THIS week, I can’t disguise my dismay that the final 10 days of 2008 have arrived and yet I have still to hear from any prominent perfumiers as to how I will feature in their 2009 plans.
In recent days, I have been bombarded by TV adverts for every scent imaginable, male and female. The adverts are all the same. Each features strange, moody images in the style of classic 1950s French movies. They irritate me immensely.
Being a scriptwriter for these adverts must be the best job in TV. All you do is add a breathy voiceover to a few seconds of blurry close-ups of an unshaven shirtless man or a shaven shirtless woman that says: “Bonkers, by Bloggs”, or whatever the fragrance is called.
Brilliant. What a job. Even I could do that. Where can I get an application form?
Still, I digress. My shock at the stony silence from Chanel, CK or Cacharel is because I seem to have missed out on the celebrity scent market again this year. Everybody’s doing it except me.
Famous women have long endorsed exotic perfumes. Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Gloria Swanson and Joan Collins all had fragrances sold under their names. In a marketing man’s dream – many a man’s dream, in fact – Marilyn Monroe said all she wore in bed was Chanel No. 5.
More recently, actresses such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Winslet, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Nicole Kidman have continued the fragrant tradition, as have singers such as Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Minogue and Celine Dion.
Now I wouldn’t say no to a quick sniff of Ms Minogue, Ms Parker or Ms Winslet’s scent, especially if they were wearing it and little else, but I balk at my nose being close-up and personal with some of the other “smellebrities” such as Jade Goody, Britney Spears, Victoria Beckham or Kerry Katona. Yuck.
Perfumes can be seductive, however. The ancient Egyptians used them as pre-lovemaking preparations; unlike modern Britain, where the preparation of choice seems to be an alluring mix of vodka, vindaloo and vomit.
Even Joseph Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana, had a perfume in her name, called Svetlana’s Breath. Anyone who pops a bottle of that into a woman’s stocking this week, thereby drawing parallels between their partner and the Soviet dictator, is a brave man who’ll probably spend the rest of the festive season in the shed with a Pot Noodle and a black eye.
In my view, though, even a wispy waft of Posh Spice is preferable to a whiff of her husband’s perfume range. Why would anyone want to have a sniff of David Beckham, Ewan McGregor, Antonio Banderas, Clive Owen or even Cliff Richard?
That said, their popularity means my distinctive male fragrance could be a big seller, too. Women would surely flock to buy Monday Columnist, by P&J, by the bucket-load. All I need is some chic French styling, like those TV adverts.
Cacharel, for example, markets a highly-successful brand called Pour L’homme. As “pour” is pronounced “poor”, my personal fragrance might be called Pour You, to reflect your state of mind if you were to buy it.
As I am to perfume what Gordon Brown is to stand-up comedy, however, I have decided instead to market anonymously a set of specially-created scents. My new range features some of those who have caused a stink in 2008.
First up is one for the BBC, which has shot itself in the foot so many times recently it barely has a leg left to stand on. The fragrance is a fusty fusion of mystique and mistakes, blending all those embarrassing foul-ups from Russell Brand to Strictly Come Dancing. It’s called Pour Management.
Next is one dedicated to those crooked high-financiers who feathered their own nests while spawning a recession by gambling with other people’s savings. This scent is a pungent potion of manures from throughout the world. Like the money-grabbers, it really stinks. It is called Pour Savers.
There’s one called Pour Idea, dedicated to builders of industrial-scale windfarms in scenic areas, and another called Pour Defence that might sell well to Aberdeen and Inverness Caley football fans. There’s one for failed US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, called Pour But Pretty, and perhaps the triumphant Mr Trump will endorse one, too, called Am No Pour Am Minted.
My final fragrance, however, is inspired by a chap who told me he was looking for a cowboy outfit for Christmas. I suggested he buy Aberdeen City Council.
Aberdeen councillors, more than most, need to come up smelling of roses in 2009. After a year of financial revelations that suggested incompetence on a breathtaking scale, my proposed perfume is a mix of smelling salts and snuff. Its name reflects their past performance. It’s called simply Pour.
You can’t buy these perfumes in shops, or anywhere else, of course, but the sentiments are not to be sniffed at.
For all those who have had a 2008 to forget, here’s to the sweet smell of success in 2009.
Finally, to my heroes of the week and a clatter of castanets, please, for Spanish tapas bar La Tasca, which has outlets in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. To my unbridled delight, its menus carry an “NG” symbol alongside those indicating that an item is, for example, gluten-free or suitable for vegetarians. The NG stands for no garlic. Yippee.
Having raised a stink for years about the odorous bulb being secreted into food without my knowledge, I am delighted to award La Tasca the rare honour of five “Mikealin” stars – the highest personal accolade I can give to any enlightened eaterie that gives diners the choice to have it or not.
The world’s most obnoxious fragrance is under control, at last. I can breathe easily again.
My own Christmas dinner will be deliciously garlic-free, but whatever you eat, wherever you eat it and with whom, have a happy, peaceful and fragrant day.