“Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousand of miles and all the years you have lived.” Helen Keller
That is what I am going to write about today… Smell. Get over it, it’s not like you have a choice. I suppose you could send me ideas (it would appear I can weave a story out of just about anything), but for today, you are stuck with my topic.
I read recently that memory is attached to adrenalin. That would make sense to me. Most things that have terrified or excited me are planted well and truly in the filing system that is my brain. But for me, there is a whole other world to explore.
I have often been caught saying “Hmm… that doesn’t smell right to me..” and usually I am spot on. Let’s not mention the time Miss 16 decided she wasn’t going to show me her Mid-year school report and concocted the most elaborate deception this side of the Gaza Strip. I said, let’s not mention it!…. but can you say “1 month house arrest with hard labour.”
Ask me about my first day of school and I have a sudden rush of open lunch box with a cheese sandwich and a green apple. It could have been worse, much worse. The boy sitting next to me chose that day to forget his toilet training… big time. I can still see him squirming about and the teachers look of horror -- well there you go… smell.
We spent two years living in Bombay (it was Bombay then and will stay that way for me… Mumbai sounds like something a Telly Tubby eats) We had an apartment in a 5 star hotel, compliments of Mr Dear Husbands’ employer. There was only one thing missing, nothing crucial I suppose, if you live on astronaut food and mini bar selections… we had no kitchen. Oh, I could boil water and make a cup of tea… but all other meals were eaten in one of the many restaurants – or out of the snack boxes that I filled up each morning from the breakfast buffet. I lost weight faster than a B Grade starlet on a cocaine binge. Without the smell of onions being sautéed, or fresh bread straight from the oven, there were no juices flowing. No appetite.
Break the skin of a mandarin, and I am instantly transported back to a water skiing weekend as a kid… camping on a river bank. We gorged ourselves with mandarins from the neighbouring orchard. We ate and ate and ate… then we filled the back of the car with our ill-gotten gains. And continued to eat all the way home, tossing the peels out of the car window. I am pretty sure I didn’t eat another mandarin for about 20 years.
There are a million memories wrapped around my olfactory system. Some great, some not so great. But whatever you do, when you come to my house for breakfast, don’t burn the toast… it sets me off for the rest of the day and you will never hear the end of it.