• 9DR Smells

    9DR Smells

    Smells! I'm not sure I'm going to be able to re-evoke much of this aspect of 9 or 7 DR in this post if you haven't been there yourself - but then on the other hand, who reads this blog if they didn't use to know the two houses? Smells are like will-o'wisps, they tend to vanish as soon as you put your memory to the task. So I'm sure you'll help me remember places or occasions associated with smells in various parts of the two houses. The problem will be, I think, that I'm not sure at all which products (washing powder, perfumes, soap brands...) would be useful to help us connect with their smells.

    In fact, now that I'm trying to see where to start, I wonder whether smells weren't all over the place! I mean specific ones, ones which, were I to breathe them once again, I would immediately recognize them. Like this smell of loganberry jam in the making (top picture)! Suppose we start with the entrance then: perhaps you remember Noël writing a year ago (here) how he had smelled such a smell, and surprisingly he hadn't connected it with 9DR... Well, this is also a sort of problem for me: I know there was a specific smell, but I can't re-evoke it really; it remains an abstract memory, strange to say. What is certain is that the familiarity of the place was made of these very specific smells, the front room had a sweet smell, the kitchen (scullery as Grandma called it) another, especially when washing was hanging from the lift up/lift down railing, probably the type of washing powder used by the aunties; then the back room's musty smell when we were younger and it wasn't used any more, but later the smell changed when Grandma had decided to turn it into her bedroom.

    Upstairs, there is one exception to the faintness of my memories, and that's the toilets. I know that if I shut my eyes and block out my ears, I can almost get that whiff once again. It isn't because it smelled bad, but perhaps, yes, because it was rather strong. Then the bathroom, a smell coming from the soaps which were in there, and perhaps some disused brushes? Monsieur Père's lathing foam? (I remember looking with a certain awe to the old-fashioned manual razor, and telling myself it was heavy, that you might easily get hurt with it). The front room where lots of unused furniture stood and shone back at you: what used to be the smell? I'm sure there was one, and very clear. Perhaps the wood, or the paneling which had its distinctive scent. Or the varnish used to give the furniture its specific shine. When you opened little bedside furniture, they had a strong scent of medecine mixed with wood. The large cupboard on the left also smelled of oak or whichever wood it was made of. In the back room, where we were placed when we were younger (older, I was given Mum's little room), there was also a special scent, perhaps that of the sheets, and the chest of drawers under the window. By the way, does someone reading this remember that under a corner of the paper (a newspaper page I think) covering the bottom of the first drawer, we had written things like "I woz ere" with dates of successive visits??

    In Auntie Olive's house, my most vivid memory with respect to smells is that of her downstairs front room, and I know that, pushing the door, I would go in there especially for that. It smelled so incredible! Probably the stuff used to polish the furniture, but there was a pungency which amazed me. It was as if it positively inhabited the empty place. Somehow this room was always bathed in light coming through the white curtains, and the clock on the mantlepiece, which occasionally chimed its Big Ben chime, was the king on its throne. In the kitchen, the larder was also quite an interesting place, a mixture of varied smell of which I remember the smell of breadloaves and the mustiness of an enclosed space. Finally you can check here the discussion about the smells of the box room upstairs (it's in the comments section!).

    Another smell which I've referred to elsewhere is that creosote smell which was associated to Auntie Olive's shed in the garden:

    9DR Smells

    Funny that I used to like the whiff coming from it, perhaps because it was so distinctive. It gave the wood a kind of roughness, certainly the tar which was spread on it and protected it from the rain and sunlight.

    « Testimonies on Olive & Cecil from outside the familyNicknames »

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