they say the right way to apply cologne is to spray a single cloud of the stuff in front of you, and then walk through it,but i’m far too much of a tart to ever be that subtle,so what i do is i apply it under the arms like deodorant, then once dressed,spray generously again over all remaining skin surface, then finally,the lining of my jacket.
i fell in love with the stuff at the age of twelve when i would have laughingly called it aftershave. naturally at that time i was your perfect little problem child,but this was made all the worse after the jolt of having spent the last three years in sunny singapore air force camps, only now to be plonked back in freezing cold northern ireland.it was pre-bowie and the soundtrack to life back then was t-rex electric warrior…led zeppelin 4… deep purple fireball…melanie brand new key…rod stewart maggie may…cher gypsies tramps and thieves…..the piglets johnny reggae.
having now decided that my vocation was to be a rock and roll problem child,i attempted to cement this by locking the door to wreck my room like keith moon,topping that off with regular stabs at running away. the comic value of all this is in the acquiring of a curious combination of two things.the first was a friends elder sisters long to ankles double breasted overcoat,and the other was a green bottle of fabergé brut aftershave.you could smell me sailing down main street in portrush stinking of the cheap lovely muck, due to the splashing on every five minutes. on a night of running away i left the house around 8.pm, and with nowhere to go, got bored very quickly,so once again applying more brut,settled down to sleep in a red telephone box like in the finale of a topcat cartoon.when they came for me and opened the glass telephone booth door,the smell of brut nearly knocked them out….and because this public telephone box was only 500 yards down the road,i was in my proper bed within 15 minutes…..rock and roll, sugar tits!
this love affair with cologne had only just begun…i went through the usual male rites of passage..by the time i was eighteen, paco rabanne was the thing…then at 26 i graduated to christian dior eau savage…and then to the eau savage extremé. eau savage extremé for the innocent on-smeller was like having lemon sherbet sprinkled into your eyes.i wore that shit every day while recording my first album in london, where the recording engineer pleaded with me to go easy on the stuff,cause being locked in the confines of a control room with me all day was making it hard for him to see or breath.
it was also from the trenches of a recording studio in california that i finally fell for the cologne that i’ve been wearing now for 25 years.the record producer who is a beautifully cultivated man, bought me a book of postcards so i could write to folk back home .i never did send those postcards,but when the six months of recording was over and i was back in northern ireland for the wet and cold winter,i came across that book of cards….i flapped through the leafs of it, and the smell of his gorgeous cologne came wafting up at me…clearly he’d sprayed the gift for extrasensory gesture….so there i was..back in the freezing wet weather, where suddenly i had this euphoric recall of a special time, thanks to the power of cologne…..as i sniffed the fading fragrance off those pages,i thought about that record producer…i thought about the huge cultural difference between him and myself…..were i was, and still am a fairly basic specimen,that chap skips through life with an elegance and lightness of touch that i could only dream of.i felt that even though it was great to be shipped out of northern ireland into a summery california recording studio for a while, it was equally a thing to be around a deeply cultivated human being on a daily basis..it let me see first hand how far the bar can be raised.he instantly knew that i was the sort of shaky character who could easily de-rail my own situation on a whim,and he saved me from myself…he played me like a friggin viola,got me working fearlessly to the very last note of that second album.it was real nice…so the fragrant smell off that book of postcards from the cologne that he wore everyday on that beautiful summer became what i decided to wear myself as a personal symbol of what a good feeling smells like…another thing about this man was even though straight,he could be very camp,and enjoyed being so. for me that’s often a sign of a heavyweight straight man..he that can enjoy some sort of femininity in himself…paradoxically they’re easily in essence the most masculine and handsome,as apposed to the lightweight thugs who love nothing more than to talk with their fists.
so yes…i clocked this mans cologne and wanted it for myself…it’s a classic common vetiver,and i will most probably wear it till the day i die. i feel it’s good that i found my smell through a sweet experience rather than it being marketed to me.one day i might buy a big bottle of brut again to use as a room odourizer … i’m also thinking of buying a pyramid of tampax boxes for an ornamental display…..a sort of andy warhol flourish.
another interesting thing about cologne is the gay leather bars. it’s not permitted!..i’ve even seen signs at the entry where it lays that law down firmly.in those places they like other odours. …sweat…leather…cigars. it often makes me ponder when i edit out the poof juice for the occasional visit to the oh so electric leather bar.i feel like i betray the best part of myself by not reeking of good fragrance.
dear reader,i hope this bollox finds you in good humour. i will leave you with some sound and vision..the first is a liverpudlian poet who i’ve been into for years called gerry potter..this poem of his called ‘the effeminate’ … it really is a blockbuster piece of poetry…the other thing is of me extolling how the smell of urine is almost a sort of cologne in itself.
mary of the flagrant fragrant wilderness