The sweet smell of excess


The sweet smell of excess

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I used to be the poor man’s Jeremy Clarkson and co-hosted a TV show all about cars. This involved getting up very early in the morning for a six o’clock drive to wherever we were filming the car of the day in order to avoid the Johannesburg rush hour traffic. It wasn’t all fun. On the days when we had an Aston Martin or a Bentley to film and I was the lucky presenter things were great. But if you do a TV programme about cars you pretty soon run out of things to drive if you limit yourself to a budget of over R1 mln. So I also had to drive really rubbish cars and try and think of enough to say about them to fill an eight minute slot on the programme. Believe me, if you’re driving a bottom of the range Fiat that’s a challenge because the car only has a steering wheel, a couple of pedals and a sort of gearbox and that’s it. You could waffle on about the wind noise, the dreadful steering and the lack of absolutely anything attractive about the interior but that tends to alienate the advertisers so the tactic on TV is to damn with faint praise.

One of the cars I had to test drive and film wasn’t at all bad except for one thing. The designers had decided that the air vents should be fitted with small phials of perfume
which scented the car when the air conditioning was on. Why this particular manufacturer should have decided that a fragrance design division should take precedence over, say, a better road-holding design division is difficult to fathom. Clearly the manufacturer reckoned the car was as good looking as it could ever be and the driving dynamics were perfection itself so the only thing left would be to give the interior or the car a different smell from other makes of motor car. If I tell you that the manufacturer was French this will all suddenly make perfect sense.

There were different types of smell available and you could choose floral tones or peppermint. I commented at the time that leaving a box of After Eight mints on the dashboard on a summer’s day would give you much the same effect with the added bonus that you had something to eat. It wasn’t a huge success as a gimmick and, to my knowledge, the manufacturer’s latest models no longer have the option of blowing Chanel No 5 into the car’s cabin.

But this does bring me to the point of this week’s rant and that is the smells the manufacturer’s of toilet cleaners use for their products. Being a house husband I am expected to do what the famous fictional character Horace Rumpole (of The Bailey) called the “Vim shopping” . I am bewildered by the many coloured plastic bottles and the choice of pong to put in your toilet bowl. But I am not impressed because very little market research has gone into this. All the smells are of pine forests, pot-pourri, lavender, newly mown fields and things like that. Frankly, rather suspect choices for a bloke’s bathroom. My wife and I have separate bathrooms because….well to be honest I am very tidy and she isn’t. So I have a manly bathroom all done out in industrial steel, cherry wood and dark tiles. I don’t want pot-pourri in my toilet bowl. I want to go into my bathroom and smell cigars, musty wine cellars, sweaty Ukrainian lap dancers and the gentle scent of morning after brandy glasses. And I know I’m not the only one. So get with the programme all you toilet cleaner manufacturers and give us blokes something more masculine to pour into our toilet bowls. You’ll make a killing and we’ll spend longer in the bathroom.

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