Memories of my grandfather… Wild Tobacco by Iluminum The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent

A sitting room filled with swirling blue smoke.

The great green glass ashtray as heavy as a coal scuttle by the side of the settee.

On the bookshelf a wooden rack of pipes, some long, some short, the curved shanks, the straight ones, the eleborate shapes, the giant bowls, the tiny ones.

Some ever so fancy pipes, most of them quite plain.

All rich with the burnt residues of the ritual: dense, acrid, deathly, black, intriguing as the grave.

But better still, next to them, the golden packets of the dried but still moist, amber-coloured, hay-honey-smelling raw material.

Best pipe tobacco named after a holy man and a giant canine.

Saint Bruno.

Bought in flakes like giant woody sticks of chewing gum, never ever ready rubbed, so that I, the anointed assistant, could enjoy the privilege of crumbling the precious supply into portions about one good smoke in size.

The sweetness in the stuff itself and the moments shared by the glowing fire engaged in chess or politics, flights of fancy or the singular pleasure when an advert for the smoke came on the television flickering from its second hearth in the corner of the room.

His great, sack-shaped, grandmother-knitted woollen jumpers in fawns and browns, moss greens and leafy rusts.

Stay press trousers, pock marked with holes burned by the sprite-like stray strands alight at their moment of transformation from tobacco to ash.

His warm human smell given extra glow by the constant stream of clove flavoured, ruby-resembling, boiled sweets he consumed.

Only one in every five offered to me lest I should follow him down the path to dentures.

Then a call from the kitchen.

There is sweet milky tea on offer, but I know it is a bribe, for homework and rubber topped and ready sharpened pencils await me too.

Reluctantly, dragging feet across the shag pile carpet and wafting faux weary arms through the pewter puffs of smoke, I leave.

Wild Tobacco by Illuminum is a precise moment from The Dandy‘s past, repeated over in fact and remembrance many times.

I can’t promise that anyone else would ever like it as a perfume, to me it is much more personal and precious.

A memory distilled, preserved and bottled.

Yours ever

The Perfumed Dandy.

The Perfumed Dandy

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23 Comments

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23 responses to “Memories of my grandfather… Wild Tobacco by Iluminum The Perfumed Dandy’s Sunday Scent

  1. I never smell a pipe these days… But you conjured weekends in autumn with my grandfather, puffing on a pipe, telling me that thunder was generated by elves playing ninepins in heaven…

    • Dearest V
      My dear gandpa spent many of my formative years (when I rather amateurishly attempted to smoke cigarettes) persuading me to take up a pipe.
      Had I have done so though, I fear I should have been one of a tiny and dwindling number.
      So few people seem to smoke (thank heavens) at all anymore, and of those practically none a pipe.
      Health wise this is , of course, a triumph, but something a few hundred years old has undoubtedly passed away from our culture.
      A whole generation of people will now never now the sweet sourness of tobacco smoke, the patina it left on walls and wooden furniture, the musty, organic smell of the men who took pipes. And that is a richness gone forever.
      At least we have memory.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

      • Lilybelle

        You’re right, Mr. D – you NEVER see anyone smoking a pipe anymore! I remember how fascinated I was by my own grandfather’s small rack of pipes. I found them so beautiful (I also loved his wooden box of shoe polishes and brushes – I loved that scent). And my mother’s second husband smoked a pipe on occasion, too, come to think of it (though I disdained to go near *his* things 😉 ). The scent of pipe smoke is lovely, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I smelled it. It is sadly a lost richness, as you say. I would so much rather smell pipe smoke than a cigar. It was faddish for people to go to cigar smoking places for a while, I don’t know whether it still is. I always think of fat Monopoly game millionaires with diamond pinkie rings when I think of cigars, or cheesy movie villains. Although, Rhett Butler smoked a thin cigar, and he was definitely ok. And now the neo-hippie kids smoke flavored tobaccos (?) in hubbly bubbly cafes. But there are no grandfatherly pipe smokers to found anywhere. There are still plenty of cigarette smokers around, shivering in doorways.

      • Dearest Lily
        There is a (very) minor vogue for pipe smoking here… or at least having an unlit pipe dangling from the lip, amongst a rather amusing set called ‘the chaps’. Some of them go so far as to dress entirely in the get up of the 20s and 30s, mainly in clothes from a rather charming set up called Old Town.
        In fact, you may spot a pipe or two in this rather lovely photoshot taken at one of The Dandy’s favourite watering holes… http://www.old-town.co.uk/piccadilly/index.html
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

  2. batkitty

    Beautiful. Perfume is such a precious thing, that it can bring back warm memories like these.

    • Dearest Batkitty
      It certainly is. I know of no other artistic medium that can transport us so completely to our own past as perfume.
      When I wear Illuminum’s Wild Tobacco it really is as though my grandfather has just left the room…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  3. Mary E.

    I so love things that smell of my grandparents. I didn’t know my grandfather but he did smoke a pipe that my grandmother kept in the house after he passed away. Thanks for reminding us to remember them.

    • Dearest Mary
      All my grandfather’s pipe’s still survive too.
      He had a small collection, maybe ten or twelve.
      An though some of them were rather grand, and a couple outright ostentatious, he only ever really used two rather plain ones as they ‘smoked best’.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  4. Cheryl

    Clary sage, tobacco leaves and Labdanum…yes, please.
    My father started smoking a pipe when he was with the Eighth Air Force
    in England during WWII. Many thanks for the memories.

    • Dearest Cheryl
      I’ve read that a great many Americans and others took up smoking pipes when stationed in England, or in particular those in the air forces… soldiers apparently preferred cigarettes on account of the portability.
      Wonderful how many links not only with our personal but the more general past these perfumes have.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  5. Lilybelle

    That’s a sweet reminiscence, Mr. Dandy. xo

  6. There you are! I loved snuggling into this story/review. You reminded me of my very own Gandpa and it was lovely to go there. I still have is old Brownie camera from 1920, his tank wristwatch from the 40’s and …his old Ronson cigarette lighter.

    • Dearest Lanier
      Though I’m no materialist, the importance of a few objects of passed loved one can’t be over estimated. They somehow bring us closer to them, especially those, like the one’s you mention, that were a real part of their lives.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  7. Lilybelle

    Mr. Dandy, I don’t mean to post all over like a lunatic, but your words to Mr. Lanier, about the preciousness of the objects that were a part of your loved ones’ lives, reminded me of how moved I was by a visit to the USS Yorktown in Charleston, South Carolina. Actually, it was the smaller destroyer (whose name I’ve forgotten) docked nearby that made such a strong impression on me. When I walked the ship and saw what a tin can it really was, realized how much action at sea it saw, how vulnerable the sailors were, and how courageous, how few the comforts; and then I saw displayed small possessions – cigarette packets, lighters, postcards, handwritten letters and photos of family members and sweethearts carried with them to sea, these few personal things, it took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes. I could really get a *feel* for them and who they were. It was those small objects that made me feel their owners’ humanness, their imprint. I can imagine hardly anyone today being up to the challenges that generation faced (WWII), but that’s another topic entirely. 🙂

    • Dearest Lily
      The incredible Holocaust exhibit at our Imperial War Museum here in London has a similar, and overpowering display of the tiny items left behind by those who perished in the atrocity.
      Terribly, they are mainly those things stolen from those about to die by the camp guards and yet they speak of a world outside the camps, before the war.
      Of the humanity of those who were murdered and the inhumanity of those who murdered them.
      Yes, objects can be so terribly eloquent sometimes.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  8. Lovely post. Is that a picture of the actual jumper your grandfather used to wear? It does seem like a very ‘grandfatherly’ jumper..It reminds me of some of the sweaters my grandfather used to wear.

    • Dearest Lavanya
      It’s not the actual jumper as I couldn’t seem to get a decent photograph of the item (which I rather wonderfully have in my possession). But it looks almost identical, except for being a little to neat and tidy and in shape.
      The real one is delightfully careworn by now…
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

  9. Stunning.

    I know EXACTLY the smells, and the acrid love which you are describing. You nail that environment and atmosphere most perfectly.

    For me, I get the same emotion from smelling L’Artisan’s Tea For Two. It
    IS the moment I would open one of his tobacco tins; precisely, another moment captured in time. I would never wear it (Duncan does, actually), but want to always keep some, as in vintage (yes, vintage), it is quite breathtakingly tobacco-ish.

    • Dearest Ginza
      Your laying down of some Tea for Two is characteristically far-sighted. I have a sense that tobacco may disappear as a note from perfumery almost entirely over the years ahead. As the habit of smoking continues to die in the West and the associations with cigarettes become more and more down at heal – already they are transformed from Holly’s huge holder in Breakfast at Tiffany’s to hustled office workers huddling around a fire exit in the rain – I can’t imagine it’s vision that perfumers or fashion houses will want the bask in.
      Either that or the smell will become entirely disassociated from the thing itself, or an item of a nostalgia for the brief months that people spend puffing away in their teens before mending their ways.
      A olfactory note as anthropological foot note.
      Yours ever
      The Perfumed Dandy

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