Friday, January 7, 2011

Pam's Perfume..seeking forgetfulness everywhere..

When I was in my early thirties Pam and I went shopping to York (she loved her little shopping trips to York where we'd always visit the glorious Droopy and Browns)  OK stop!  This story has now veered down a different road.  It's one of those moments again.  Droopy and Browns just this second came into my head and was not where I intended this story to go but look at the link above!  Look at the synchronicities!  Firstly the designer died at 50, something I didn't know. Secondly the article begins by talking about her shopping for perfume and wearing copious amounts of perfume when I'm just about to write a piece about perfume! Then it tells us she was a singer, like us. Then that she was into singing Brecht songs (I've just bought 5 books on Brecht and am reading about him)  And to cap it all off she was born July 10th and died November 3rd, Pam was born November 10th and died July 3rd.  Actually there is one more little coincidink.  The description of Angela Holmes turning heads as she walked her dogs in York all done up like a dogs dinner.  Our other sister Angie?  Just the same as a young woman.  One time Pam was shopping with a friend in the big Boots the Chemist in Manchester when her friend exclaimed, "look at that girl coming down the elevator!"  The young woman in question was dressed from head to foot in gold.  Gold suit, gold hat, gold shoes, gold handbag and gold make-up.  "Oh,"  said Pam, "That's my sister Angie."  And that's another thing they were both called Angela!  Twilight Zone theme tune going on in my head right now.  

OK so let me wander down this path for a bit and then I'll get back to the original story.  We found Droopy and Browns in York in the early eighties and immediately fell in love.  My then boyfriend Gabriel liked a navy blue polka dot dress he spotted there and made me buy it.  Pam and I bought various blouses and skirts there over the next ten years.  They were expensive but original and extremely well made.  Pam even bought her wedding dress there.  I still have it here.  It suited her down to the ground.  I can still picture her juicy, cudgily (my made up word for her... and I don't mean cudgel) arms in it.  You can just make out the name Droopy and Browns on the label.

Here's a funny story about that dress.  It was very expensive as you can probably gather from the photo, more than our dad really wanted to pay but she looked so stunning in it.  Anyway Pam used this same dress when she got married a second time and then I ended up getting married in it (second marriage and a long story) in 2006.  Dad said for the price he paid we should keep getting divorced and re-married just to get the value out of it!  Dear, dear..

The thing I find remarkable about the above link is this.  There I was today looking for a cure for my depression when I stumbled on the word Vetiver.  This led me to thinking about Pam's perfume, that led me to Angela Holmes of Droopy and Browns obituary which gave me the perfect advice on how to cure my depression!  If you read the obituary you will see what I mean.  Instead of getting distraught by watching the news, do as Angela did, "exclude drab reality" from my world.  Fill it with flowers and beauty, dress up and wear lots of perfume.  Live in a pink fluff world!  As my other sister Angie would say.  A notion that Angela Holmes no doubt would have saluted.   Don't join in!  Be an individual and to hell with the "culture of collective thought."  The other thing is that Pam too had a flair for glamour and beauty.  Like Angela she loved all things beautiful but went her own way never following the dictates of fashion and always turned her nose up at "trendies."  You'll see what I mean when I do a post on Pam's B&B. She liked what she liked. Viva la Difference!  So back to my original story which came to mind when I saw the word Vetiver this morning.

When I was in my early thirties around 1990 I found a perfume that I loved whilst shopping in York with Pam. The most sensual, odorous scent.  "This is going to be my signature perfume!"  I cried.  "At last I've found you!"  I don't know where I got the idea of a signature perfume from. Was it magazines? Other women?  My mother?  No it can't have been my mother because as soon as she got her nostrils on it she announced that it was going to be her new signature perfume.  "What?"  I said, "We can't both have it as our signature perfume." "Why not?"  She said, "It doesn't belong to you.  Don't be silly!"  And she continues to wear my signature perfume to this day.  In fact her grandson, my nephew Billy associates this perfume with his grandmother which makes it crystal clear who's signature perfume it is.  In fact I dabbed some on last night and thought of my mother. Dear, dear...

About a year before Pam was killed (sigh) she went with her husband Keith to San Francisco.  There she found her signature perfume.  "This is it!  I've found it at last Jane!  It's called Vetiver by Elizabeth W I'm only going to wear this from now on.  I love it!"  I wonder if on some level she knew it would be good for her (many) depressions?  It sits in my bathroom now and I wear it from time to time in her honour.  I'm going to squirt some on now and hope that it cures my depression.

Here's to you Pam and to Angela Holmes...Ute Lemper singing Youkali by Kurt Weill, the lyrics say it all.

It was almost to the end of the world
That my wandering boat
Straying at the will of the waves
Led me one day
The isle is very small
But the kind fairy that lives there
Invites us
To take a look around

Is the land of our desires
Is happiness, pleasure
Is the land where we forget all our worries
It is in our night, like a bright rift
The star we follow
It is Youkali

Is the respect of all vows exchanged
Is the land of love returned
It is the hope
That is in every human heart
The deliverance
We await for tomorrow

Is the land of our desires
Is happiness, pleasure
But it is a dream, a folly
There is no Youkali

And life carries us along
Tediously, day by day
But the poor human soul
Seeking forgetfulness everywhere
Has, in order to escape the world
Managed to find the mystery
In which our dreams burrow themselves
In some Youkali


  1. Jane, this is absolutely incredible. Every word and path of it. I am really just stunned. All those synchronicities with the Droopy and Browns article. This is life, if we keep looking. To find mystery, even while we seek to forget. What a gorgeous song, and haunting.

    The wedding dress is very, very beautiful. It is wonderful that it was worn often, and what your dad said is priceless!

  2. Well Jane I was all set out tonight to look up some vegetarian recipes, but got a little side tracked by one of your facebook posts I am so glad I did as it brought me here. What a pleasure it was to read and I hope there will be many more memories shared.

  3. Thanks Ruth, I know I was pretty stunned myself. I went from a floppy, depressed sighing person to all revved up and focussed. I feel for sure I was getting some input from 'somewhere', well I have to think so..

  4. Sally, thanks so much for coming here and reading but a big grin all round that you left a comment! cousin Sally?

  5. Jane, I'm here via the amazing Ruth's blog.

    I'm touched by the degree to which use your blog to commemorate your sister, her life and your relationshop together.

    Families are fundamental.

    My relationships with my sisters are perhaps more mixed than yours would seem, but to lose one of them, like you, I think I'd feel as if a part of me went missing.

    It's good to meet you.

  6. Welcome! Wahoo! Thank you Elisabeth for saying so. Pam and I had our problems too but we loved each other so much and were so in tune with each other, like you say a part of me has died. We went through a lot together, only she really knew me.. and now my boyfriend no Ron, thank god for him. I look forward to getting to know you.

  7. oh and Ruth is wonderful, I love her blog.

  8. This is wonderful Jane.
    Looking forward to seeing more about Pam.
    I miss her too, was thinking of her the other day while planning a trip to NY with my two daughters, Vanessa and Deva. They got me tickets to see the Addams family on Broadway. We are going to "Josie's" restaurant, where we went with Pam when she came to see my cabaret performance years ago.
    I know you're getting "input", hope I am too!
    Been buying flowers for myself lately to put in my kitchen and live in beauty...
    Do you have any videos of Pam singing?

  9. Hi Claudia, glad you like it. If you look around on this blog there are more articles about Pam plus a video called the Flower Duet of us singing... feedback on all the posts is much appreciated...