Perhaps Sir John was always more Green Carnation than White Rose.
A peculiarly British contradiction: feted peer of the realm, first among actors, arrested and prosecuted for ‘sexual offences’. Further enobled after his conviction.
His surface charm, that most say ran deep, and mellifluous tone that spoke of an equally honeyed, and giving, heart, never deserted him.
I wonder if, like his great aunt, the every bit as legendary Ellen Terry he might have been tempted by the wares of Floris of Jermyn Street.
I’m sure he knew of the Turkish baths that once stood nearby, and proved inspiration for Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet.
The Floris shop still has the same wooden counters created for the Great Exhibition in 1851, from behind which Ellen, and John and now you are served.
Perhaps he might have chosen White Rose, a quintessentially theatrical scent.
Not large or grating you understand.
But subtle and insinuating like a fine actor’s performance.
It starts as a juvenile violet, sweet, innocent, slightly confectionery. Grows into a leading lady heart, more power and depth, jasmine providing elocution and projection.
The finish is pure dressing room: fading flowers, endless powder and slap, the spice of costumes worn tens of dozens of times.
Actor and theatre, person, place, perfume all one.
Gielgud, the performer personified is one of only eleven people, five actors, to have the rare distinction of an EGOT.
This inelegant acronym signifies their capturing of Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony, and dominance of all performing arts.
Interestingly, Sir John received more Grammy nominations than for any of the purely acting awards… that voice…
Farewell then from the world of magic and theatre and roses.
Happy St Valentine’s Day.
The Perfumed Dandy.