Good Reading : December January 2016
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING DECEMBER 2015 / JANUARY 2016 26 Every woman has her all-time favour ite perfume – and it usually isn’t the one she’s currently wearing. Whatever it is, it will be a fragrance that triggers powerful memories of times gone. She may have smelled it at her grandmother’s or mother’s dressing table, it might have been her 16th birthday gift, it may be her wedding fragrance. But as long as her memory remains intact, she will never lose the ability to recall and evoke that all-time special scent in her mind. I have always loved perfume. Even in pre-school in the early 60s I was highly aware of fragrance. To this day, it is smell that can transport me faster than any other sense back to my childhood. For all of us it is the sense of smell that can release a tsunami of memories that might otherwise have been buried. Smell is our earliest sense, the most prehistoric of the five to evolve. Memory and smell invisibly hold hands across the most ancient part of our brain – the limbic region – that is concerned with emotion, and it is because of this that a whiff of lavender or violets can make baby boomers, for instance, instantly think of their grannies, or the smell of pineapple can whisk me back to the days when I lived in Africa as a preschooler. My parents were living in Africa for a few years during my childhood, and my brother and I would commute between Ghana and England. My mother would come home smelling of exotic scents she’d discovered on her travels. The day she arr ived wearing Ma Griffe by Carven – I might have been six by then – I was astonished and intrigued by that fragrance. But the day she arrived in a swirl of Chanel No. 5 it was as though I was experiencing an awakening. From the first glorious waft of No. 5, having my own perfume became my aim, and as soon as my mother considered me old enough at 14 to have a dab at my wrist and behind my ears, I used my precious pocket money to choose and purchase my fragrance – the one I still wear today with joy. I became a one-perfume woman for a COVER STORY She might be a bestselling author, but FIONA MCINTOSH occasionally wishes she’d taken the alternative career path of a perfumer, in which she could indulge her passion for mixing intoxicating combinations of fragrances that conjure up long- forgotten memories and heady emotions. Here Fiona recounts the role that perfumes have played in her life and how her fascination with fragrance led her to write her new novel, The Perfumer’s Secret. ERFUMER’S P ILGRIMAGE AL L But the day she arrived in a swirl of Chanel No. 5 it was as though I was experiencing an awakening.