and – go! Sally