This summer I shall be wearing Sandalwood Cologne from Geo. F. Trumper in London.
I first encountered this scent as a young man in South Kensington SW7 circa 1986. It was an unexpected, unlooked-for present from my mother two or three years after she had abandoned us for a drug-soaked hippy commune in California. It is the only such gift from her I can recall today.
What lay behind the gesture? Maybe, I thought at the time, she reasoned it would help me attract a girlfriend, a sort of compensation for her absence, I suppose, as mother-poor chaps are not exactly prime romantic material where women are concerned. Not, of course, that I needed any help in pulling totty.
Anyway, for a year or two I kept the cologne on the bathroom ledge in front of me while I shaved. The description on the back of the box, which I well remember, reads thus:
Sandalwood is a very rare and precious perfume and its popularity has caused many substitutes and inferior preparations to be produced.
To uphold our tradition of excellence, the Sandalwood oil used by Trumpers in the manufacture of our products is only of the very highest quality and originates from the mountainous Mysore area of India, the centre of world Sandalwood production.
"Santalum album", the Sandalwood tree is a marvel in itself, related to the English Mistletoe, it is a parasitic tree growing to a height of 40 feet and thriving best in the mountainous region of Mysore.
The history of Sandalwood is as old as civilisation itself. In Egypt it was known as long ago as 1700 BC and has been held in high esteem ever since. It has been used ads a burning material during religious rites of some of the world's greatest religions. The wood has also proved of excellent quality for carving but by far the greatest use has been for the extraction of Sandalwood oil from the heartwood of the tree.
Ever since the days of the Empire and the long association with India, Trumpers have been producing fine Sandalwood prefumes and preparations for gentleman.
Our Sandalwood Cologne continues that Trumper tradition.
Mysore. India. Egypt. Empire. Just the name itself--Trumper--encourages thoughts of all these things.
Sandalwood, however, provokes reflections of a different kind.