Travels and travails all done with, The Dandy has returned in time for an abbreviated Christmas Season.
One thing this time the yuletide inevitably brings with it are the visits to family members unseen or heard of for much of the rest of the year.
It is just such a figure – only part imaginary – that Illuminum’s Tribal Black Tea brings to mind.
This is an eccentric uncle of a scent.
A paisley smoking jacket and silk slippers sort of gent. Waxed moustache and silver slicked back hair.
He sits in a study lined with shelves of obscure, no doubt out of date books of ethnography and anthropology.
A map here and there of Africa, a tribal mask, a spear or other ‘souvenir’ of his former days ‘in the field’.
He knows he is a relic, an antique, a species on the brink of extinction and he revels in his own exotic curiosity.
The best, in fact the only time to call is tea.
He has a silver samovar: since there are no servants any more it waits on him instead, providing spicy, juicy liquid as required to retain an adequate degree of lubrication.
As the brew is never fresh, he forever adulterates the restorative beverage with a quartered lemon here, a pod or two of cardamom there and the odd pinch of nutmeg that has the smack of snuff.
There is fruitcake, though no one knows from where it comes, and fresh cut flowers too: perhaps, after all, there is a ‘woman that does’ that pops in now and then.
For half, maybe a whole hour, he is replete with anecdotes, some old, some borrowed, a few blue.
Then the eyes glaze, he is apt to forget the beginning of the story he has started and, just maybe, your name.
As the time for his nap comes he fades and folds elegantly into an old chesterfield armchair.
The visit over, you let yourself out with the feeling that you’re glad you came but not exactly sure why.
He is a sweet, gentle enigma, a scented riddle of a man.
An eccentric. And how the British love such things.
The Perfumed Dandy.