About this Blog

Four Wise Monkeys is designed to unite my desire to develop as a writer with my urge to blog. It is based around the proverbial Three Wise Monkeys, with the focus being on the human senses rather than moral principles. Each post will relate to a sense represented by a monkey: "See no evil, Hear no evil, Taste no evil, Smell no evil." My hope is that blogging in this way will encourage me to think of blogging as a kind of writing exercise rather than something to distract me from my writing.


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Four Wise Monkeys pebbles by Aimee Daniells.

Entries in Smell No Evil (32)

Saturday
Jun212014

Wood

I can’t think of a type of wood that I don’t enjoy the smell of, but in this case, I’m thinking specifically of oak. I was in the houses of parliament with a group of children the other day, surrounded by dark oak panelling as we listened to our tour-guide. I haven’t the faintest idea what he was saying at that moment; I was too caught up with breathing in the deep, rich smells of wood and polish. The smell of oak is dense and solid, a grounding scent that reaches through you, almost oppressive in its power.

Oak panelling – and specifically its smell – reminds me very much of the kind of pub my granddad used to favour: cosy places full of oak, with open fires and real ales. When I was little, we’d go for a lot of pub meals: ploughman’s lunches or giant Yorkshire puddings filled with roast beef. Somehow, the smell of roast beef has woven its way into the smell of varnished oak in my mind, and smelling the latter evokes a strong memory of the former. I may be standing in the House of Lords, but really I’m far away, tucked around an oak table in a country pub in some distant corner of my memory. 

Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)

Sunday
May182014

Roses

Turkish delight; the summer school-walks of my childhood; gardens bathed in sunlight; fancy desserts; perfume… the smell of roses delivers a tumble of memory, none of it linear, none of it complete; all of it delicious. This morning I ate the most beautiful porridge my favourite breakfast bowl has ever seen, topped with pistachios and dried rose petals; the smell of roses drenched me in memory, and for a moment I was lost to the present. Such is the gift the smell of roses delivers.

Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)

Saturday
May102014

New Puppy

When I was about 12 years old, my family adopted a puppy. He was tiny and black and possibly the most excitable animal the world has ever seen. The other day, I met a puppy a lot like him. A different breed of dog, but also jet black with sleek, soft fur and a tail that seemed to have a mind of its own, and I was taken back to the day we took Shadow home, and to a weirdly specific memory that I’d forgotten.

He was eight weeks old, I think, when he came to live with us, and I remember sitting on the back seat of the car with him, trying to stop him squirming or leaping over the front seat to my mum, who was driving. What I remember the most is his smell: almost not animal, clean and new, more like a soft toy or a piece of carpet than a dog. It’s hard to describe it now; I actually wonder if I imagined it, it makes so little sense. I remember it very clearly though, and meeting the puppy the other day brought the smell straight back to me, along with a 12-year-old’s excitement about bringing home a puppy.

Memory is a strange place.

Monkey by Clive Wesley Dennis 

Sunday
May042014

After the Rain

After a heavy rainfall, the city remembers to breathe. In the air is the smell of trees and grass, the cloying weight of traffic fumes and concrete lifted, diluted for a short while. I like this moment a lot. I remember that I’m in a place that is part of the world, a place that is more than roads and buildings and people, a place that is part of the natural world, no matter how detached it has become. A fresh rainfall brings the smell of earth up through the tarmac and the leaves drip their scent onto footpaths and flower beds. The city is humbled for a short while, hanging its head as it admits to something greater than itself, acknowledging the fresh smells the rain brings. This is a treasure I relish.

Monkey by Kieran Hazell (www.ownbeat.co.uk)

Saturday
Apr262014

Cloves

The scent of cloves brings with it an avalanche of memory. The smell of the warm, faintly-peppery, faintly-sweet spice takes me instantly to the kitchens of my childhood. My grandma used to make the best apple pie in the world, and in our family, apple pie always involves whole cloves. The first place I go to in my memory is her kitchen, the oven hot and the delicious smells of apples, pastry and cloves lacing the air. The second place I go to is the dining table of my childhood, steaming bowls of apple pie and custard in front of us, my brother and me collecting cloves into little piles ready to suck the custard from and count at the end. The one with the most cloves was the winner. We both loved apple pie, but the clove competition was an important part of the meal, and we both looked forward to it as much as to the eating. Whichever parent was baking the pie would always be generous with the cloves. When I smell them now, that warming spiciness takes me back to the cosy Sunday nights of my childhood, to homemade apple pie and family ritual. That’s quite a lot to be contained in a jar of cloves…

Monkey by Clive Wesley Dennis