Sometimes pain, unhappiness, dullness, lasts a moment or a few hours. Other times depression has a hold on some of us for weeks or months, hanging over and entrapping us as does an opaque grey, endless sky of a painfully long winter. Despite the summer which has passed and of which hopefully a little yet remains, I know that on the inside I have been in a long, bleak winter. It’s not as if I’m unhappy all of the time: I smile and laugh every day, I find some inspiration, I’ve started to write a little again, and I believe my mind is open. But my melancholy is yet to be totally gone.
There was once a sweet, introverted, compellingly rainy scent that would be my partner for dull moods, dark loneliness, throbbing pain and absence of hope: April Violets, by Yardley. It was authentic for my soul, clean for my tears, sweet for my sorrows and comfort for my head. April Violets was all about the raininess of early springs that still had the residue of winter. It was all about the sweet, muted, dusky shade of childhood Parma violets; the blissful simplicity of cotton pillows and duvets, and the peaceful sound of the rain at night when you’re alone and can’t sleep. It was exactly the perfume for a delicate yet profound soul – one who can feel broken by the heavy darkness of pain, yet is capable of feeling overcome with joy at the sight of a new bloom in their garden. There was nothing quite so fitting for me as April Violets – an essence of authentic, nostalgic sweetness surrounded by a bearable, even beautiful, gloom. It gave my melancholy a loveliness.
Now Yardley, a brand I once believed would stay faithful to its classicness and its beautiful, unbeatable quality which I had come to appreciate at a young age, has had a hideous makeover that makes me want to shriek. At first I thought it was just their appearance that had changed. I didn’t particularly like this new appearance but I didn’t think about it too much; I assumed it was just rebranding and didn’t even wonder about the formula. But since I had finished my last bottle of April Violets (the old version) a couple of months back, I was going to get a new one anytime soon so when I was in Beales last week I decided to spray the tester, expecting to have a taste of that Parma violet I was so familiar with. At first I was disappointed and confused, not being able to smell much to the perfume on my sleeve at all. And when I sprayed twice more, this confusion was overtaken by a wave of horror. For this was not April Violets. This new, demonified version had been so watered down and chemicalized that it now bears no resemblance to the perfume I once loved. This is not a partner to my melancholy: it is a mockery of it.
There is a novel I associate with April Violets – Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte. It was quite a few years ago that I read it, but its impression remains on my heart and it’s one ofmy favourite novels. I read it when I was in another melancholic phase and when it was a particularly grey, windy, drizzly portion of autumn or winter. Its tale of intense, wild love in the backdrop of northerly winds and rugged, unobtainable landscapes, was so much like April Violets in the way it comforted me. The same writer has a poem which reminds me of my sadness at the finiteness of my beloved perfume. Some lines-
There is a spell in purple heath
Too wildly, sadly dear;
The violet has a fragrant breath,
But fragrance will not cheer…,
The bluebell cannot charm me now,
The heath has lost its bloom;
The violets in the glen below,
They yield no sweet perfume.