Just under a year ago, I broke my back falling down my own stairs. Stupid, really.*
The strangest part about this whole incident, however, is not the period I spent in hospital in the same ward as a lot of old people with broken hips. Nor the time I spent feeling like Iron Man in an orthotic frame. Nor the fact that I walked, for a while, with a stick, nor indeed the fact that I can still walk at all. The strangest and most unexpected part about this was that it alerted me to something I have always known, but never pursued in any real depth: that scent, good, bad and ambiguously odd, is crucial to human experience. I couldn’t shower properly for about three months, and I became painfully aware of being…well, stinky. Consequently, I grew obsessed with experimenting with perfume and, through YouTube, became aware of a company called Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab (BPAL), who specialize in creating esoteric, oil based scents, which, unlike most conventional perfumes which are contained within a carrier (usually alcohol), and so smell the same on everyone, react with the skin chemistry of each individual wearer. I. Was. Smitten.
BPAL do seasonal collections, one of their most popular being their Halloweenies. These were released to sale on Thursday night/Friday morning, and within three hours of seeing this, I’d bought an obscene number of their scents. I thought that it would be good to have a prelude and countdown to the arrival of these new, autumnal smells. So I thought I would do a 31 smells in 31 days: one for every day of October. So, here goes.
Disclaimer: I am not a perfume expert, nor am I sponsored by BPAL or, indeed, anyone.
This was one of the first BPALs I wore, having been sent a collection of about 5 bottles and innumerable Imps by a Finnish friend. It’s a general catalogue scent, based on the Russian folk tale of Baba Yaga (it’s great, she lives in a chicken-foot house…). My version is aged – I don’t know how many years – and it is sweet and mellow with the black amber dominant. The edges of this scent are rimed with cigarette smoke – the musty edges of my Dad’s old tobacco jar, heady and addictive, sultry, dark, and implacable. It lingers in the nose and memory, but sinks, defiantly, into the night.
*By the way, I’m more or less OK now, aside from the occasional occurrence of a bad back which I like to call ‘Thunderbirding’.