Tuesday 2 October 2018

Wolf? Thorn?

In my boyhood and youth, gentleman's fragrances were thin on the ground. Apart from the (rather nice) Imperial Leather aftershave my father used, one brand had the field pretty much to itself – Old Spice, which turned up without fail every Christmas (often, oddly, in the form of talcum powder). It had a distinctive, pungent aroma that harmonised all too well with the smell of male sweat – a smell that was very widespread in those days of once-or-twice-a-week bathing and no showers except after organised sports.
 The effective monopoly of Old Spice ended, at least for the youngsters, with the coming of Brut, that industrial-strength eye-stinger rumoured to be packed with male pheromones. I must confess I fell under the spell of this stuff for a while – I was young, m'lud, and knew no better; the Penhaligon years were far in the future...  Since those days of youthful folly, I have never taken so much as a sniff of Brut – I'd rather not dip that olfactory madeleine, who knows what forgotten horrors it might resurrect? But Brut, after long years out of fashion, does appear to be back – I see it everywhere, and flinch.
 Also back, and also everywhere now, is Old Spice. The other day, having run out of Tabac (the finest deodorant spray available to man, apart perhaps from the hard-to-find Caractere), I noticed a range of revived Old Spice products lined up in Boot's and thought I'd try one of the deodorant sprays (which, I must say, were startlingly cheap). So I went for one called Wolfthorn, looking forward to a blast of retro manliness. I mean – Wolfthorn! If ever a name smacked of the rugged outdoor life, of man at his manliest pitted against nature at its wildest, surely this was it. I bought one, took it home, lifted an arm and pressed...
 What emerged from this ultravirile spray container was a haze of something so intensely sweet and fruity it could have been rendered down from several tons of Opal Fruits. I had never smelt anything like it – yet it was weirdly evocative, not of anything to do with manhood or male fragrances but of the sweetshops of yore. It was like plunging your head into one of those big old-fashioned sweet jars that had lately been filled with all the most pungent items in the shop. Happily the initial blast soon wears off, and what lingers is not actually unpleasant. It's also surprisingly effective, over many hours. According to online comment from members of the Old Spice community, women tend to find the smell of Wolfthorn very agreeable. So maybe that's what it is – a man's deodorant for women, cleverly disguised as a deodorant that only the manliest of red-blooded males could handle. Well, I'll finish the canister I've got, but I don't think I'll be back for more.


  1. oh, I miss the old spice too, here in Brazil

  2. It certainly had something...

  3. I find it hard not to read Wolfthorn as Wolfetone, but perhaps I've read too much in Irish history.

  4. Dear Mr. Ness, a man of your presumed years does not need artifical scents. We never used 'em in the glades - skeered the 'gators.

  5. By which I mean it 'skeered 'em so we couldn't shoot 'em! Spoiled all the fun!