King John’s Christmas Presents

For some years now I have been in the habit of making Christmas presents for friends and relatives, which usually take the shape of home made fragrances. This year I thought I would adapt my hobby to raise some money for my favourite cause, the People’s Vote.

Basically I am giving a few of these items away, on the understanding that the recipients will make a donation to the campaign. This is a win-win situation in that I feel I am doing my bit to help the country out of its quagmire, whilst the People’s Vote gets some cash and the recipients of the gift get a bargain.

The perfumes were developed three years ago to commemorate 800 years since the Magna Carta (google “Perfumer and flavorist King John” for detail). I designed the formulas based on aromatic materials that were around in the thirteenth century, then after conducting some trials in my studio I gave the idea to one of the global fragrance giants, who produced workable quantities, still on a small scale.

Naturally regulations have changed a bit since 1215 and just as King John had to bow to his barons and sign up to the Magna Carta, I had to accept that my formulations would have to be dumbed down to comply with modern requirements.

King John never liked the Magna Carta much, as it cramped his egotistical style, in fact he liked it about as much as Henry VIII liked the pope and David Cameron liked Europe. So this year, I broke free from constraints and decided to offer people a choice – the standard products of the global company, or my own versions not necessarily compliant with all the current red tape. The Brexit versions, you might say.

Cool Days For ladies of elegance and distinction. Here the non-compliant version features melissa oil (the lemon balm of your garden, from plants grown and distilled in Norfolk). Melissa was a main ingredient of Carmelite water, popular hundreds of years ago and an antecedent to Eau de Cologne. Melissa is rarely used today, partly because its use was restricted by a controversial ban and partly because it is extremely expensive.

Hot Knights For warriors and noblemen. A warm and spicy fragrance, but the non-compliant version has more character (in King John’s opinion). Some ingredients like oakmoss just cannot be used in perfumes any more, so great perfumes of the past have disappeared or are pale shadows of their former selves. King John hasn’t used oakmoss, but – even better for his knights – an extract from oak barrels. Let’s make the country great again!

So what do the people think? The sense of smell is very subjective, and you can no more predict people’s likes and dislikes than you can predict a referendum result. Surprisingly, many remain voters go for the “Brexit versions”, even when informed that this is what they are. And leave voters often seem quite happy with the regular, conformist perfumes. Which only shows, underneath our external appearances, we are all the same capricious creatures.

* John King is a retired doctor and Remain campaigner.

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