At some point during the starter I turned to my brother-in-law, who takes us out to dinner regularly to thank us for allowing him to occasionally sleep on the cardboard placemat we like to call a spare bed (for work purposes only - he has a very nice family up North). I said "Are you covered in Vicks?". In my defence, he hadn't been feeling well. He was slightly taken aback, and said no, so I remained mildly confused. Until the angry couple left, after having spent most of the evening (while they weren't glaring at each other) texting other people. And I realised it was her perfume, namely (and I will name names) "Pomegranate Noir" by Jo Malone.
Don't get me wrong, I like it, especially on my friend Nix, but it is boldly heavy on what it claims to be opoponax (??? answers on a postcard), pepper, and patchouli. These are its claims, but I say there's a truckload of eucalyptus in there too. In large and over-optimistic first-date splash-it-all-over amounts, it smells of Vicks Vaporub. Or a koala, startled in the act of shoplifting some Vicks Vaporub and a pomegranate. And why not, if I was Jo Malone I'd use some high-flown word like "opoponax" rather than "Vicks".
At this moment I wondered whether their burgeoning relationship could have been salvaged if he hadn't got all the wrong olfactory signals, and either thought she had flu or was perhaps an aggressive man.