Scent memory

Sometimes I find it hard to relax. Or, indeed, to do anything other than work, housework or anything deemed productive or comparatively more important than something selfish, just for me.

One of the things I like to do, but rarely make time for, is writing. I’ve shared some of my drafted fiction writing here and the odd blog post too, but I don’t give myself much time to write – not as much as I’d like. I’m hoping to force myself to do so this year and one of the ways I’m hoping to do it is with a new pad and pen. Provincial, perhaps, but I’m hoping it encourages me to jot down more ideas, sketches and brief stories.

The first thing I’ve been sketching out of late are memories. More specifically, scent memories. That sensation when a scent seemingly transports you back to a specific moment and place in time. Scent memories are often more vivid memories than anything experienced with visual cues and I sense they’re a useful trope to explore for potential in further fiction.


My own remembered scent memories are:

Avon Far Away Perfume, the big bathroom in my parent’s old house. The main bathroom in a Victorian four storey townhouse, complete with dressing screen and also home to my Mother’s stock of cosmetic products from when she was an Avon lady during my primary school years. This scent was one of her favourites and takes me back to when I used to help her sort the products into white paper bags for the mums in the playground.

Newspaper print, my Dad, wherever he is.

Sterile bathroom with a hint of peach air-freshener, my Nanna’s old bungalow in Cheshire.

Wet grass in the early summer evening, my Nanna’s garden, in Cheshire when my brother and I would visit over summer and help her and my Grandad water their enormous lawn.

Spearmint chewing gum, being hugged by my Aunty in her big kitchen in a Victorian end-terrace in Manchester.

Hot breath, kissing an old friend in his Exeter loft apartment.

Petrol fumes and hot tarmac in the heat of the sun, a holiday to Greece where we rode mopeds.

Cherry Drop hard boiled sweets, Sunday Mass at Our Lady Star Of The Sea R.C.

Hot Chocolate in a paper cup, with a plastic lid, a room on the first floor of Block A in Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester where we’d watch films.

Damp, old books, the former John Rylands University Library, University of Manchester and the galley-like archives of Orange Zone.

Boss Bottled by Hugo Boss, year 9 at my high school.

Do you have special scent memories? @jordanjmcdowell

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