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)