Saturday, 9 May 2009
In which I am (almost) entirely frivolous
Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Sometimes even the most concerned citizen must take a day off and think of entirely superficial things. Today is one of those days. Today, I am thinking of body cream. Most specifically, I am thinking of the enchanting, luxurious, recondite and satisfyingly hard-to-find potion that is La Compagnie de Provence's Pommade Corporelle l'huile d'olive encense lavande.
One of the great myths about women is that we must be divided strictly into shallow and profound. Either we may worry about the internecine strife between Sunni and Shia, the rocky state of the body politic, and the collapse of the financial system as we know it, or we may think about shoes. Get back in your box now ladies, you can't have it both ways. You may understand every last ramification of the Middle East conflict, or you may have perfectly moisturised elbows.
This is possibly the biggest most steaming load of tosh in the known universe, and I have no idea why it endures, against all evidence to the contrary. It is one of the reasons that Sarah and I wrote Backwards in the first place. It is why we have chapters on politics and cooking, clothes and philosophy. Sarah, my cherished co-writer, is living one-woman proof of the madness of this reductive view of the female condition. She writes a beauty column, there is nothing she does not know about collagen. At the exact same time, she understands every last nuance and metaphor and piece of symbolism in The Divine Comedy. Dante is like mother's milk to her. She also knows how to bake the best cupcakes known to woman.
So it is true that I woke up this morning thinking about body cream. But I was also thinking about why it is that there are members of the United States House of Representatives who go on national television and equate intelligent design with evolution, as if they were two equally valid, scientifically honest theories, and are not challenged in this bizarre statement by the presenter. I was going to write a passionate child of the Enlightenment post about this very subject. Then I thought: it's Saturday, and I can't be serious every day, and it is important to keep your skin supple, in these Troubled Times. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise, as my friend Jeremy used to say, apropos of absolutely nothing.
The hunt for the perfect body cream has taken up a small but crucial part of my adult life. The good ones are oddly hard to find. They are too greasy or too thin, they smell like a courtesan's boudoir or depressingly of nothing at all, they are stupidly expensive or cheap and useless. I think, finally, I may have struck the holy grail. Ambassador, with this pommade corporelle, you are really spoiling us.
My enchanting and generous cousin G bought this delicious cream for me a while ago, in a chi chi little boutique in Bath. It has been sitting in my bathroom while I finished up other products; I kept gazing at it in anticipation, as if I were keeping it for best. Today was the time for best. And oh let me tell you of its wonders. It is the exact right constitency - thick and rich without being too unctuous. It glides onto the body and envelops you in soothing luxury. It smells of lavender with a sharp citrus tang; it smells, in some nebulous way, of the Riviera before it got ruined by high rise buildings and the New Russians. It comes in the most elegantly sturdy brown glass pot. I cannot recommend it too highly. If you want a frivolous treat to cheer you up in these recessionary days, it is the perfect extravagance.
On the other hand, if you are feeling too credit crunchy for words, and there is no lovely cousin to buy you treats, you can quite easily make your own concoction. It is not in the same league as this high class product, but it is a very worthy substitute. Here is what I do: go to Boots and get a nice big tub of emollient cream, the kind that has absolutely no scent at all and costs about two pounds. Choose whichever consistency you like; I prefer a good thick one. Take it home and decant a little into a nice glass pot. Add a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil, the more fragrant and fruity the better. You might like to put this in a little at a time, until you reach the exact consistency you are looking for. Then put in a few drops of whichever essential oils you prefer. I favour a combination of rosemary, lavender and bergamot. Stir it all up, and there you are. Then you can go back to wondering whether the government of Pakistan is going to fall.
The Pommade is only available online at Harrods, in a slightly irritating way.
Otherwise, if you live in the west country, you can find it at the delightful Mee boutique in Bath.