The Ocado delivery man (it was Ian in the Raspberry van, you will doubtless want to know) says our house smells like Christmas. Am I cooking Christmas pudding by any chance? he wants to know.
I am completely mystified. As regular readers know, I have been fully engaged (and Mr B somewhat less so) in Making Christmas - but so far I have not made anything Pudding Related. It's a little sad, really, and reminds me of those
far-off days when My Foursome were littl'uns and the Stirring of the Pudding was a major event of the half-term holiday. It's true that, come Christmas morning, I usually had to scrape a thin layer of mould off the top of my pudding before I committed it to
the saucepan of boiling water for hours of steaming but it tasted - and smelt - divine. Though I say it myself as shouldn't , as my dear Mum would have chided me.
So what could Ocado Man smell in the air?
We parted company - me to the garage to stow away the milk, butter and low-fat ice-cream in the fridge-freezer, he back to the Raspberry van - without coming to any sensible conclusion. It was only much later that I wondered whether possibly it might have
been the scent of my newly applied hair dye he was mistaking for figgy pudding. I couldn't ask Mr B who has no sense of smell nor could I ask anyone else for fear they would think I was quite, quite mad. Can you imagine it: "Does my hair smell of, like, Christmas
Scents and smells are enormously evocative, don't you agree? I was reminded of that this morning, sitting in the dentist's waiting room for Mr B to emerge from his six-monthly check-up. Everything
was alright with my world owing to the fact that I had been able to park right outside in the surgery forecourt, which made the short distance from car to door so much easier for Mr B to negotiate. Okay so we did have a Bit of Trouble with the lift doors which
kept closing on us, to Mr B's extreme (and very vocal) displeasure but even this was not enough to shake my feeling of Goodwill To All Men.
Sitting next to me in the waiting room was a former postman - "a
postie" he called himself - who recounted an extremely long story about how an awkward turn on a doorstep had caused problems with his leg which kept him off work for three months. It occurred to me that perhaps it was nerves, caused by that distinctive smell
of the dentist surgery, which had loosened his tongue. He was in the middle of explaining his miraculous recovery, the extent of which could be estimated by the fact that he had walked all the way to the dentist's from his home, four miles away, when he was
called into the surgery adjacent to the one in which Mr B was currently Otherwise Engaged. "Good talking to you!" was his parting remark. Maybe it was the Christmassy smell of my hair that had encouraged his outpourings? I'm not sure I managed to get a word
So now I'm sitting here, IPad on my lap, fingers poised above the keypad, thinking about Evocative Smells I Have Experienced, when the sweetest of memories possesses me. My dear Dad, writing about
his dear Dad, my Grandad, coming home from his hard daily slog on the railways. My Grandad was bringing up his three motherless children the best he could, trying not to dwell on the unfairness of life, the young wife who lost her life in the Flu Pandemic
It was the sweet smell of horses on his father's clothes that my Dad always remembered as he hugged the man who was his hero as well as his father. Not a smell we would associate with railways today
- but this was back in the early 1920s when horses were used for various tasks, in particular the shunting of vehicles. Years later, when he came to write down his earliest memories, that was the smell my father remembered best.
Strange, isn't it, that I have written a whole blog about smells - but the one that stays with me is the one I never smelt for myself.
The one, that is, that came from a hug for a little son
from a loving father.