Black Widow Chronicles

Heaven scent

Vintage fashion girl with perfume.

Maybe the definition of ‘grown up’ is when we accept our mortality as fact rather than some vague something which happens to other people.

It is at this stage in our lives, perhaps, we come to understand more clearly why older people may worry about the legacy they will leave behind. Why, in the thrust of some real life crime drama, protagonists may even kill to protect that legacy.

I’m not sure I would go as far as a killing spree to protect my reputation but, certainly, I wouldn’t want stuff out there about me that wasn’t true or grossly unfair as I gasp my final breath. It begs the question, then, what would I want said of me as that definitive something to try and sum up a life, hopefully, well lived?

Apropos of that and maybe a year ago now, my daughter said she would remember I always smelled nice. Okay, okay, I know that probably sounds remarkably feeble to most of you and, perhaps, “Mum did at least one charitable act a day,” is a better contender in terms of gravitas for Epitaph worthiness. Being a perfumnista, however, (inadequately described as a person with a deep interest in fragrance and it’s origins), I can kinda live (die?) with that statement about me. Especially since scent and smells can transport us back to a time and place faster than any other of our senses.

I have an abiding memory of my aunt one tarmac melting hot day in a white 1950s-type dress, printed all over with over-sized, boozy pink roses. The dress is cinched in at the waist with a wide black belt with large square buckle. It is this cinching which helps the skirt of the dress to splay gently outwards – a gentle splaying mightily assisted by the several stiff white petticoats pressed into employment underneath the main attraction. Her accessories included white plastic clip-on earrings, white cotton gloves and gossamer-thin stockinged legs slipped into 3-inch high black leather patent sling-backs.

There is a perfume by Caron which transports me back to that Summer’s day. The day my aunt glided into the house in a fragrant cloud to hold fragrant court with my father. I wear it when I want to feel vintagely chic in my own patent leather sling-backs on the number 12 bus.

Uncertain memory whispers that it may have been around this time in my girlhood when I started crushing rose petals to seep in olive oil (alright, Crisp ‘N’ Dry vegetable oil) to make ‘perfume’. In a thrift-priority house, putting food on the table and clothes on our backs always trumped luxuries.

If, then, a whiff inside a perfume urn will in the future be able to conjure up for my children a happy childhood filled with the lovely memories I continue to try and provide for them, “Mum always smelled nice,” seems a plenty good enough Epitaph to me.

The Black Widow