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 The Scent That Captures That "1930s Moment"!

All material copyrighted to © 2014

or to the various credited sources © 2014



Violet-scented mother superiors of the Violet Convent

Chewing their dentures; old sorority girls twiddling

Their beaded necklaces like Irish rosaries as they hold court

In the clutter of hoary relics from old moribund sideboards

Hung with that unmistakeable bouquet of potpourri

And moth-repelling camphor, mingled liberally

With the artificial pastoral spray, vintage vapour,

Odour of DEVON VIOLET –scent of vicarious impoverishment

Dressed up in retro-patterns of taffeta curtains in past-time...

...Oldie-worldie curiosity boutiques with curvaceous art deco

Combing glass window-displays entombing deep-set doors,

Not lost and found shops, but mothballed lavender tombs

Of lumpen pharaohs, old dressing-tables of violet-scented

Nefertitis obfuscated by lifetimes’ mystifying fumes,

Who remember the days of real celebrities, true stars;

Of legions of oestrogen envious of Elizabeth Taylor’s

Violet eyes; of sniffing disapprovals and fuming over

Profumo; of averting sighs during the 'Chatterley' Affair;

Who can almost remember their own menopausal mothers

Traumatised by Black Narcissus, massacring hankies

Through Brief Encounter in fugs of cheap cigarette-smoke

And DEVON VIOLET's chipper whisps percolating like

Acrid incense in dark confessionals of misty picture houses;

Gossiping about the bed-hopping of Bloomsbury Set, those

Loose-living bohemians and that unnatural, vivacious

Violet Trefusis –what was it she said, by way of an epithet?

“Across my life only one word will be written: “Waste” –

Waste of love, waste of talent, waste of enterprise” –What

She meant was decadence, of course, that’s what she meant…





But isn’t ‘waste’ the cri de Coeur of the spoilt kids today,

So spoilt, in fact, that Tories are taking their toys away –

Fees for their tuitions trebled, shelf-stacking schemes

Rolled out for post-graduates, that’ll teach them to appreciate

The cost of education, the human price of unemployment,

The worth of their Micky Mouse degrees –but they’ve no

Right to complain about it, their debts will be paid off by

The time of their retirement, too late for mortgages,

Generation Rent will never know the sweet taste of material

Self-betterment, nor the smell of dignified labour, a bit

Like carbolic soap, not those proud odours sourced from...

The self-worth of paid “Work” (that malleable abstract),

Just giros and vouchers for these violet volunteers –violet

Vouchers as “goodwill gestures” before goodwill runs out,

Stigmatised altruists of Universal Credit’s outsourcing

Of unemployed cheap pools to charity shop placements,

Mandatory voluntarism, dockets for foodbanks and soup

Kitchens, most as impoverished as the invisible beneficiaries

Of the second-hand donations, and bound for second-hand

Lives of truncated aspirations, later to wheeze into some

Form of retirement, kept barely alive on state pensions

In the sour tang of shorthold autumns, bunches of ganglia

Grapes turgid with intangible learning of regulated age…





So they must reap the unripe fruits of youth’s fleeced tenancies

And disinherited benefits, gather them while they may,

Spit out the pips of aspiration and embrace the abstract past

In the absence of a guaranteed, graspable future: back

To hand-me-down, second-hand retro-fashions, cut-price

Cloths, halitosis and haute couture of riper times,

And vicarious excitements in the exchange shops

And flea-markets; the lavender-laced Laura Ashley

Head-scarf Flapper rations (choicest cast-offs for bohemians

Of the Glad Wrag-time); Icelandic volcanic ashtrays;

Colour-clashing Clarice Cliff crockery; glazed-fruit

Moorcroft, Majolika and Troika (Cornish and Kleptocratic),

Pottery; polished Staffordshire porcelain figures and

Mantelshelf dogs with burnt-orange patches; scratched

Antiques (in the end all that’s left of our time here is

Antiques, outlasting even our bones); ubiquitous boutiques

Daubed in lurid colours of boiled sweets; the cosmopolitan

Apocalypse of avalanching charity shops; and posh and not-

So-posh pottering spots cropping up all over the acropolis,

With quixotic names, variably violet-scented sobriquets:

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