She woke slumped upon the floor in her spare room, surrounded by leaves and lengths of paper, some floral scented some still smelling of wood pulp and printer ink.
It was Saturday and she at once sensed that the weather was much colder.
Outside, the early Summer had evaporated and though the sunshine persisted, the warmth that she had in such a short time become accustomed to had deserted her.
She could, of course, as was her custom, seek solace from loneliness in work.
Make the journey back to her wood panelled rooms overlooking the magnolia grandiflora at the gates to Gray’s Inn and find company in legal cases filled with people and their problematic lives.
Practicing family law part time and at weekends, she found she need never truly be alone.
Walking past the bowler hatted beadle at the entrance to the Inn a doubt like a tick twisted at the corner of her right eye: was this the right thing to do? To run away from her woes at home and seek shelter in lives on paper more troubled than her own?
She pushed against the heavy door to chambers, it gave its usual resistance and then gave way begrudgingly, as if it admitted her against its better judgment.
She was met with an overpowering almost sickly smell of lilies.
The vast flower arrangement in reception had turned slightly stale after week of greeting unhappy clients cheerily.
The smell, though not entirely unpleasant, at this moment literally repulsed her, pushed her from the room with a force that felt physical.
She closed the door quickly, putting herself on the outside and lent breathing deeply, as though from a struggle, against the oak aperture to prevent it so she thought from opening of its own accord or the aroma escaping.
She looked around, there was no one.
Regaining a degree of composure, she drifted across the courtyard to the gardens they all knew as ‘The Walks’.
She fully expected the great wrought iron gates to be closed against her as they always were, excepting weekday lunchtimes when they were opened to allow solicitors and their sandwiches to litter the vast lawns.
Yet when she touched the turned metal to get a feel for its cold resistance, she found that they were, in fact, unlocked and for a reason she could not place felt a surge of exhilaration, liberation even run through her.
Without hesitation she squeezed open a small gap and snuck herself through.
To avoid discovery she veered away from the avenue of plane trees and limes that made up the ceremonial centrepiece of the park.
As she did she noted the soft arboreal smell that the day, now warming, was bringing forth.
At first she thought the buzz was in her head.
She had suffered migraines lately and fretted for a moment that this might be their latest manifestation.
Soon she realised that the sound was real and came from without herself.
It was coming from the side of Verulam Buildings, the vast block of Georgian domestic architecture that closed off this little world from the busy streets beyond.
She walked towards the noise, not really knowing why, a lawyer’s inquisitiveness, perhaps.
She was startled, when a tall figure dressed entirely in white with what appeared to be a black hood on stepped out from the shade.
Her earlier excitement morphed quickly into mild panic. She turned and was about to run.
“Watch out!” it was a man’s voice, well spoken, sonorous, resonant.
“They’re pretty mad and might sting. I’ve been interfering with them you see.”
He laughed, and backing off hastily she joined him in his chuckle: he was a bee keeper.
Through his guffaws he held aloft a honeycomb with gleeful gusto as if to prove the point.
This boy like pride and the intoxicating sweet animal smell of the nectar had her in paroxysms.
So much so that she barely noticed him replace the slide into the hive and walk over to her.
Close up, with the netting removed to reveal a tanned, asymmetrical but not unattractive face, he smelt not only of the bees and their secretions but of his own sweat.
To go with the sweetness there was a salty, not entirely clean scent about him.
It was, she thought, an honest smell, bought with physical labour and passion.
“Are you the volunteer?” he asked with a smile.
She knew much depended on her answer, and the mistakes that she had made before came instantly to mind.
“Yes. Yes, I am…. I’m the volunteer.”
“What brings you to bees?”
She thought briefly but deeply and then settled with a profound certainty on her answer.
“I admire their industriousness.”
Estee Lauder’s Sensuous is a fragrance of great but delayed gratification.
At first this aroma can seem like a sugary floral synthetic aimed cynically at a sweet toothed teen market.
There is much more and of worth to be found here.
At its core this is a decidedly, deliciously unwholesome honey more sexual than simply sensuous in its animal intensity.
Things, though, do not start off so well.
The opening is a rather obvious concoction of magnolia, jasmine and mainly lily into a sad generic floral accord, which with the first clean notes of natural sugar can be cloying.
This effect, however, passes quickly with the introduction of ylang ylang and an off-beat sandalwood and amber that sees the composition gain both complexity and depth.
There is an exotic almost hothouse feel to this element of the fragrance, reminiscent of botanical gardens and indoor palms.
This too develops as the rich honeycomb core, tempered not only with the salt of the amber but also a little black pepper, comes very much to the fore.
It is an intense and prolonged note, persisting well into drydown that succeeds magnificently in conveying a sense of bees the beast as well as their sweet secretions.
Sensuous is ultimately a heady, sweaty, swept of one’s feet sort of a perfume, that admirably escapes the realms of cheap romantic fiction by means of its visceral, animal honesty.
Men and women both make wonderful apiarists.
Now, far be it for The Dandy to direct your reading, dear friends, but today’s reflections may make a little more sense in the context of this week’s reviews of Tresor by Lancome and Stella by Stella McCartney… just a thought.
The Perfumed Dandy.