Monday, 4 December 2017

Hired, tired, and working up to the wire! Please excuse the Bonkers hiatus...

Well, after eight months in which I only managed to find work for two weeks(!), proverbial bus-style two big projects with short time frames have come along at once, and of course I have agreed to both. ;)

I was telling a friend who does Airbnb about how I may well have bitten off more than I can chew: "It's a bit like you having a guest in every bedroom - including your own - plus one on the sofa, one in the bath, and one on the bench in the garden."

Then because of the hours I am now keeping - one job is partly in the US so I could potentially be working round the clock - I can't give any thought to perfume at the moment, even though I have all sorts of posts in the pipeline. I am not even wearing the stuff on anything like a regular basis, such is the degree of my preoccupation with the tasks in hand. And my presence on Facebook is skeleton at best, which is highly unusual for me, as any FB friends will confirm!

So I will be back, but for the moment please bear with me for the ongoing hiatus. And for saying 'bear with me', for that matter.

Truffle is not too impressed either at the minimal interaction I have had with her lately, and has taken to staging dramatic stunts, such as this one with the radio flex outside my office door, which I am pretending I haven't noticed.


Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Scent Crimes Series: No 20 - Aggressively Laundered Bedding

Different duvet and a working bedside light! ~ Source: Booking.com
Over the years, I have stayed in a lot of problematic accommodation - much of it cheap(!), with a natural tendency to fall short in some way, but even some relatively pricy business hotels have managed to wrongfoot and disappoint. The business hotels on expenses are very much a thing of the past, as on the rare occasions I have work these days, it is invariably on the phone, but I do still stay in hotels and B & Bs on a leisure basis. And when it comes to London, my modest budget per night used to run to half decent chains fairly close to my familiar stomping ground of King's Cross (er no, not in that way...!). For the money you could also bag a borderline boutique B & B in Paddington or Earls Court - with en suite facilities and the happy surprise of a small packet of biscuits nestling next to the tea bags and UHT milk pots. As time has gone by, however, those places have sadly nearly doubled in price, and I have been forced out to unfamiliar suburbs such as Tottenham and Tufnell Park, Archway, Acton and Penge, depending on what is available in my price range.

And thus it was that I ended up recently spending one night in a district billed variously as 'Camden' and 'West Hampstead', both of which turned out to be creative naming devices for Kilburn. I had booked a single room with shared bathroom, the bathroom in question being a quick scurry away up one flight of stairs, so that was okay, plus I had a small basin in the room. Other plus points were the veritable profusion of accessible plug sockets...I once memorably stayed in a hotel where I had to boil the kettle in the corridor, as the plug sockets in the room itself were largely obstructed by furniture. Moreover, there was the luxury of a full length mirror - something conspicuously absent on last December's band tour, to the point where I almost started to wonder if the hotels concerned were collectively teaching me a lesson in vanity - within easy reach of said plug sockets, making hair drying with bonus sight of own head an uncharacteristically viable feat!

Then the bed was comfortable, and the pillow - though lone and flat - adequately bouncy. The central heating worked (if rather too well!), and the staff couldn't be more helpful, pressing a huge jug of fresh milk on me after I reported the presence of only one milk pot, when as we all know even a strong cup of tea requires two.

But there were downsides...the hotel spanned two houses and the front door banged constantly as people moved from one to the other; the bed sloped; there was no bedside light, no hangers, and only one small towel. But worse, much worse than any of this was the duvet cover, which had evidently been laundered in an entire packet of washing powder. Trying to sleep under it was like spending eight hours straight with your nose pressed in the contents of a box of Surf. I am not even talking an overly strong scent - this was the neat unadulterated smell of detergent of the most aggressive kind, with no discernible trace of fragrance. Strangely, the pillowcase was at a normal register of cleanness, ditto the sheet and towel, but for some reason the duvet cover had been subjected to a much more concentrated wash. As you entered the room, a miasma of chemicals assailed your nostrils. It hung in the air like an ash cloud, and I could feel my skin turning hot and prickly, not helped by the heating being on at full blast.


Source: Appliances Online

I have since googled the main categories of ingredients in washing powder and came up with this list:

Surfactants
Builders
Anti-redeposition Agents
Corrosion Inhibitor
Bleach
Bleach Activator
Phosphonate
Fluorescers
Lather Control Agents ('Suds Suppressor')
Enzymes
Fragrances (one fragrance may contain a few to hundreds of compounds)
Preservative

I must say I rather like the sound of a 'Suds Suppressor' and hope that wasn't an element in the mix that was troubling me. I certainly was not aware of any builders, bothersome or otherwise. Why, there would barely have been room to swing a jackhammer.

All night long I clung to the edge of the bed - I was determined not to fall off due to the angle of inclination, whilst also trying to keep my face away from contact with the duvet cover, for fear that it would trigger my eczema / dermatitis. Miraculously it didn't, but the very real possibility kept me awake till about 7am, whereupon the frequent banging of the front door took over until I finally got up about 9am, bleary-eyed and still wrinkling my nose in a state of high alert and trepidation.

So there you have it...in all my years of travelling I have never encountered this particular curved ball of repellently scented bedding, and would be most interested to learn if you have. Or whether you have any theories as to how this laundry fail could have occurred. A powder dosing error? A rinsing malfunction? A lamentable lack of other items in the load?!

Meanwhile, I have chalked it up to experience, left a damning yet balanced review on Booking.com, and remembered that when I am down in town again next year I have a total steal of a Travelodge to look forward to in Finsbury Park. And it's even paid for already...




Friday, 17 November 2017

Results of the Bonkers about Perfume 8th anniversary prize draw!

Well, the deadline for the anniversary prize draw came and went at the weekend, but I didn't want to steal Truffle's limelight by posting the results too soon after her own anniversary special. Plus I don't suppose the few participants who didn't actively withdraw from the draw will have been feeling an overwhelming sense of suspense, owing to the undeniably lacklustre nature of the prizes. ;) I wish I could post perfume worldwide as I used to do, as I really don't like doing lopsided giveaways that are only open to readers in the UK. However, I simply don't dare risk overseas shipments again, as the next time I am caught, we might be talking a fine or a custodial sentence, hehe.

I guess I could try putting up one of my knitted items next year? I do also have some unused metal atomisers that take 20ml and come in various colours. These are left over from back when I used to be an associate of The Perfume Studio, helping people create their own unique scents from a selection of blends featuring different accords. The problem with that idea is that the bottles say 'The Perfume Studio' on them, whereas people might prefer completely generic receptacles. But logo aside, they are rather nice if someone fancied doing a very large decant from an even larger bottle! Anyway, I toss these ideas out there for next time. Assuming I am still writing in 2018, as hopefully I will be.

And now the moment has come to reveal who has won one of the book/magazine-type prizes this time round. I had recourse as ever to Random.org, and can declare that the winner is:

crikey!!

Crikey, crikey, you've won! Congratulations, and PM me with your preferred option and contact details.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

More cat capers, feline felonies, and fur-raising high jinks: a two year Truffle anniversary special

Last Friday marked the two year anniversary of Truffle coming to live with me: I vividly recall the long, foggy car journey from Leicester, during which the little ball of fluff on the passenger seat beside me cheeped all the way to her new home. Two years on, she is fully grown, with battle scars, a loving but feisty nature, and a healthy disregard for the concept of being anyone's pet - the cat equivalent of  'chattel', if you will. Would that be 'cattel' by any chance? One of the 'takeaways' from my recent post on why readers comment on blogs was that more pictures of Truffle would be welcomed. So I thought that as it is nearly a year since I last featured a slew(!) of photos in a post dedicated to my cat's antics, it might be time for another, and the aforementioned anniversary presented an ideal opportunity.

Coincidentally, Truffle (and cats more generally) have been on my mind this week, as I decided to apply to several national pet sitting websites as a carer in the Stafford area - specifically for cats, though I gather the big money is to be made on simultaneously walking the dogs of different owners, rather than visiting a single cat in its home. Be that as it may, cat sitting is my chosen calling, and accordingly I set about creating 'compelling profiles' about myself and my cat caring history, to persuade owners why they should award their cat sitting gig to me. You also had to compile a gallery of photos: these might be of your own cat, or other people's cats you had looked after, or both! One site required me to take a sort of online exam, and answer questions about how I would act in particular scenarios, such as 'the dog you are looking after has been involved in an accident'. The answer to which was either 'not applicable' or prefaced by the statement that I would be recasting this question to refer to cats. (Some of these sites started out by offering dog care only, and have only recently 'grafted on' cats, as it were.)




Here, for example, is my profile on Pawshake:


"I am bonkers about cats, a 'cat person' to the core. I have owned them all my life (insofar as anyone can be said to 'own' a cat - which isn't very far, obviously). My parents got a kitten the week I was born - possibly in case I was a disappointment. ;) The present incumbent is a two year old tabby and white called Truffle, who is extremely adventurous, with a special flair for tree climbing, shed roof leaping, and sabotaging knitting. She is also very loving, and a surprisingly compliant user of her radiator bed, despite its being specifically for that purpose. Some early photos of Truffle are in fact the first hit in Google if you search for 'bonkers kitten'(!). 
As well as my own, I have cared regularly for other people's cats for the past five years, and see cat sitting as an excellent way to get to meet more of these quirky and lovable creatures. I am in my late 50s now, and realistically won't have lived with more than eight cats in a whole lifetime, and even that has required a few 'double ups' along the way. If I pass a cat in the street I always say hello, and am also compiling a portfolio of photos of local cats randomly sitting on walls. If I get up to 12, I might have the makings of a calendar!
I specialise purely in cat sitting, in the form of up to two home visits a day. Job-wise I am a self-employed industrial market researcher, and when I have work it is very flexible and largely home-based, nicely fitting around pet care commitments."

Me with a friend's cat, Hector (early 80s)

If you click on this link, it will take you to my profile on the site, including a gallery of photos. (As if there weren't going to be enough in this post, haha.) The websites take about 20% commission, but look after all the public liability and vetting of clients side of things, giving me as their agent an added layer of security.

But on to what Truffle has been up to, 'up' being the operative word, for she is proving to be the jumpiest cat of any I have ever known, and the most given to perching on high surfaces.

High jinks of the jumping kind





Here she is caught in mid-jump between my garden wall and next door's shed. It has taken me many months of patiently waiting - and experimenting with shutter speeds - to capture the jump itself.




And here is Truffle climbing on top of the kitchen cupboards. She had taken to sitting there last thing at night, prompting me to put her old fleecy bed up there, which hasn't been in use since she was a kitten, when it acted as a (quite unnecessary!) booster seat on the sofa.




And there she is two years on, in her bed but considerably higher up! Please excuse the peeling wallpaper on the kitchen ceiling. That will all be tackled as part of a bigger project to combat damp in several areas at the rear of the house, pending the acquisition of work(!) and funds.




Supervising works

Speaking of my damp problem, another noticeable facet of Truffle's character is her interest in supervising 'works' of any kind undertaken around the house, whether by me or designated tradespeople. Well, I say round the house, but she was also extensively involved in overseeing (quite literally!) the decluttering of the garage, a much-deferred task of Augean stables proportions to which I dedicated a whole post back in the summer. Which reminds me, I have yet to write that post about the perfume memorabilia I found in there!

But firstly, here we are, changing the toilet seat. "You read the instructions, while I sit on the packaging." Cat owners amongst you will recognise this as a variant of 'sitting on important things', in this case an important piece of toilet seat-shaped cardboard I appear to have thoughtlessly discarded on the floor.




And here she is, keeping a watchful eye on the joiner's toolbox. "You won't forget to tidy this lot away afterwards, will you?"



And as billed, below are a couple more shots from the big garage clear out / clean up, which afforded perfect crossover opportunities for 'supervision of works' and 'perching on high surfaces'. Yes, Truffle was quite happy to get 'up and dirty' herself - you can just about make out a cobweb slung between her ears in the first picture.





"Is this really the best spot for the Christmas tree?"



Lying in wait at a major traffic intersection

Another common form taken by Truffle's 'sitting about watching me' is what I can best describe as a kind of 'lying in wait', to see what my next move will be. It is not exactly that Truffle wants to be with me, for it wouldn't take much to find out where I was in the house. No, it's more that she wants to keep me in several lines of sight at once - and where I cannot fail to trip over her.





Sometimes Truffle's curiosity gets the better of her, and she edges that little bit closer to where I am, though still without technically joining me. In the photo below she is heading off my access from the bathroom, a pose which doubles up as 'sitting on important pyjamas'.




And in this one Truffle is ever so slightly in the office, but not quite tipping over into a category I featured last time of 'Keeping my owner in line'.




Her expression is more one of mild interest I would say, rather than disapproval. Though she does still give me some of those looks too!



'Signature folded paw' gesture

The above photo leads me nicely into Truffle's signature paw gesture, in which her right front paw (always this one), is tucked under itself, something I wouldn't have thought was actually all that comfortable.

In this shot, another 'lying in wait outside the bathroom' pose, minus my pyjamas, Truffle is clearly saying: "Hey, I'll be the judge of whether this is comfortable or not!"




Impeding domestic activities

The signature paw pose segues neatly into the category 'impeding domestic activities', chief amongst them being 'impeding bed changing'.




Getting in the way of the weekly duvet change - on either bed - is great sport to Truffle, as it is to Val the Cookie Queen's cat Meeps, and possibly all cats! Truffle likes nothing better than to hide in the snowy folds of the outgoing duvet cover, or sprawl on the freshly laid clean sheet, much like protestors sitting down on a road. Only whereas protestors usually have a cause to which they are trying to draw attention by their blockade, Truffle's determination to sit on bedding seems to be an end in itself.

"Gosh, these are quite deep as fitted sheets go."



This category is of course merely another manifestation of 'Disobedience', which I had in the previous post, but it is such an ongoing issue that I felt it warranted another comprehensive airing. And airing is the perfect introduction to this series of photos of Truffle 'hunting' the old washing line, right as I was in the middle of trying to take it down and replace it.




Here she is, pausing in her savaging of the line for a moment to channel Tommy Cooper.

And now it is back to the serious business of chewing the line, while managing to do a passable impression of a flautist.



And finally, even Truffle has had enough. "Go on, Mum, put the new one up if you want...this one's definitely dead."




No post on impeding domestic activities would be complete without a photo of wool worrying. Check out that glazed look of ecstasy!




This time round I also have a picture for you of Truffle 'chowing on down' on knitting needles. Brand new ones to boot, that had only just arrived in the post as you can see. Perhaps she thought they were chopsticks that needed a bit of 'running in'.



Then, as you won't be surprised to learn, office-related disruption continues unabated. Stationery items, ornaments and perfume vials go missing on a daily basis, only to turn up months later in a terrified huddle under the bookcase or other sturdy and immovable object.




As touched on in the previous post, Truffle has always liked to play with sources of heat - and light - from an early age.



I don't light an open fire in the front room very often, but on the rare occasions I do, pyrotechnician Truffle obviously has to be involved.




The final category of misdemeanour involves unprotected upholstered furniture - Truffle openly flaunts the 'no sitting on pale fabrics' rule in every room in the house where she spies a qualifying chair.



"Any chair you were foolish enough to cover in cream damask deserves everything it gets."



And in case I have given the impression that Truffle is more wilful and disobedient than otherwise, let me redress the balance by adding a picture that shows her still compliantly using her radiator bed, whilst also being suffused in light in a somewhat spectral Close Encounters kind of a way.




Staying with our 'suffused in light' theme, here is fellow blogger Sabine playing with Truffle during her visit on a sunny day last June.


So yes, Truffle is very much a cat who walks by herself, yet who likes to know where I am much of the time. "I've got my eye on you....."


Sunday, 5 November 2017

Bonkers about Perfume turned Eight (last Wednesday week!), a mini-review of Yves Rocher 8e Jour, and a traditionally rum giveaway

Bonkers-looking cake via Cake Central, Seattle
Well, yet another year has gone by, and in what is fast becoming time-honoured fashion I missed the exact date of my blog anniversary again, which was in fact 25th October. So it fell right between the post kicking off my 'Return to Sender' postcard series on 22nd, and the one on lipstick, on 29th. Speaking of which, it seems ironic that I featured all those photos of me wearing lippie only to be struck down this week with a recurrence of the facial eczema to which I am prone, this time on both lips and in the corners of my mouth. It does look rather as though I am trying to extend the lip line northwards on one side, or as if one of ex-Mr Bonkers' many sock monkeys has been let loose on me with a chubby stick. But it is starting to clear up now, thank goodness. The funny thing is that I do faithfully remember the birthday of my old English teacher, which falls in the same week. Every year for...um...forty years since leaving school (it would have been too Teacher's Pettish while being taught by her, obviously) I have sent her a birthday card, and every year she writes back and thanks me for it. But my blog anniversary seems to slip down the memory cracks much more readily for some reason.

Anyway, I would never have thought eight years ago that I would still be at it in 2017. I have just been testing a big bunch of fairly recent releases by DSH Perfumes, many of which I liked, and some of which I may well feature on here. So that little exercise showed me that while I am still firmly on the plateau in terms of my perfume j*****y, I am far from becalmed there. Hold on, do you even get water on plateaux? Somehow I doubt it, and water strikes me as rather a prerequisite for becalming. Oh yes, and the friendship of fellow fumeheads is as important to me now as it has ever been, and probably more so.

The bare stats behind the Bonkers archive - for anyone interested, and I would quite understand if you weren't! - are that I have single-handedly written 627 posts, had 1,707, 258 page views (at the time of writing, but clearly this is a moving feast!), and collected 150 followers along the way. I did have 151 for a good long while, but managed to lose one the other week, sorry, Follower 151! I try to console myself with the thought that 150 is a nice round number, but I can't help wondering where I went wrong to prompt that person to stop reading. Ah well, you can't please everyone, as my Mother used to say.



So yes, here comes the mini-review of the floral oriental Yves Rocher 8e Jour ('8th Day'), a highly pressurised metal canister of which came into my possession together with a load of other vintage scents that once belonged to a friend's mother-in-law, who has since died. I didn't interact with it for the longest time, as Yves Rocher isn't a brand I have historically got excited about, though I do know it has a number of perfumes in the line that punch above their price tag, and I have also tried a few and liked them. But because this one features the numeral '8' - '8e Année' perfumes being extremely scarce on the ground it would seem, though you can be sure I did look - I figured a few words about it might not be a bad way to mark this occasion. Now Samantha Scriven of I Scent You A Day is of course the Queen of Yves Rocher reviews, though I note that she hasn't featured 8e Jour, possibly because of its historicity. The perfume was launched in 1993 and discontinued at a point I have yet to ascertain.

Top notes: Iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang
Heart notes: Rose, honey, cinnamon
Base notes: Myrrh, vanilla, sandalwood


Close up of the highly pressurised nozzle!

Well, well, with the exception of cinnamon those are all amongst my favourite notes, and the overall impression I have of 8e Jour is of YSL Nu if you can bring that to mind - also discontinued I believe - crossed with Camay soap / the cold cream aspect, but NOT the smell of Dior New Look, and then made sweeter. With bonus echoes of Eau d'Italie's Baume du Doge and fainter ones of L'ELDO's Like This. It is powdery and markedly creamy like high end soap, and woody and floral and incensey and honeyed, all at the same time. Maybe a fraction too sweet for some tastes.

In the opening there's even a touch of Puredistance BLACK, which had a good slug of cinnamon in it as I recall. And there is also what ex-Mr Bonkers used to describe as a 'craft shop' vibe to 8e Jour, though only slightly. This was his way of expressing a spicy pot pourri-type aroma. To be fair, he described almost every perfume I wore in these terms or some variant thereof, such as 'craft shop at the bottom of the garden', 'craft shop with the window open', 'craft shop on fire' , 'craft shop SHOULD be on fire' etc, but in this particular case, were he here to sniff 8e Jour and pronounce it a bit craft shoppy, he might actually be onto something.

Oh I say, I just happened to glance at my very first post in 2009, where the craft shop concept according to ex-Mr Bonkers is explained!

To sum up, I do like 8e Jour quite a lot, notwithstanding the sweetness. And that is pretty much all you are going to get from me on the subject. In my defence, as long ago as 2015 I did moot the idea that I might write - or do I mean 'commit'?- a series of 'tiny unreviews of unprecedented vacuousness'. Hmm, I may have served one up for you right there. ;)

Which brings me to the annual (is it annual?) invariably underwhelming giveaway I host on here. Do you remember the elephant perfume bottle? It did find a loving forever home even so.

There is only one prize, but you have a choice...sorry, no actual rum is on offer, though if I had some I would be glad to give it away, being more of a gin person as you know.

1) The New Book of Perfumes, by John Oakes.

This is a sort of directory or mini encyclopaedia of 150 perfumes.



2) A set comprising firstly a copy of the Roja Dove(!!)* Haute Parfumerie Magazine.





This ultimate in 'coffee table magazines' is semi-informative, and does also boast some rather lush perfume bottle porn in it, as well as reproductions of vintage ads.

(* Did I hear someone say 'booby prize'?)




In this lot also comes the programme from the Harrods Perfume Exhibition, The Perfume Diairies, which is somewhat more informative and also features illustrations of vintage adverts. Here is a link to the first of my blog posts about the event (there was a lot to cover!), which was already seven years ago, I see.




I just remembered that it was at that exhibition that I first met Katie Puckrik, who popped in very briefly on her way to the theatre.




The giveaway is open to readers worldwide. Anyone in the UK may additionally have a sample of 8e Jour, if they would like one. Once again, I am so sorry I cannot post perfume further afield, for I have lots of that which I would otherwise put up as a prize. After my resounding reprimand from the Royal Mail, I am too nervous to attempt such a thing again, and it seems unfair somehow to have a lopsided draw that excludes readers everywhere else in the world from a more substantial perfume giveaway. Hence the rather mixed bag of non-liquid items!

The draw is open until midnight next Sunday, 12th. That is Remembrance Sunday, as it happens, so there is a fighting chance (no pun intended) that I will remember to draw the draw.

All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment (also stating if you would specifically like not to be entered, otherwise everyone will be considered in!). That's it. I know full well that the mere act of managing to leave a comment on a Blogger blog, given its technical vagaries, is a feat in itself! Then if anyone has an idea when 8e Jour was discontinued, I would be interested to nail that fact, and to hear whether anyone has ever owned it in a different format. I can't find any pictures in Google images of the metal canister I have, certainly. A comment about your favourite perfume with a numeral in it would also be fun to know. ;) Not necessarily a Chanel, even!

So there you go. It just remains to thank everyone who has been reading Bonkers at any point along the way. I would witter on into the void anyway, but it is knowing that people are in fact out there - which I learnt loud and clear in the wake of my recent post about commenting on blogs - that makes the whole venture so much more worthwhile!





Sunday, 29 October 2017

The almost reality of my £1 'lipstick wardrobe', and how a late onset light bulb layering moment led to less lurid looks

I often get asked what my favourite perfume is. Rarely does anyone pose a similar question about lipsticks, though that may just be because I am not known as a beauty blogger.  I have certainly written about my lipstick collection on here - the periodic culls, my separate quests for the perfect pink or red lipstick, my surprise at finding a cheapo dupe in Boots for a particular Burberry and so on, but lipstick is not my 'core business' as it would be for Get Lippie, say.

But like the average woman I seem to have accumulated a lot more lipsticks than I can regularly use. Happily they have more forgiving expiry dates than some categories of toiletries I might mention, not that that tends to stop me, hehe. And despite my periodic purges, the tally gradually creeps up again.

My browny/pinky/nude collection!

Left to right: Dior Pisanelle Pink**, Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4), Burberry Nude Rose, Bourjois Bruns o petits soins**, and Rimmel Not an Illusion. (And yes, my arm was a bit chilly!)

**NB To the best of my knowledge, both the Dior and the Bourjois are discontinued. Which also explains why I can't be bothered to give the Bourjois its circumflex over the 'o'.

As well as having too many lipsticks, I am guilty of having too many in the exact same shade, or at best in infinitesimal variations thereof. Like a homing pigeon or an iron filing to a magnet, every time I scan a make up fixture my eye is drawn to the identical narrow range in which most of my lipsticks lie - in my case, a sort of browny/pinky/nude. That said, I do have another small and burgeoning group of quite similar definite pinks, and a more heterogeneous assortment of reds, most of which I could never bring myself to wear, with the exception of a single lip gloss, now finished and discontinued, which is what prompted the second part of this post.

Revlon Firecracker lip gloss - many happy memories!

My £1 almost lipstick wardrobe 

But back to the first part: the almost reality of my £1 lipstick wardrobe and the notion of a favourite lipstick. My mother had a favourite lipstick...oh yes. Yardley's Pink String, which she wore for as long as I can remember. There is absolutely zero information in Google on that now, which is interesting. Mother used to stockpile that particular shade, and had several unopened tubes at the time of her death (see photo, though the colour is a bit darker and even more vibrant than it appears here).


Yardley Pink String


I made sure (indirectly(!) via the undertakers) that she wore Pink String to her funeral, for she would never go out without applying that finishing touch. In my own case, I think 'favourite lipstick' is perhaps a misnomer, but I certainly have a 'go-to lipstick' that I wear more than any other. I am not even sure if the lipstick in question suits me the best out of all the ones that I own in that category, which includes a high end Burberry that cost over twenty times as much. And I also can't speak to the colour pay off (not least because I have never known exactly what that is, though you see it mentioned in beauty blogs), or the staying power, or the feel of it on your lips. Even though I wear this one most days when I wear lipstick at all, I don't really notice such things. (Which may well be why I am not a beauty blogger!)


Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4) and my enormous fingers

All I can say in this lipstick's favour is that it is the one that more often than not seems to be lying on the dining room table, or at the bottom of my shopping bag, or at the top of my cosmetic bag - in short, it has eminent grabbability as its key attribute. And it tends to go with most things, or I am sure I would notice in the mirror that something was amiss. It's that old adage of 'the musician who played the last gig gets the next gig'. It is top of mind, and always at hand.

And it so happens that in my case, 'the last lipstick that got the gig' cost a mere pound from Poundland - who in a smart marketing move are the only high street retailer to still accept the old £1 coins! - which they are doing till the end of the month. UK readers, hie thee along to Poundland and bag - if not a lipstick - an ingot of Toblerone or a box of Maltesers at the very least. But if you have a yen at all for browny/pinky/nudes, it is No 4, the amusingly named Choca Mocha. A cheapo workhorse, no question. (For anyone interested, Part 1 of my overall review of Poundland's make up range may be found here.)

My late onset light bulb layering moment

And what of the light bulb layering moment alluded to above? Well, since my favourite lip gloss, Revlon Firecracker, got the chop, or self-combusted, or whatever happened to it, I was a bit at sea on the red lipstick front, being chronically wary of the whole category on account of my thin lips. Katie Puckrik and I went on a shopping mission five years ago that culminated in the purchase of a Laura Mercier lip balm in Crimson Tint, but left to my own devices at home, without Katie's chutzpah and moral support, it felt too bold on its own, and had languished in a drawer ever since. Until the end of September that is, when I was down in London for a design awards ceremony, as the 'plus one' of my friend M - the designer I worked for at the trade fair in Brussels - and on a whim, decided to try a slick of Crimson Tint over Choca Mocha, which gave the perfect muted red I craved. (The Laura Mercier is a deeper red than it appears in the photo!)


Laura Mercier Crimson Tint & Poundland Choca Mocha (No 4)

So Crimson Tint has finally come into its own, and please don't tell me it should have been thrown out by now, as it was too expensive to chuck and buy again!


Crimson Tint over Choca Mocha


On a roll, I experimented with another red I am too timorous to wear on its own - Spicy Cinnamon in the Clarins Joli Rouge range - topping it with a layer of Revlon Colorburst Lip Butter in Creme Brulee, another Katie steer.


Revlon Colorburst Creme Brulee & Clarins Joli Rouge Spicy Cinnammon


And as with the previous combo, this had a slightly glossy effect, as well as perfectly toning down the rich red of the Clarins to a more orange-y number that works better with my yellow-leaning complexion. So suddenly, out of the ashes as it were, I have found two options for a non-lurid red. I have scotched the scarlet woman! Not that I wore any of my failed red experiments out of the house, but I have scared the bejesus out of myself in all the mirrors indoors.

Clarins Joli Rouge Spicy Cinnamon - too strong a look on its own

And the more wearable combo...

Revlon Colorburst Creme Brulee layered on top of the Clarins

And the daft thing is that while I have always known about adding a bit of lip gloss to a lipstick - usually in a transparent or fairly sheer colour - I have never ever thought to layer lipsticks (or two lipstick-like entities shall I say, because they are called such a variety of things these days) with a more pronounced colour. We do it with perfumes - actually I don't personally layer scents as a rule, but it is a fairly established 'thing' - and of course artists mix paint colours in their palette, but I just hadn't twigged to the fact that I could do it with lipstick and solve my lurid lip conundrum.

So there you have it. I accept that the £1 wardrobe idea is stretching the point, because I do like a proper pink lipstick as well, even if I could maybe survive without one. But a red option is a must for evenings out and generally making more of a statement. And while I don't feel the Laura Mercier owes me anything after all this time, I think it cost about £14, taking my total wardrobe cost to...ooh er!...scary multiples of the original quid I dropped in Poundland.

Red lips at the awards ceremony!


So may I ask - do you have a favourite lipstick, or one that you keep coming back to because it is an easy wear?

Could you actually live with just one lipstick? And if so, would it be a neutral like mine or something bolder - perhaps red even?!