Sunday, 31 August 2014
August Competition - old pongs!
Debbie Taylor has given us a lovely question to help to win one of five copies of her latest novel, Herring Gull, kindly donated by publisher OneWorld.
Just write you answer below in Comments. Closing date is September 14th, to allow for holidays.
We regret our competitions are open to UK readers only.
"What aroma from the past are you grateful no longer to smell? And what past aroma would you like experience again as a part of everyday life?"
Please also email your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org, so that it is easier to get in touch with you if you have won a copy.
Posted by Mary Hoffman at 00:01
Labels: August competition, Debbie Taylor, Herring Girl
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My childhood day dreams were of living in the past, simpler times (yeh I know now but thought it was easier when I was a kid) I was quite happy until I found out folk didn't bathe, now that would be my unwanted smell, dirty bodies, stale sweat, or worse uuuggggghh.
But the one I would like would smell would be the monastery herberium, I love old fashioned crime and Ellis Peters seemed to be very good to me then, I know now a lot of it is a modern way of thinking on an old fashioned setting, but I still enjoy them :-) but the shed in the grounds full of drying herbs, and stored fruit, would be my idea of heaven!
Starting with the positive, I would LOVE to nuzzle my face into my father's tweed jacket and smell that lived-in tweedy Daddy smell again.
What I don't want to smell is whatever gas was used to make nine year old me unconscious ready for an operation to remove my appendix. It was sickly sweet, mixed with the smell of the black rubber cone that was pressed to my face. The thought of that smell still scares me.
One might get accustomed to everyday smells of unwashed bodies but I wouldn't want to smell the blood and other stenches from a battlefield.
I would really like to smell the roses and lilies of some of the gardens depicted so delightfully in illuminated manuscripts.
A memory triggered by reading an article on tanning leather in the past brought my childhood winging back to me - specifically the experience of a 'sleepover' with a particular playmate (though the word had not yet been invented for the experience of an overnight stay - we just got on and did it).
Now there's no delicate way of saying this - but in those days and in that place (the early 1950's, in a working class part of a mostly working class town in an industrialised part of South Wales), many neighbours and ourselves still had the 'po' under the bed. Aged five, I took it for granted. Uncommented upon in polite society, it was, nevertheless, a silent - but (when the 'lav' was downstairs and outside) a constant and appreciated night-time presence. It was there, it was used, it was emptied daily by Mam. Except that my friend's Mam was not quite so particular about the emptying part - only carrying out the task when the receptacle was full. Nobody who has experienced sleeping in a tiny back room - in summer - with the windows closed and a pot of pee festering under the bed will ever have forgotten the experience. I certainly have not - but am happy to have never had to endure it again since then!
As for the aroma I would most like to experience as part of everyday life - again, my memory flies back; this time to the all encompassing smell of my Welsh Mam's particular soup - which she attempted to 'gentrify' by always calling it casserole. I can simmer the same carrots, celery, and onions together with the same water from the tap - but I have never been able to find her extra ingredients, to recreate that sense of being enveloped in her presence that the aroma instantly provided as I walked through the door. It smelled of home, it smelled of Mam, it smelled of love. I would do anything to inhale that combination once more. (and then, there was the milk-simmered tripe and onions…)
For an aroma from the past that I'm glad is gone - the choking, suffocating, smell of smog typical of autumn days in London in the fifties.
And one that I would like to smell more often? The dried flowers that would have been commonplace in a typical home of Shakespeare's day. Lavendar is the most obvious but I'd like to know what else was used to sweeten laundry and freshen a home.
Bad smell- the hops from the breweries around Reading in the 1960s. Good smell - the roses that used to grow in the central reservation of the 'motorways' in Bulgaria in Iron Curtain days. Not sure whether they were supposed to be there, or were effectively weeds...
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