Thursday, April 29, 2010

No Scent Please, We're British

If I may be permitted to resort to generalisations for a moment: the British attitude to perfume never ceases to leave me dismayed and disappointed.

The other day, during my day job, I was chairing a meeting of the sort which I regularly have with my team. As per usual, at the end, when we'd discussed all the main issues, I looked at the faces before me - all of which, I should add, were female - and I said, "Right, that's the main part of the agenda done. Does anyone have any other business?"

As expected, the expressions I received in response were blank.

"Well, I've definitely got a question I've been dying to ask for the last hour," I continued. "Who's wearing the tuberose fragrance?"

The room exploded in a fit of giggles.

When some semblance of self-control was restored, one of my colleagues - who normally wears Eternity - turned to me and said, "Well, I know I'm wearing Lovely."

"Ahh, Sarah Jessica Parker. That's a very interesting scent," I replied, "but it's not a tuberose."

Glances of horrified surprise were aimed in my direction.

"Actually, as it happens," I carried on, "I've read a book about the creation of Lovely. It was really fascinating."

A muttered comment from the other side of the room reached my ears: "Oh my God, how sad is that!"

"Is no-one else going to confess to wearing a perfume?" I asked, grinning broadly at the scandal I'd apparently caused.

"Well..." another bashful voice ventured, "I'm wearing something I found in my daughter's bedroom... but I don't know what it is..."

More giggles, more red-faced shyness, more English mortification. Someone had sprayed themselves with a very elegant tuberose scent, but for some reason, no-one was willing to admit to it, and everyone thought it was utterly hilarious that I'd even raised the subject.

Don't get me wrong: the whole incident was good-natured and amusing... but I wonder how differently it would have played out if it had taken place, say, in France.

1 comment:

  1. That said- wasn't Kim Kardashian released in 2009. Might that not explain the reticence.......

    ReplyDelete

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