As an adult, never arrive at a children’s tea party until it’s over.
She had said, ‘Come around about seven. They’ll have worn themselves out and the ‘grown ups’ can have fun.’.
Why oh why didn’t I listen?
Why did I think it would be generous, amusing even, to arrive when the ankle biters were still going tooth and claw at the table groaning with juvenile junk food?
So, my evening starts with too cheap, too strong and too sweet orange soda. Made fizzy at home with alarming novetly machine that keeps threatening to explode.
Then it’s a game of ‘hunt the jewel’.
Somewhere in a giant bowl of half set mandarin jelly there’s a prize.
It must be removed with the mouth: no hands, no spoon – just head in said jelly.
‘Please, please’ they yell, a youthful chorus ‘join in, JOIN IN!!!’. And so, ever the sport, my petrified visage plunges into a whirling, swirling tepid pool of luminous gunk.
I emerge, eventually, face, neck, collar covered in the most revolting fake fruit sweet slime that money can buy and mummy can make.
A roar from the crowd – clenched between my suddenly yellowed teeth an amber pendant, it’s silver chain resting wet on my chin.
I pass it dutifully to the birthday girl and another cheer goes up.
The final festive climax reached, the kids scatter and ready for the off as I skulk upstairs to reclaim my face and give any help possible to my poor hair.
Returning to the scene of my triumphant undoing, the children have departed. Mother is about to take celebratory daughter upstairs for a bath and bed. I am to watch the door.
Gradually the later, older guests arrive wrapped in their all surrounding adult smells.
One wears patchouli as she has done since we were young, another rose to remember her mother by, a third antique vanilla with a touch of fragranced powder.
Our host returns, daughter settled fast asleep.
She has wrested the amber amulet from her child and dabbed a little of its namesake’s scent, her signature, on the nape of her own neck.
As the evening floats onwards to the blue hour, the room glows with warm conversation, time-earnt friendships and the notes of perfumes too personal and familiar to need introduction.
Even the congealed jelly on my collar has dried to an almost semi-precious crystal, though now and again emits a saccharine citrus to remind me of my mistake.
If only I’d have arrived late.
Midnight Poison by Dior is a fragrance of enormous contrasts.
Sadly, in this reformulation at least, these are far from complimentary.
The opening is quite simply catastrophic.
A syrupy, synthetic and supremely nauseating fruit cocktail: it is an assault on the senses.
And, like lurid pineapple chunks skewered next fluorescent plastic cheese on cocktail sticks this hors d’ouevres, it can’t fail to out stay its welcome.
What happens very gradually after is, however, almost remarkable: this raucous, rancorous, childish affair yields to an accomplished, enigmatic and glancingly enticing composition whose apparent complexity belies a breathtakingly simple palette.
Rose, amber, patchouli, vanilla.
It is, in many ways, a work of dark mysteries. Of day and night, with midnight being by far the best hour.
If only that opening just wasn’t.
There is no question that this can be worn by a man, indeed I know from conversation and correspondence this is worn by many men.
But The Dandy’s not for wearing.
That opening is too much to be gotten over, it leaves one feeling… besmirched.
The Perfumed Dandy.