One of the joys of going perfume shopping is that you never know quite what you're going to get from an encounter with a Sales Assistant. The other day I was at a nearby branch of John Lewis and I went up to the Yves Saint Laurent counter, hoping to try the new Opium Vapeurs De Parfum.
As the SA handed me a blotter on which she'd just sprayed the scent, I asked her to remind me what the idea was behind this new release.
"Oh, it's a gentle, delicate reinterpretation of the original Opium," she gushed. "The concept was to take the familiar ingredients and make them lighter, fresher."
I nodded politely.
"It's got tons of orange blossom in it," she continued.
'Not likely,' I thought to myself.
"And a really strong dose of jasmine."
'Even less likely.'
"And the base is pure Indian sandalwood."
"It was released last year to tie in with the 20th anniversary of Opium."
That was the point at which I had to stop biting my tongue. "Sorry, what was that?"
"It was released last year to mark the 20th anniversary of the original Opium."
I looked over my shoulder, just to make sure I hadn't been zapped through a time warp. All around me was multi-coloured junk bearing the London 2012 logo. No time warp, then. "Err... Opium is from the seventies."
There was a moment's silence. Somehow, her smile managed to grow both wider and chillier. There was a look in her eyes that seemed to say, 'Look sunshine, don't give me any trouble. Am I wearing the YSL badge, or are you?' She cleared her throat. "Oh no, sir, Vapeurs De Parfum was released last year for the twentieth anniversary of Opium. Which means Opium cannot be from the seventies."
Our gazes locked across the Touche Éclat tester stand. I considered whipping out my phone and showing her that every single semi-respectable perfume site in the world would confirm that she was utterly wrong.
"I'm not going to argue with you," I whispered, "but Opium is definitely from the seventies. In fact, it was widely considered to be one of the finest scents of the seventies." I paused. "Before people started messing around with it." And then I forced myself to look away, turn around and head for the nearest exit.