Anyone else sick of hearing about (the former) Kate Middleton’s post-delivery tummy fat and the big reveal concerning the “royal” baby’s name? Why do I have to see these baby-centric headlines, articles and photo spreads everywhere I look — I live in the U.S. for goodness sakes! I guess the royal family is England’s favorite “reality show” — comparable to the U.S. public's fascination with the Kardashian clan and their ilk.
Last week, as I watched (via TV) a toothless, happy-as-could-be elderly man on the streets of London, dressed in Union Jack-inspired clothes and carrying banners celebrating the birth of a male heir to the “throne,” I wondered: “Has he ever thought the tens of millions of dollars spent by his country on Queen Elizabeth and her kin could perhaps be better used for other purposes…like a set of teeth for himself?” None of my business I guess…find joy where you can.
But all this antiquated royal stuff made me search out the things I love about England: its literature, eccentrics, gardens…dogs! This past week, I put some Purcell, Dusty Springfield, Arne and The Smiths on the CD player, watched a few Mike Leigh films (the great Another Year and Life is Sweet) and looked through some poetry books. I came upon Ode on the Spring by Thomas Gray:
Lo! where the rosy-blosom’d Hours,
Fair Venus’ train appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo’s note,
The untaught harmony of spring:
While whisp’ring pleasure as they fly
Cool zephyrs thro’ the clear blue sky
Their gather’d fragrance fling.1
Ode on the Spring led me to the beautiful watercolor by William Blake you can see at the top of this post, and both poem and art led me to…Michigan! On my desk was a sample of Kerosene Pretty Machine2 (Kerosene is based near Detroit); not only did Pretty Machine and its linden fragrance blend perfectly with Gray’s poem of spring and, in mood, with Blake’s gentle artwork, it reminded me of England’s gorgeous scent-filled gardens.
Like two recent linden perfume discoveries, Pretty Machine is a worthy addition to the “common lime” tree (to use the British term for linden) genre. Pretty Machine starts off with the aromas of pungent, “green” citrus fruit (to my nose more “juice” than “peel”), this lively citrus, especially lime, adds sparkle and fizz to the sweet, dense linden blossom accord (rosewater-tinged, and also augmented with light neroli and sweet jasmine). Pretty Machine is instantly recognizable as a linden fragrance, but when smelled up close it has more complexity than your average linden perfume — I especially appreciate its rose and hyper-floral jasmine notes. Though musk and vetiver are listed as ingredients, neither, thankfully, intrudes (there’s not a hint of dirt in this fragrance).
Pretty Machine has good sillage and excellent lasting power; it’s a great unisex floral perfume. As an added bonus, the tough words “kerosene” and “machine” brushed away my annoyance, at least momentarily, with the fusty House of Windsor and its relentless PR machine. (By the way, some of my best friends, as they say, are staunch defenders and “followers” of the British royal family. And I certainly wish nothing but the best for George Alexander Louis — may he avoid the many pitfalls of inherited fame…and fortune.
Kerosene Pretty Machine is $140 for 100 ml Eau de Parfum. For buying information, see the listing for Kerosene under Perfume Houses.
1. Read the entire poem here.
2. Perfumer/owner John Pegg; Pretty Machine listed ingredients are lemon, bergamot, lime, neroli, linden blossom, orange blossom, jasmine, rose, vetiver and musk.
Note: top image by William Blake via Wikimedia Commons.