Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Colours and smells from my hinterland

Washing-up liquid has to be green. Not blue nor – worst of all – orange. I confess I’m clay in the hands of the advertisers: green is whispering pine trees and not industrial chemicals. But there’s another, virtually primordial, influence. At age six, when these things mattered, green became my favourite colour. A lightly taken decision I have never escaped.

Twenty years ago we bought cocoanut-scented soap in Haut. Lompnes, a French mountain town, a cité sanitaire peopled entirely by invalids. The delicate and subtle scent proved an aid to washing my face which I’m otherwise not disposed to do. The subtlety has never been duplicated. Today I used cocoanut soap from The Body Shop. Not the same.

Maclean toothpaste once had a tingly taste hinting at the stuff women use to remove nail varnish. Probably toxic. My preferred poison. Then Maclean entered the Bland Corral and teeth-cleaning became a burden. Sensodyne is the dentist’s recommendation. Blah!

Swarfega is flurorescent green, seductively slimy, has the sharp manly smell of a refinery’s backside and cleans engine oil from your hands. Unaffected by fashion but I don’t get my hands oily these days.

Pungent and earthy Vim was a grey powder which came in a cardboard tube. Add water and you could grind lacquered stains off aluminium pans. Perfect for my Gran who loved elbow-grease jobs. Mrs BB thinks Vim gave way to Ajax. This evokes a couplet from She’s Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage modified by Elder Daughter:

It’s sad when you think of her wasted life,
For youth doesn’t mix with Ajax.


Cue for giggles.

8 comments:

Plutarch said...

But O for the smell of Jeyes Fluid on concrete steps and scrubbed latrines!

Sir Hugh said...

I'm not particular about toothpaste brand, but do miss my electric toothbrush when backpacking.

herhimnbryn said...

Swarfega = my Pa's garage.

Soap for me is a particular Almond soap from L'Occitane. Or Wright's Coal Tar soap.

Washing up liquid can be anything, as long as it doesn't upset the balance of the septic tank and/or the dish washing water can be thrown on thr garden.

Rouchswalwe said...

I've been thinking about this one. And I've come to the conclusion that my washing-up liquid should ideally be clear. My toothpaste has to be Aquafresh with the three stripes. It brings me back to my childhood. I once dated a man who used a product called "Goop" to wash his hands. I found this to be incredibly sexy. But then my friends tell me I'm weird.

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Had you been a conscript in the French air force it wouldn't have been Jeyes but eau de Javel. A fairly rare integration of a proprietary name into the French language.

Sir Hugh: Visited the dentist yesterday re. a sensitive back tooth. She told me I scrub too hard with a conventional brush and asked me to revert to an electric. I'd used one for a time but discarded it on the grounds that it was one of those devices that had been unnecessarily electrified, a bit like those lethal carving knifes.

HHB: Surely Swarfega runs through Avus's veins. That and perhaps Castrol R. I'm a Wright's CT enthusiasist but Mrs BB forbids it, thinks it's too industrial.

If we had a septic tank (as we had in France) I would do everything possible to ensure I didn't upset it.

RW (sZ): Clear WU liquid, that I can understand. Aquafresh dates back to childhood and that's forgivable. But the rest! Though I'm not complaining I do believe we occasionally get too intimate. Actually, in Yorkshire where I was born, women no doubt thought it was sexy if their boyfriends washed their hands at all.

Plutarch said...

Au de Javel. And there was I thinking that it was something delicate that chic women dabbed behind their ears!

Avus said...

You are right about Castrol R, BB - what an evocative scent. When I rode the occasional old two-stroke motorcycle, wherein petrol had to be pre-mixed with oil, I would always add an additional teaspoonful of "R" to the two-stroke lubricant, just for that whiff from the exhaust.
Another favourite is the smell of Gunk on a hot engine - almost worth cleaning the bike to experience it.

Barrett Bonden said...

Avus: Some time in the early to mid-fifties, a motorcycle club decided to organise a road race in the Bradford region. The main sewage farm, at a village called Esholt (which was to form the setting for an early soap opera) became the venue, and spectator safety was ensured on the open stretches of road with thick wire posts strung together with a single strands of plastic tape. Most of the bikes were pre-war, including a couple of Scotts. I was terribly excited since car/m-c racing had been a subject, up to then, confined to bound copies of pre-war comics such as Boy's Own and Chums. The racing was incoherent but there was one thing that left an indelible memory. And you have touched on it.