FROM THE BARBER'S CHAIR; Paul Daley's news & views.
Byline: Paul Daley's
THE French writer Marcel Proust claimed his most famous novel was inspired by the smell of a biscuit. He said the biscuits unique odour conjured up memories of his childhood.
I had a similar experience the other day when I whiffed the exotic pong of that most gentlemanly of smells. 'Old Spice'. The odour of this most pungent of aftershaves gave me affectionate memories of my teenage dabblings into men's fragrances. As a child the only 'cologne' (That's what they used to call men's deodorants ) in the bathroom cupboard was the daddy of men's aftershave. 'Old Spice' it was both recognised and accepted as a manly smell. Its distinctive white bottle with the little sailing ship motif. Old Spice would be liberally applied by the man of the house before leaving on a night out. It's aroma would hang around the place for most of the week. It stood alone in most British men's bathrooms until some time in the seventies when along with flower power and growing your hair long, came a new generation of 'smellies specifically created for the younger man.
The great smell of Brut didn't have the tag line 'splash it all over' for nothing. Testosterone high teens like me would literally bathe in the stuff. So powerful was its aroma, you could see the toxic cloud hanging over the wearer.
For the new generation, smelling good was no longer considered 'girlie' If it was good enough for boxing hero Henry Cooper then why wouldn't a boy want to wear it? The great smell of Brut played on the idea that you could smell good but still be a manly man. As the maker said, when you spray on your 'Drakar Noir' get ready to feel the power.
Paco Rabanne was just one of many fragrances I splashed and sprayed on in my youth. Calvin Klein CK1 was another favourite so was Ralph Lauren. Smelling good became more associated with sports, and no gym bag was complete without a handy can of Lynx.
My Marcel Proust 'Remembrance Of Things Past' moment is a thing of joy. It was a rights of passage that kickstarted my adolescence. Smelling good gave me a confidence and a swagger. I complimented this new me with my super trendy feather cut hairstyle that I'd had 'done' in a hairdressers instead of the barbers and which everyone thought was 'cool'. I like all my teenage compatriots must have thought We were the dogs...
We believed smelling good was like an aphrodisiac to women, spray on enough and we became irisistable. I'm reminded how important smelling good was back in the day every time I watch the movie Anchorman. News reporter Brian Fantana boasts about his secret cupboard filled with the most exotic of aftershaves.
| ||A LA RECHERCHE DU SCENT PERDU: Author and madeleine enthusiast Marcel Proust