Walking up Holland Park Avenue last week, the weather again changed back to mild and now almost spring-like with some warm sunshine. People sitting outside pavement cafes with coffee and pastries, jackets on the back of seats and the aroma of cigar smoke drifting towards me on a soft breeze.
That distinctive smell instantly transporting me back to my sixties childhood. Parties where dinner is preceded by drinks in the lounge; salty crisps, peanuts, home-made cheese and tomato tartlets, a little shred of anchovy on top and at least one man in a blazer smoking a pungent cigar.
That particular smell which says …Glamour and sophistication and grown-ups all dressed up; alcohol and tomato juice and bitter lemons, drinks in crystal glasses and talk becoming louder above the sounds of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Sudden bursts of laughter. All witnessed by us giggling kids from our station on the stairs.
Saturday night entertainment for everybody.
And after, as they move slowly yet eagerly, greedily in fact, to the dining room and settle down to feast on the delicious bounties my mother produces from her smart, new kitchen, we dare to enter the lounge where the air has already grown stale, empty glasses with lipstick smeared on the rims and a fat cigar butt lying abandoned in the big glass ashtray.
The simple pleasure of an evocative smell that in a moment can take you back to another time, another era. A reminder that whilst lives change and people die, their essence and your experiences and images stay alive in your memory bank, your personal show reel ready to be retrieved on an unusually warm day in January.