Thursday, 16 September 2010

Perfume, pubs, people-watching, all of that.

So in the pub the other night - people-watching, like one does. At the table next to us, a couple. We decided (after they'd gone, we're not animals, for God's sake) that they were either a long-married couple on the verge of meltdown ("You bastard, Adrian, I told you not to gamble away the solar panel subsidy!!!") OR on a first date where they had both been grossly misrepresented, either by mutual friends ("They said you looked like Brad Pitt!" "Well they said you looked like someone off Strictly Come Dancing, but they didn't mention it was Anne Widdecombe!") or themselves ("Fun-loving curvy blond/e... loads of personality... my mum says I'm handsome..." fill in gap).
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.



I'm going to blame my increasing deafness on waxy build-up (sorry, if you're eating) and the poor acoustic quality of the average restaurant/pub. I never seem to have problems at home or, mostly, at work. But I have been suffering from what I can only call "Freudian deafness" for years - in my previous career in Frenchish Airways I spent a lot of time on the phone and had to double-check the obvious mispronunciations : "Caen" instead of "Cannes", "Dakar" for "Dhaka", and on one memorable occasion something that could have been Biarritz, Bayreuth or Beirut. The travel agent wasn't sure which one the customer wanted (my tip? Don't book with them EVER), so I ended up saying "Do they want surfing, opera or bomb-craters?". She didn't know that either. It was a 66% chance the customer ended up in the wrong place.
I also frequently mis-heard the word "y-fronts" for the far more commonly used "reference" ("If I could just take down your y-fronts for this booking?"). Oh, the hilarity.
The end result of constantly saying "Sorry, could you repeat that?" is, inevitably, that your ears get lazy and you say it to everything. But it helps if at least the context is an indication of where the conversation should have been going - after all, y-fronts rarely get mentioned in the context of booking an airline ticket. Mr F and I went out for dinner on Saturday, to a fantastically nice (if slightly pricey) old-school proper Italian restaurant (osso bucco, Chianti, rabbit ragu, that kind of shenanigans) and while it was lovely, the acoustics were slightly trying. And at one point, while he was attempting to discuss burning news issues of the day (Koran-burning, in fact), I said "Sorry?" once too often. "THE PASTOR, THE PASTOR!!!" he yelled. Three waiters looked up in panic. Try saying it aloud. It wasn't just me.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Sorry again

The "posting regularly" issue seems to be a tricky one for me. I promise I'll start again now the days are chillier and there's less to do in the sun at lunchtime. In the meantime, here is a picture of my lovely new socks, which I was forced to buy as shoes now seem to be obligatory. I miss my FitFlops.