Halloween is now such a distant memory and it’s all about Christmas now. For some of us. We can always put fingers in ears. Before we march off into a parade of tinsel and mince pies, I thought I’d do a little summary report of Sniff and Scream night, an evening of fragrance and the ghost story hosted in a barn in Spitalfields.
That’s me and speaker James Craven at the front, looking surprisingyl sedate given the subject matter.
The evening was there to surface some of the more esoteric applications of fragrance deployed by writers of fiction, in their various attempts to make the reader feel unsettled.
Most of our stories came from modernist writers of the mid 20th century, and I think my favourite tale of the night was ‘The Poor Girl’ by Elizabeth Taylor. It’s a bit Turn of the Screw, and concerns meek governess called Miss Chasty who is tutoring a rather spoiled, tormenting and flirtatious boy on the cusp of adolescence, with a suggestion that he might have rather a lot knowledge about ‘human relations’ and is out to toy with her. To the governess’ dismay, she starts smelling of very expensive, luxurious perfume (we thought Guerlain’s Mitsouko…) and there is a sense that she is becoming another women, or that perfume is forcing her to put on a new skin. is this a ghost with one last point to prove, or our governess’ own delusions? I’ll let you read the story to find out…it appears in Taylor’s complete stories which are all wonderful anyway. Worth getting the lot.
I won’t say much more, as Fragrantica wrote-up the evening and have included all the fragrances and the stories with which they were paired. There’s also a short interview with me about why scents and ghost stories. Suzy from Fragrantica who is well worth following on twitter as @beyondpale also took these photos through the gloam and gloom….. Suzy unwittingly played quite a big role in my getting the events started in 2010 as she seriously excited me years earlier with her own fragrance range. Anyway, that’s another story. Here’s some taxidermy to conclude matters: