From Here To Eternity

Time, Death and Judgement 1900 George Frederic Watts 1817-1904 Presented by the artist 1900 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N01693

Time, Death and Judgement 1900 George Frederic Watts 1817-1904 

 

Surely we are all haunted by time; its cruelties and mysteries. When, on her accession in 1558, Elizabeth Tudor rode into London she paused – mystified – before an elaborate tableau of infants and ancients, all wreathed & garlanded in tinsel and out of season flowers (for the month was November). “Madam”, explained an Alderman, “it is an Allegory of Time.” “Ah” said the Queen “And Time hath brought me hither”.

The scary thing is, as far as we know – and as we are too well aware – Father Time travels one way only, and that’s not a comforting direction. To conflate the words of Lewis Carroll and George III’s daughter Elizabeth, this “vile old gentleman … he won’t stand for beating!”. Each of us learned at his mother’s knee how terrified Elizabeth Tudor was of the bony old fellow – the stopped clocks, the banished mirrors, the elaborate wigs and maquillage. One of our favourite ‘heritage monarchs’ has become almost a national symbol of the vanity of struggling against Time and his remorseless ravages.

There was a rather creepy piece in the newspapers this month all about the latest techniques in making cut flowers last longer via a technique “which muffles the DNA responsible for producing ethylene, the gas that ripens fruit and rots petals”*. I was a bit amazed, really: we nowadays already get a sachet of that funny syrupy preservative bound, gratis, to the cellophane wrappers of most shop blooms. Either that or inherent breeding seems to semi-embalm them. I have mentioned before that, in any case, I mistrust flowers that last too long in water: three weeks – with chrysanthemums¤ – being my record. When I was small it was always said that flowers that kept beyond their natural span were a sign that a death was imminent in the family circle. Blossoms that had stood by a death-bed never perished.

So I am instinctively averse to this new idea, a process known apparently as “RNA interference”¤¤. Why should we want plants to last for (nearly) ever? What a horrible idea. Classicists will recall the Trojan prince, Anchises, for whom his lover Aphrodite secured the gift of eternal life. She forgot to ask for concomitant youth; so that eventually – centuries later – she had to solicit her divine confreres once again, this time to beg for the poor shrivelled chirping husk to be transformed into a grasshopper.

Everlasting flowers direct our thoughts to the notion of perpetual perfume. There’s nothing new in the idea. Three centuries B.C. Theophrastus (“The Father of Botany”) was writing that “what women require is perfume that will last”. (And Greek men did too, to be sure; but they were not supposed to be interested in such stuff). Another ancient, Apollonius, wrote a treatise on about where to source the finest perfume oils in the Mediterranean region¤¤¤ – “insist on the best!” As we – and he – would say.

But the development of a fragrance that lingers for ever on the skin still remains elusive – thank goodness. The beauty of a scent is – almost by definition – fleeting and fugitive.  A lovely scent must fade naturally like a flower or a piece of music: we try in vain to catch or detain its fleeting passage; its transience is an essential part of its appeal. Bitter-sweet. Should a “fine-dining” meal last for ever? Or the act of love? A poem? So why a beautiful scent?¤¤¤¤ How unnatural that would be. When I was a tot I used to lie in bed and my grandmother would come in to say goodnight and plant a kiss on the palm of each hand. Then she’d fold my fingers over it. “Hold tight! Don’t let those kisses escape!”

But the kisses always managed to fly away.

Perfumers – expert perfumers – will temper the concentration of their creations to reflect mood. Take the Frederic Malle masterpiece Angeliques Sous La Pluie: perfect example. This is an evocation of a March breeze blowing over newly-turned earth; a passing inhalation of early spring shoots and of an awakening garden. People love it but many complain that it does not last well. Jean-Claude Ellena, the creator of this heavenly scent, conceived it as the lightest of eaux de toilette precisely to enhance & reflect that vision of exquisite fragile elusiveness. Desiring it to be robustly tenacious is as paradoxical as nursing a butterfly into ripe old age.

How heartening to reflect that we are after all – just like the Book of Genesis and that famous hymn always said – “frail children of dust”. Professor Brian Cox was telling the tale yet again on tv last night: we are all of us born from the dust of dying stars. And in turn we duly return to the stars. Our ancestors knew this instinctively: we modern know-it-alls have to have it demonstrated by science.

As Marie Stuart’s father said, “it came with a lass; it will go with a lass”. Let’s end as we came in with the attempts of a British Queen to hold back Time. One of Victoria’s grand daughters remembered how the old lady smelled so deliciously of orange blossom imported from the Riviera. Others remembered her aura of immaculate cleanliness. When the Queen was young, she had her babies’ tiny arms, legs, hands and feet cast in marble to have about her, laid on cushions. A sweet idea in some ways; but now, with those nine children all long gone, there is something faintly macabre in the sight, rather reminiscent of the upsetting cadavers of Pompeii. Especially as, at the time, Victoria had found all those babies a sad and fretting trial. Like many a modern tourist, she concentrated more on capturing the image than relishing the actuality.

Those cold stone limbs remind me of a bottle of scent, romanticised and idealised but never used: lovingly preserved for an special occasion that never comes. Today – as regards perfume as with everything else – HAS to be the day! Sufficient to the day is the perfume thereof.

* The Times –  4/6/16

¤ “such serviceable flowers” – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

¤¤ all readers of Enid Blyton will jar at the connotations of the word “interference”. Very similar to “meddling”.

¤¤¤. Crocus oil from Rhodes; spikenard from Tarsus; frankincense at Pergamon…

¤¤¤¤ years ago I remember in Harrods seeing a party of nuns in fits and tucks as they examined a bottle of “Eternity”. ‘Cheap at the price!’ cried one.

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All Hold Hands!

marlene palm

Well, this has been a dismal week that has led us a weary way to midsummer and to the Referendum. Strange auguries!¤ The scent of the roses has been blotted out by the constant rain: the inundation of the Midlands has been terrible. All I can smell are water and damp; bubbling drains, wet conifers and woody bonfire smoke.

“Praise for the sweetness
Of the wet garden..”

But things can go too far; get out of hand. It is more like October than June. The downpours have bleached the landscape to a uniform shade of dun, like very old cotton garments. I’ve been watching greedily the rose buds thicken and proliferate on the bushes since March and now they have burst indeed, but into only poor sodden rotting sponges. I’ve been waiting for the perfume of those Constance Spry’s for eleven months and now I’ve all but missed it. Like Ayesha, I must wait a small eternity for the pillar of living flame to come rolling round again.   “Chastening work, gardening!” – a terrible reminder of the vanity of human hopes. The only thing to hold onto is, that the garden ultimately rights itself in an eternal cycle, and certainly not solely by the agency of human hands.

Our hands! The hands that will duly inscribe the ballot paper on June 23rd now tie up the shattered lupins and collect the snails in a pail. Hands that speak a second language, and reveal in their marks and movements, their opening and closing, all the secrets of their owner’s character. What the Chinese admiringly call “orchid hands”.

And those “pale hands I loved beside the Shalimar…pale hands, pink tipped, like Lotus buds that float …pale dispensers of my Joys and Pains…”. Or, as it may be: dry, cracked and crinkled like autumn leaves or baby armadillos¤¤.

Hands – like our noses and sense of smell – are even more individual than we once thought. Pathologists can now identify a person by the whorls, flecks and lines on the back of a hand as definitively as by finger prints. And look at your palms, lined like miniature maps of the universe – the tracks of the stars and of your tears. “All human life is here”.

Years ago, long before I came to work at Les Senteurs, I lived for a season in Germany. An aged neighbour, with whom I used to drink Advocaat and eat Spekulos biscuits of a Friday evening, told me I had hands like the Madonna. I have never had such an extravagant – fanciful, even – compliment, before or since. The dear lady still had very sharp eyes: she must have seen something that neither I nor anyone else ever has. She also told me that during the War her husband – a relative of Chekov’s – had obliged her to wear a certain perfume simply because it was endorsed by the actress Zarah Leander for whom the late Herr Zirkenbach had had “ein Schwarm”.

We were looking at the shop the other day at a French phrase book published by the Daily Mail in 1930 – “Conversations of Real Use”. There is included a charming vignette “At The Perfumery”: interestingly, the vendeuse sprays the scent on Mme Dupont’s palm, not her wrist or the back of the hand. The fleshy palm (often a cannibal treat in times gone by) is an excellent reflector of perfume: it holds and disperses fragrance well and tenaciously. In addition, the palm is convenient and highly accessible for smelling while one is assessing the effect. And besides, if you wear scent on your palms, you will leave your exotic invasive imprint on everything – and everyone – you touch. A delicious memory, a fragrant echo left in your wake: an act of possessing – “I belong to Mme Bonaparte”.

It may well be that for us reticent British this is going just a little too far; a disconcerting act of intimacy. And I daresay the wrist is also a more practical and democratic area for testing: putting perfume on the palms is a bit like growing six inch Manchu finger nails. Unless you lead a life of complete luxurious leisure, the palms are going to be speedily corrupted by the countless smells of daily life, one rapidly succeeding the other. On the other hand, once your choice is made why not try the trick, at least for one enchanted evening? If you jib at spraying direct onto the hand – and, ladies! watch your nail polish! – then add your scent to a spot of unfragranced hand cream and so apply. I have been on the receiving end of this style of vampery: it is quite intoxicating. We are so sensitive to new smells that you only have to shake hands – at the very least – to seem subsumed in the other’s aura, drenched in their personality. ¤¤¤

You all remember what Chanel said – “wear perfume wherever you wish to be kissed”. The romantic novelist Elinor Glyn – the original identifier & curator of “It” – is said to have suggested to Rudolph Valentino that he kissed the palm of his leading lady’s hand rather than the conventional back. The result is well known – fans jumped into live volcanoes. Enjoy your perfume responsibly!’

¤ yesterday a great buzzard soared overhead in the vasty and briefly blue empyrean: now what does that signify?

¤¤ remember Madge, the outspoken manicurist of the Fairy Liquid ads?

– “Sorry I’m late, Madge, they were mending the roads!”

– “Looks like you stopped to lend a hand..”

¤¤¤ I am thinking of Dietrich’s hands exuding Youth Dew outside the Stage Door of the Queen’s Theatre: June 1972. (And see also today’s illustration, as above).

No. 39 – why not pop round?

FF in her prime

 

I have made many stories of summer country scents. London smells in June have their own appeal and glamour of a more raucous, highly-coloured sort. They are equally nostalgic. Rural smells remind us of childhood. City scents seem more expansive, more dramatic: they speak of the rise & fall of civilisations. At midsummer the gardens of Islington, Holloway and Camden boil with brilliant roses, spilling perfume into the heavy hot dusty air. Roses roses everywhere – nor any drop to drink. Cut grass, not lying wet and lush but drying almost immediately to fragrant oily hay – baked in diesel fumes, grilled on iron railings, fried on concrete pavements. The immortal privet: creamy sneezy flowers that counterpoint the thick stinging reek of traffic and the private lives of street cats. Spicy geraniums flare up like dodgy rockets; London jasmine is nowadays as luxuriant as that of Cairo or Damascus. Our last winter (sic) was so mild that the Holloway jasmine flowered – if diminuendo – right through Christmas. In the forecourts of redundant churches, decayed shops and old garages, honeysuckle, elder and clematis run riot in a clinging tendrilled madman’s paradise.

These sooty hanging gardens of the sidewalks put me in mind of old-time music hall artistes, all rouged and paillette’d, frizzly-hair-tonged and drenchingly scented. Gertie Gitana and Vesta Victoria; Florrie Forde in her “trellis of Dorothy Perkins roses”¤ and Marie Lloyd. (The tragic cockney Lloyd is best remembered but I prefer Florrie Forde: bigger, tougher, with a crisp bitten-off Australian enunciation.  And she had better songs, too. “If they haven’t got it by the second chorus, I drop the number”). These ladies – and their gentlemen – painted in broad strokes just as London flowers do: they had no access to microphones – or any other technology – they didn’t need any help. Their natural equipment was coarsely spectacular, larger than life; and their acts were simple, rudimentary and put across with immense swagger and confidence.

Did I ever tell you? When I’m in Town I put up just across from Hilldrop Crescent. You know, where Dr Crippen lived. In 1910 he murdered his wife, a noisy unsuccessful music hall performer. Crippen filleted the remains and buried portions of poor Cora in the cellar of No. 39. They never found the head. The house got a direct hit in the Blitz but its neighbours on the outer edge of the Crescent are still as they were a century ago¤¤, and the same trees are flourishing in their old age. Strange, isn’t it? … to think we can still smell the same foliage that the Crippens knew. They say that the gardens then, front and back, were luxuriant. If you’re ever up in N7 you can inhale the leaves once sniffed by Ethel le Neve, the Dr’s meek and mild typist, who moved into No. 39 after being told that Cora had absconded with a lover  –  gone for good. Only it’s funny, she’d left all her jewellery behind – and her fox furs, laid up in camphor.  Adornments which Ethel then wore when out and about.

There are many fascinating books on the Crippen crime. I have just read an excellent novelisation by Emlyn Williams ¤¤¤: he characterises the women in the case by their perfumes – Cora, the voluptuous Polish-American, smells like a pungent crimson rose; Miss Le Neve, the modest office worker, is the personification of pale clean eau de cologne. Both fragrances, at different times, have their effect on H. H. Crippen’s sluggish libido.

The sense of smell is very strong in every aspect of the Crippen case. The Doctor’s proprietary quack remedies, the cloves and gargles of his dentistry services. His well-scrubbed, carbolic-clean, industrious & inventive little hands; the fatal dose of henbane-derived hyoscine that did for Cora. No. 39 was full of odours, none of them very nice. After his arrest, Crippen tried to explain away the ghastly remains in the cellar by saying there had always been a bad smell in the house – always – ever since the fatal day he and Mrs Crippen had moved in. The terrible stench that eventually revealed the Doctor’s guilt had policemen and detectives rushing upstairs, nauseous and half-fainting, to the garden and fresh air. Or fairly fresh, for the neighbourhood was always full of the smells, sounds and distressing noises of the Holloway livestock markets and slaughter houses.

Downstairs, No. 39 was redolent of gas mantles, Egyptian cigarettes, paint¤¤¤¤ and stale cooking – the Crippens took in lodgers for a bit. The Doctor had to polish their boots as part of the deal. The house also reeked of Cora’s cats who were kept indoors, never allowed out for fear of coming to grief in the Camden Road. For the same reason, the windows were kept always shut and locked¤¤¤¤¤. There was a certain amount of alcohol slopped about – sad evidence of “pre-drinking” – and much slovenly mess. A witness statement described the horrible basement kitchen, full of half-eaten meals, with Mrs Crippen’s gaudy gowns and stage costumes draped over chairs and dropping sequins into the full English breakfasts. (Once, at my prep school, a teacher opened a wardrobe and inside was a frying pan, full of dripping and a solitary sausage. I imagine No. 39 was like that).

Finally we may allow ourselves to speculate what perfume bottles littered Cora’s Maples dressing table, all looped up and petticoated in Nottingham lace. I shouldn’t think much light filtered in on the flacons of – very likely – Grossmith, Coty, Houbigant, early Caron, Floris, Rimmel, Coudray and Molinard. Some day soon, come into Les Senteurs and lose yourself in our Edwardiana section. Use your nose, your imagination and sense of history to see how this era set the ball rolling to empower the stunning artistry of perfume creation a century later.

¤ Louis Macneice – “Death of An Actress”

¤¤ just around the corner, on the Camden Road, stands Belmore House a modern block of sheltered housing. The name would appear to be the private joke of some architect or councillor involved with the project: for Cora Crippen’s stage name was Belle Elmore.

¤¤¤ Dr Crippen’s Diary, Robson Books 1987.

¤¤¤¤ Cora liked to have every room a bright and lively pink – her lucky colour!.

¤¤¤¤¤ fleeting memories here of Vivien Leigh keeping the cat box on the floor of her wardrobe. Kitty-Litter with Balenciaga hems hanging just above…

POSTSCRIPT:

A propos of last week’s piece on leeks.

A regular reader writes with a germane comment regarding the pristine cleanliness of the modern leek:

“…You ask, How do they do it?  I’ll tell you: they grow them in water and soluble nutrients; not in soil/compost!  Never see a real field …”

Thank You, sir!

I am qualmish at the smell of leek

leekz

 

“We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick…”
Book of Numbers : 11.v.

Such an evocative passage from the Old Testament. How acutely these ancient texts show up the unchanging resonance of human nature! How well we can imagine the Children of Israel recollecting the bursting fruits and piquant vegetables as they wandered in the scrubby desert of Sinai; in “the cloud abode in the wilderness of Paran”. All that flavour, appetising smell and juicy texture – the cool luscious melons and cucumbers; the hot tang of the roots. “But now” they said to Moses, “..now there is nothing at all: we have nought save this manna to look to.”¤ You can hear them now, with a derisive emphasis on the word “manna”.

Thousands of years later those lost dinners of Egypt continue to emit a distinct and pungent aroma.  We judge the ripeness of a melon by its warm, earthy succulent scent. Garlic cleans the blood and brightens up almost any vegetarian dish. As to cucumbers, I share in a family trait of finding them indigestible. My grandfather – quoting some Edwardian wit? –  used to say that the best way of preparing a cucumber was to cut it in half and put in the dustbin. But, well watered – drought makes them horribly bitter – cucumbers can taste and smell wonderful. Cucumber waters and flesh whiten and tone the skin, bleach out freckles and soothe swelling and puffiness beneath the eyes. In perfumery, cucumber brings to fragrances such as EN PASSANT and 24 OCTOBRE 1985 a glassy translucent coolth, a green watery subtlety and a sense of light wholesome fraicheur. (Woods of Windsor used to make an exquisite cucumber cologne – and a cucumber blended with roses). Cucumber smells wonderful in food too: as in Marlene Dietrich’s recipe which serves it with with sour cream and masses of chopped dill¤¤. Or, again, inhale the summer delicacy of pure and simple cucumber sandwiches – on brown bread with plenty of butter, salt and black pepper.

As to leeks : the oldest vegetable on earth. The root that nourished the pyramid builders; the medicine that cured medieval lepers (was their disease actually scurvy?); the badge of Wales. I am currently enjoying a near-mania for them. You see, I was reared on leeks but enjoyed them then only with reservations. My father grew leeks but – as with all vegetables – he would never allow them to be culled when young and tender. Eventually great tough things were dug and the everlasting problem was, how to clean them of the grit, dirt and soil which penetrated every one of their hundred skins. So the leeks were put under the hose, washed in the drain, soaked in a bucket, scrubbed, trimmed and peeled before coming to table well boiled. Tasty – though still gritty – but the whole house smelled of them: especially the laundry, hanging like a Coronation canopy below the kitchen ceiling.

Jane Grigson remarks in her wonderful Vegetable Book that it was partly because of their smell that leeks fell from favour for centuries, as British society became more genteel. Root vegetables were despised as the food of the poor; and the fashionable worried about the taint of leeks and onions on their breath.

Now here’s a recipe that I must share with you; something you can photograph and Instagram, and bring to table with pride. A credit to any occasion! My Director originally brought it to my attention and I have since somewhat developed and expanded it. It smells of sweet summer, health, efficiency and vigour.

Take a few leeks and chop them into thick rings. If you buy them at the supermarket you will gasp and stretch your eyes at how clean, how pearly white and smooth they are: like the arms of Norse goddesses. No grit at all. How do they do it? You tell me. Some kind of power-shower?

Rinse the rings in a colander, drain and chuck into a saucepan. That will be enough water. Add a dash of olive oil, another of tomato ketchup; a pinch of salt and a lot of ground black pepper. Inhale deeply. Then cover, and cook very slowly on a low heat until soft: no more than 15 minutes. Stir from time to time. If you desire, throw in a few whole cumin seeds and a little chopped dried fruit – the sort of mixture that’s sold for fruit cakes. Serve alone, with poached eggs, smoked fish or what you will.

Mahlzeit! ‘

* Shakespeare, HENRY V

¤ “and the manna was like coriander seed, and the appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium…the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil”. The Book of Exodus agrees with the coriander likeness but says that “the taste of it was like wafers made with honey”. In either case – one would imagine – very toothsome. How ideas of fragrance permeate the entire Bible and indeed so many other religious texts. And no wonder: the origins of perfume lie in worship.

¤¤ See her unique “ABC”. Marlene calls for the cucumber to be peeled; and then drained of its juices overnight. You weight down the slices in a covered dish so that the water pours out. This precautionary procedure seems to obviate the indigestion.

FEVERFEW

fever

 

When we were young the lilacs seemed to bloom all summer: nowadays they steal away so quick and crafty, like a thief in the night¤. One day, a froth of snow white, purple or mauve; the next, a creeping brown withered corruption.  But o! that brief enthralling scent: so addictive in nature, so rare in perfume. This is one of my favourite weeks of the year in the garden. Not only the lilac, heaped up like ice cream on green spear-shaped dishes, but the bearded flags in fragrant flower and the roses just about to pop – very abundant buds, this June, nourished with Lincolnshire horse manure. For a backdrop, the azaleas and rhododendrons in flagrant pink, apricot and crimson splendour. The thick powdery drunken scent of the may, the cow parsley and the new meadow grass combine with the more genteel herbaceous smells. Things seem to be coming right at last. The sweet smell of success.

I was poking about in an allotment sale looking for a cutting of feverfew to pot up. All the stall holders were talking about this weird horticultural year and the sense of disheartenment creeping in among their members: maybe more than that, almost a sense of dread. The times seem morbidly out of joint. Everyone’s patch ran mad during and after the warm damp non-winter and the slow cold coming of spring.

There’s nothing like a garden consistently failing to awake a sense of cosmic unease; it’s the tiny part of the universe you can be held accountable for. It is a miniature mirror of the greater world; and when it goes wrong panic may set in. We feel like our father Adam, confronted by the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day and requiring an explanation. For we cannot control vegetation, only encourage and protect, advise and warn. This spring we’ve all been afflicted with late frosts, prematurely early lily beetle¤¤, an invasion of sinister and pernicious ground elder. Tulip and Dutch iris bulbs have been eaten by ‘A Something Underground’. You’ll have heard, no doubt, of the warning of an invasion of “slugs the size of rats”¤¤¤. Oh, and the clothes moths are back – in a big way¤¤¤¤

So….anyway!….this feverfew: it’s a modest plant, very ancient, of great prettiness and interest. It has brilliant green feathery leaves and white daisy-like flowers which go on and on all summer. For centuries the intensely bitter-scented foliage has been brewed as a remedy against headache, migraine and upset tums. It grows like a weed once you get it going, but of course, “c’est le premier pas qui coute” – and CAN I establish feverfew in my thick clogged unforgiving clay? I cannot. And the allotment gentlemen were unable to help me. A charming and very knowledgeable gardener said, “You’ll find no feverfew here!” And for a very interesting reason. He was highly allergic to it. His wife is a herbalist and had tied bunches of feverfew to dry on the clothes rack in the kitchen. My friend returned home at the end of a long day, came over funny and passed out. Next day: still sick and wonky. Tests were made by Doctor. It was the sour scent of the feverfew, which seemed to bring on the very symptoms that it normally cures. A kind of short-circuiting. I was enthralled – though I left the market empty-handed.

ferverfew-2
My other little adventure was with this wide-eyed racing pigeon which stopped off in my garden for a rest. Being a high-toned, delicately-reared bird it didn’t understand bread: I gave it sunflower kernels and some oats. But as the pigeon was still voracious I then crumbled some bread very fine and mixed the crumbs with the house budgie’s Trill. This pleased the visitor up to a point, though not wildly so. I laid the dish aside. Hours later: I am warming some baked beans for tea and find the dish of crumbs. “These will make a tasty topping” – I pop them into the mixture with a little olive oil. A surprisingly crunchy texture! I had quite forgot all the Trill. Well, no harm done – and an interesting new eating experience.

This pigeon kept making sorties like Noah’s raven and dove: finally, like the dove, she returned not. I hope she made it safely home and was warmly welcomed back into the loft. But I am never quite sure about the comings and goings of strange birds: I was brought up to see them as auguries. Well, we shall see.

Welcome to June!

¤ and apple blossom is even more fragile and transient: one of Dame Nature’s most delicious scents but the flowers are as fleeting as the lightest cologne.

¤¤ exquisitely pretty, like polished coral beads – but so deadly, cunning and merciless. A pair of beetles will destroy a fully-grown lily within hours. Squashing them is the only option.

¤¤¤ you can sometimes catch them with alluringly fragranced traps of beer or hollowed out orange rinds. A “honey trap”, indeed.

¤¤¤¤ take all your clothes out of their storage spaces. Bake them in the sun: either in the garden or at a sunny window. This kills the moth eggs. Moths and their progeny loathe and fear hot clear sun. Shake, shake, shake. Scour all your closets and cupboards. Repeat the process then lay garments up with appropriate herbal moth repellents such as artemisia, lavender, rosemary, thyme, patchouli. Camphor, too, if you can get it. Keep shaking, airing and checking at regular intervals. The whole business is so time-consuming and so nerve-wracking that you might consider excluding pure wool from your wardrobe or – at any rate – severely limiting it.