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 (27)

Sunday
Apr202014

Mint Tea

Regular monkey readers will know that I get obsessed with particular tastes for a while before moving onto something else; currently it’s fresh mint tea. I drink mint tea quite often, but usually I use teabags for their convenience, and mostly if you ask for a mint tea in a café round here, you’ll be given a teabag. The surprise of a fresh mint tea when you were expecting a teabag is deeply gratifying; they tick the same boxes but they’re two entirely different experiences.

There’s a subtle sweetness you get with fresh mint tea that isn’t preserved when the leaves are dried, and – weirdly – a shadow of something ever-so-slightly salty. This is a drink that tickles both taste and smell in equal measures; one of those flavours where it’s difficult to separate the two. It’s the smell, I think, that gives you the ‘this is definitely mint’ feeling, but the taste that brings out all the strands of mintiness, separates it from all the mint flavoured things that have nothing much to do with real live mint. What I particularly enjoy about fresh mint tea is the combination of both senses somewhere at the back of your throat, the sweetness of the taste and the freshness of the smell colliding and bringing together the flavour. It’s hard to imagine the flavour of mint with either smell or taste missing. So entwined are these two senses, that this is probably true for most things, but with fresh mint tea, it’s particularly evident. So many monkeys in one sitting!

And on that note, I’m going to boil the kettle…

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

Sunday
Mar302014

Talking to Monkeys

I’ve been having trouble finding monkeys recently, which has served to illustrate their significance. There’s no devastating trauma going on here, but we’re having a bit of a tough time, and handling ordinary life is taking more energy than it normally does. Desperately searching for a monkey this week, for a small thing that gives me great sensory pleasure, made me realise not only how important monkeys are for general happiness, but that how accessible they are to me has a direct correlation to how settled I am in life. Monkeys are important for taking stock, for being able to pause and appreciate something good in the world, no matter how difficult things are. Monkeys are the blossom on the trees; the warmth of spring sunshine on your back; the smell of fresh ginger on your fingers or onion in a pan; the sound of birds in the morning; the hiss and crackle of grilling bacon… As I list them now, I remember them, and I set off towards a new week, determined to spot all the monkeys, and take the time to say hello as I rush past.

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

Saturday
Feb222014

Shower Therapy

I more-or-less hypnotised myself in the shower yesterday. I always enjoy showers, but there are days when they provide just the right kind of sensory stimulus to lull me into a trance. Yesterday was one of those days. I was quite stressed out and the steady spritz of water was calming, like a slowed-down aural version of TV-screen static. The steam billowed around me as I lost all sense of time, savouring the feeling of warmth on my skin and the slightly metallic notes in the smell of hot water. Washing long forgotten, I stood beneath the jet and tasted the kiss of water on my lips and relished those occasional rivers of water that happen when you stand on the right angle.

Mostly, my shower-trances happen simply when I have time to enjoy them; I’m – thankfully – not prone to stress. But in moments like that, moments when everything’s all a bit much and a bit fast and a bit hard, a shower is the perfect therapy, a simple and calming focus for all the senses to cling to. 

Monkey by Tony Pickering (@mrpickers)

Monday
Feb172014

Dishwasher

The dishwasher remembers what we feed it. This isn't always a good thing. Sour milk bottles and raw fish, for example, are hardly the most pleasant of scents. But when the dishwasher remembers a particularly delicious stir fry or the traces of fragrant rice, loading it can be an almost joyous task. When it whispers back memories of ginger, garlic, chilli, spices, I'm transported back to last night's dinner, to a cosy evening at home, warmed and nourished by something simple and tasty. A good weekday supper is a simple pleasure the first time round; it's extra-satisfying to eek it out further and appreciate it the next day. The monkeys are all about the little things...

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

 

Wednesday
Dec182013

Christmas

Christmas is laden with monkeys. One of the many reasons I love it so much is that it indulges all the senses. It begins with treats for the eyes: the twinkling lights; the warm colours; the shining reds and greens and golds. The nose is filled with tangerines, cinnamon and spiced fruit; with mulling wine, roasting meat and chestnuts. There’s the sound of bells and Christmas music and ice cubes dropping into glasses, and the taste buds are spoilt with sweet treats and rich, meaty goodness. Christmas is a cascade of memory for me, mostly because the way my memory works is sense-based. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a generally appalling memory, but specific snapshots, unlocked by sensory stimulation can be very vivid for me. Christmas is full of sensory stimulation, so it is as though a part of me wakes up. Of course, this is tinged with sadness, for people long gone and places that are locked away in the past. But I’m as grateful for it as I am for a wonderful dream: it is a place that I can always revisit, and that visits me with every Christmas; with every whiff of freshly baked mince pies and every sparkling light.

Monkeys by Tony Pickering (@mrpickers)