LIVE: We're reporting live from Scratch + Sniff tonight. Click here for updates

23rd November, 2010

We're live-blogging and live-tweeting from Scratch + Sniff tonight. Tonight's event is called 'Scent and the Pen' and explores the relationship between literature, language and scent. You can read the updates on this page, or follow us on twitter here. Feel free to @basenotes on Twitter, or comment here while we transmit...

Newer updates will appear at the top. Start at the bottom, if you are catching up (Excuse typo's - I'll tidy up later!)

21.52 Event finished. Odette is thanking the speakers, and Les Senteurs for helping. Will update with Haiku's if I can get hold of them! Seems all had a good time. Next one is in January! See you there!

21:48 Scents revealed:

Scent 1

Audiences responses: Smells like Lush, motorboat, iodine, whisky, sappy oil sweaty, polish, coal tar, elastoplast

Fragrance revealed as: [strike]Antihéros[/strike] - no actually, Vierges & Toreros

Scent 2

Audiences responses: Sherbet lemons, orange, lemon merigne, no development

Fragrance revealed as: Cologne Grand Siècle 07

Scent 3

Audiences responses: Brandy, log cabin, cherry chocalte, Diana Ross's hair, moss, woodsmoke, exhausts, peppery, Christmas cake, sweat, toothpicks, wood

Fragrance revealed as: Coze 02

Scent 4

Audiences responses: Fresh peas, Paris, Old people's home, American girl in the Hamptons, Bitter, hotel soap, cool and watery, astroturf, astringent, fabric conditioner, freshly washed clothes, talcum powder, ointments, new-born baby's heads.

Fragrance revealed as: Papyrus de Ciane

Scent 5

Audiences responses:Pound shop incense, cat sex, dry shampoo, old talcum powder, turkish delight, air freshener in a minicab, old ladies, undergarments, dirty knickers

Fragrance revealed as: Caron's Nuit de Noel

21:29 We're back. Haiku's have been written, Lizzie/Odette is taking to the stage, pending microphone issues..

21:11 Everyone is sniffing and chatting away. There's a good mix of scent novices and experts. I now currently stink of five different unknown perfumes, though I've an idea of what a few of them might be. No spoilers though!

21.01 THere's some pics on Twitter, that I've uploaded.

21:00 Odette is welcoming us back to the 'interactive' part of S+S. Everyone has been given 5 scents. I'm currently trying to find 5 spots on my arm. Ball point coming out.

Apparently, this is the evening of the S+S Haiku challenge. We appear to have to make a Haiku for the scents.The best one of the evening wins a prize. Ambient music goes on....

20:56 Phew! Live blogging is really hard, but inspired by some lovely people on Twitter wishing me luck, including Basenoter, Jane Daly. We've all been given 5 unknown numbered scents.

20:38 Off for a break now. When we get back we're going to be given scents and attempt to classify and describe them.

20:37 Really interesting talk from Rowan. Can't give it justice here!

Ian is back to describe 19th C French poets - use of similie and metaphor. Using one sense to describe another. Lost WiFi! Was talk of TS Eliot, will reference, later.Ian reads 'Smell' by Wm. Carlos WilliamsOh strong-ridged and deeply hollowed

nose of mine! what will you not be smelling?

What tactless asses we are, you and I, boney nose,

always indiscriminate, always unashamed,

and now it is the souring flowers of the bedreggled

poplars: a festering pulp on the wet earth

beneath them. With what deep thirst

we quicken our desires

to that rank odor of a passing springtime!

Can you not be decent? Can you not reserve your ardors

for something less unlovely? What girl will care

for us, do you think, if we continue in these ways?

Must you taste everything? Must you know everything?

Must you have a part in everything?

Getting really good at finding poems on Google this evening!

20:29 More scents are being given out. Rowan talks about how people believed that scents would protect people from disease.

The first scent is Musc Ravageur (Malle). Odette is describing the contrasting reviews it often recieves.

In the mid 18C - shift of attitudes in smell, and fragrance. Perfumes became more floral and lighter, and the idea that people shouldnt bother others with their scent

Another scent is given out - Carnal Flower.

Poem : The Sensitive Plant - Percy Shelley (about Mimosa)

20:19 Jonathan Swift uses 'stink' in different ways. He wrote a lot of poems, "that showed the dark underside of women's beauty". Talk about Strephon and Chloe.

Talking about the fecal smell of civet. And discussion about fecal notes in general. And how scent hover between disgusting and beautiful.

20:12 Rowan: Scents are difficult to describe, unlike say coloyurs where we have an accepted way of describing. Historically smell has been seen as one of the low-end scents.

Talking about Frankinsence and Myrhh appearing in Christian, Greek, and other history.

Smoke, spices, flowers are important images for literature. Particularly flowers. An Anthology was orignally meant as a collection of flowers (links between scent and poetry)

Smell and Enlightenment. A period obsessed with scents. Chemistry developed out of alchemy in 18th C, and changed attitudes to perfumery. John Lock wrote at ent of 17C - the variety of smells which are as many almost, if not more than species of bodies in the world, do most of them want names... (I'll Google this later)

Lock's main idea was that smells were not taken notice of, in everyday life, so there has not been a reason for us to come up with names for them.

In 18C - disgusting smells attracted attention. Its interesting to work out how 'stinky' people were. One histrotian claims people almost never washed, while another says this is misleading, and they would do dry-washes - which would have been percieved as clean.

20:05 EEEEK just closed the tab where I was typing the responses to Scent 2. Thoughts from audience included bubblegum, washing powder, Britney Spears - and lots of other things that are now lost in the ether. The scent was revealed as Etat Libre d'Orange - Bendelerious. Not many people liked it, apart from one dissenting voice!

Ian will be back later. Dr Rowan is introduces as a literary creature, with a background in 18th century literature. Now exploring the sense of smell.

19:57 Ian is going to attempt to describe scent 1.

Ian asks us to interupt if we disagree with him. "floral, flowery opening. QUite warm, cool on the edge... some kind of fabric.. fur.. something soft... no broken glass yet! .. what kind of flowers.. coconut... licorice... kitchen smell.. in a restuarant.... spicy with orange... early OCtober, the Spring that was there at the begining is fading a little"

Odette: Do you think of indoors or outdoors, what season, where

Audience: Outdoors, cold, Finland,

Odette: Sound?


Ian: "Green leaves, tendrils, water"

Time of day

Audience: late afternoon, early morning, not early morning, dusk "musk at dusk" (laughs)

Odette: What sort of person would wear this?

Audience: Someone who wears linen

Fragrance is revealed as one inspired by Napolean (laughs), Eau de Glorie. Notes of bergamot, lemon, neroli, rosemary "think of roast lamb". As it dries down, there's leather. Interesting that people were thinking of winter. Asked if people liked it. Audience quite positive.

19:48 Ian Patterson is introduced. Each attendee is given two unknown perfumes.

19:47 Odette is talking about Heather Atman, born without a sense of smell, and the difficulties faced by her husband describing smells to her.

19:44 'Odette' is introducing the event. She's describing how our sense of smell helps trigger memories. Tonight's event is Scent and the Pen, and describes the difficulties of using language to describe scent. Rather than just saying 'that's nice', how can people describe scent.

19:34 Just had a chat with regular Scratch + Sniffer and Basenoter, NevilleM who has being trying out some of Krigler's scents (and the fact that BN doesn't have most of them in the directory). We're about to start, people are piling in. And they all smell really good!

19:10 - Lizzie Ostrom (aka 'Odette Toilette') and her colleagues are busy setting up. Scratch + Sniff Scent + the Pen starts in 20 minutes. We are here with poet and academic Dr Ian Patterson, from Cambridge University, and by Dr Rowan Boyson, who is currently writing a book on Smell in the 18th Century.

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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.


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