Arthur was widowed young.
So he learnt, unlike most men of his generation.
Unlike most men.
And account of the fact that he liked cakes.
He also, a rare disposition in widowers so he found, liked people.
Young, old, good and bad humoured, pleasant looking and plain and of every colour and creed.
And in their multitudes.
Arthur like to surround himself with other souls.
He was talked of in hallowed terms ‘pillar of the community’, ‘salt of the earth’.
But his current best friend, a spirited boy of six, some seventy two year his junior, would correct this second epithet.
“Arthur’s not the salt of the earth. He’s it’s sugar.”
On account, the precocious infant would explain to anyone who asked of their being nothing bitter, rancorous or un-likeable about his pal.
The week before Christmas finds Arthur in a halo of strong plain and self-raising flour beaming like a gastronomic angel amongst celestial clouds of icing sugar.
He will make…
Decorated gingerbread men by the dozen.
Scores of mince pies scented with coriander, a memory of childhood and the Raj.
Multiple dense fruit cakes, fed with Cointreau and full of candied orange peel.
Apple and cinnamon crumbles so that some as old but not as able as him can have hot puddings.
Sixty egg custard tarts with too much vanilla essence, because he likes them that way.
And biscuit upon iced biscuit, by the bagful, to decorate any tree that will have them.
Arthur’s industry though is strictly a morning thing for, following a light lunch and good soak, he emerges from home immaculate in bright tweeds topped with silver Brylcreemed and combed through hair.
On brown brogue shod feet or a rickety burgundy bicycle with capacious basket he begins the real work and joy of his day:
A lifetime working logistics has prepared him for the intensity of this sincere high speed socialising.
He visits, calls with, meets, drops in on and takes out daily more people than many other commune with in a month.
Yet each one he succeeds in making feel special.
He has a talent for remembering.
Knows when a granddaughter has been unwell, a sister divorced, a nephew has lost work or an ageing mother moved into a nursing home and for asking after them with genuine care and an absence of the arrogant desire to advise.
He recalls birthdays and anniversaries, school sports day triumphs, examinations passed, homes moved into and new jobs found.
And of course he does make the best sweets, puddings, biscuits, cookies, crumbles and cakes.
So when, sartorially elegant and scented of a polite vetiver he’s worn since the sixties, he calls at this time of the year he is more the especially welcome.
For “Arthur is the sugar of the earth.”
Must de Cartier Pour Homme is a generous, friendly, frightfully likeable fragrance.
Its mixture of sweet, vibrant and absolutely un-sickly spices is a seasonal tonic to be truly savoured.
If contemporary gourmands are industrial, sucrose-driven production units of confectionery perfume, this is the aroma of fine home baking with organic Demerara and good doses of citrus fruits to cut through anything that might possible cloy.
It is the smell of an expertly made pre-Christmas Monday.
Oranges and tangy, rather than sharp, lemons combine with a carnation that is more white pepper than petal and a good pinch of coriander at the top.
The spiciness then mellows and sweetens, though, despite a strong cinnamon note and because of the zing of a prominent ginger, the composition retains it fizz.
The dry down is gentle, though quirky, the olfactory equivalent of a polka dot bow tie on a smartly dressed man. A pleasant sandalwood, vanilla and tonka bean accord is given some verve by a refreshing vetiver that, coupled with the residual aromatics, lift the whole experience.
As a masterclass in subtly idiosyncratic composition and irrepressibly optimistic perfume making this is hard to beat.
It’s also a sure fire festive fillip for those in need of a touch of seasonal spirit.
Oh, as if it needed saying, this is absolutely appropriate for women and men alike. In fact, the ‘Pour Homme’ here feels like an afterthought.
‘Le Must de Cartier II’ would have sufficed.
The Perfumed Dandy.