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  • Smells are weird, the way they take you back to a moment, like madeleines.

    When I was at university I shared a single bed with my boyfriend for three years. (Ah, youth. I couldn't do that now.) I was usually against the wall, and a heating pipe ran along the wall below the mattress level.

    One morning I woke up with a smell in my nostrils, and found I was back in the Spa Theatre in Whitby where I was anxiously waiting in the changing room to go on as one of the mice in The Nutcracker. I was five, and it was our ballet class's Christmas show. I was decked out in a tutu, ears, and a tail, and shivering with anticipation. I'm certain I never registered the smell at the time.

    I had even forgotten (though my parents tell the tale - forgive the pun) that one of my friends lost her tail on stage. After we had trooped off, there it lay... until a voice (me) was heard: "Come on, let's go and get it." And two little mice came back hand in hand, to a roar of applause. Apparently we were the least dull part of the show.

    Then I was lying in bed and could feel my five year old self shivering in my tutu, in spite of the dusty, hot pipe.

    Now, if I smell that smell, it reminds me of two things: being five and being nineteen.

    But my favourite smell is the smell of the back of my daughter's neck. Even now, even though she's twenty-five, whenever I see her again I still have to lift the heavy, silky curls from her neck and have a good sniff.
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