There are plenty of not-so-pleasant primary school smells (children’s toilets; sweaty classrooms; bare feet on gym mats...) but there are also some that are comforting and welcoming and full of nostalgia.
Poster paint is one of my favourites: it still smells exactly as I remember it when I was at school, and sometimes when I walk into a classroom full of children painting, I’m swept back to memories I didn’t know I had of standing at easels and dipping fat brushes into pots of colour. I also love the smell of unifix-cubes – little plastic cubes, for those not in the know, that fit together and are usually used as counting aids in maths lessons. They have a very specific plasticy smell, and though I don’t really remember using them myself, they must have been around because that smell is familiar enough to take me back to my primary school classrooms. I love the smell of fruit-time in the morning (especially if the children are having oranges) and the smells from the kitchen of freshly baked bread and simmering gravy. I love the smell of pencil sharpenings and play-dough and washing powder on a Monday morning when all the uniforms are clean and fresh.
It largely depends on my mood whether I’ll pick up on more of the good smells or the bad smells on a given day, but on the good days, there’s something glorious about the smell of a primary school.
Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)