With our average intake estimated by the BBC at 6,000 calories, the alimentary canal is in for a lively time tomorrow but spare a thought for that (literally) overlooked organ: the nose. Christmas Day and its aftermath is an olfactory roller coaster ranging from pleasing and appetising to embarrassing and downright noxious. You can get them all in the morning with the first squirt of newly opened scents and aftershaves.
The odd thing here is, as Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez point out in their acclaimed reference work Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, those that look the tackiest are often the most effective. It comes as no surprise that Salvador Dali’s Laguna Homme earns the critique, “If you drive a Moscow taxi at night, this one’s for you”, but the female version of the same scent gets a rave review: “immediately memorable, fiendishly clever”.
Anyone – well, anyone over 18 – ploughing through the Christmas wrapping to discover David Beckham’s Instinct would inwardly groan but it turns out to be “proof that snobbery in perfume is useless… a solid handsome piece of work”, while the ostensibly elegant Burberry London is damned as “chav spit”.
The smell of Christmas food, from the startling freshness of your first clementine to the exotic spiciness of a mince pie, is probably better than the consumption. Sometime before the great feast, there arrives a fragrant moment that, no matter how robust your breakfast, produces an agony of salivary anticipation. The supreme bard of yuletide perfectly captured the moment when the aromas of roast goose and freshly boiled Christmas pud billowed in the Cratchit household, “A smell like an eating-house and a pastry cook’s next door to each other, with a laundress’s next door to that!”
Sadly, the equal and opposite reaction to the anticipatory nasal cocktail occurs after the great feast. This mortifying topic was delicately tackled in yesterday’s Sun: “Wind-inducing sprouts are the reason most of us won’t have a Silent Night this year.” This seems unfair to the small, if undeniably potent brassica. The sheer scale of the meal, particularly the roast potatoes, chestnuts and chipolatas, is liable to induce repercussions.
Boxing Day used to provide one of the most distinctive yuletide aromas. Not too long ago, football terraces throughout the land would be redolent with the smoke from small, cheap cigars. Maybe the disappearance of Wills’s Whiffs is no great loss but like Old Spice after shave and the sour electrical smell of a Triang model train set, it is among the pongs of Christmas past. Though the young of today are incomparably better served in the present department, it is unlikely that they will look back nostalgically on the aroma of a freshly opened iPhone 5.