When in doubt, perfume!

As an antidote to the blues of summer ending, I’ve started bingeing on comedy again. One thing led to another and I recently started watching the ’70s British sitcom Rising Damp, which takes place mostly in a dingy house presumably in Leeds, Yorkshire. I’m quite sure that if I’d come across it when I was younger, I would not have liked it at all (too obnoxious), but now I find it hilarious. It would never fly in today’s world, mind you, as it’s too politically incorrect, even in obvious irony.

In most story lines, the self-centered, ignorant main character Rigsby, who possesses not an ounce of emotional intelligence, gets his comeuppance by the end. One of his hapless attempts at winning the affection of one of his tenants, the 30-ish and single Miss Jones, was more amusing than usual for this perfumista.

For Miss Jones’ birthday, he is taking her out to dinner (along with 2 other tenants, who are students.) As she is getting ready, he comes to her room and hands her a gift box.

MR RIGSBY: I hope you don’t mind—I’ve brought you a little present.

MISS JONES: Oh, Mr Rigsby, you shouldn’t have!

MR RIGSBY: Just a small token of my esteem.

MISS JONES: Oh, thank you! What is it?

MR RIGSBY: Perfume. (His lips start to twitch in excitement.)

MISS JONES: Oh, how lovely!

MR RIGSBY: It’s called “Ritual in the Dark.” [laughter]

MISS JONES: I don’t think I know that one.

MR RIGSBY: No, no, you wouldn’t—it’s very exclusive. It’s for the woman who has everything. Well, almost everything. [laughter] I thought of you instantly. It’s a blend of the scent of limes with the subtle aroma of sandalwood and tangerine. [mild laughter] Combined, of course, with various aromatic oils known only to the eunuchs. [strong laughter] I believe it’s guaranteed to send the senses reeling.

MISS JONES: It’s very kind of you, Mr Rigsby.

MR RIGSBY: It also contains an atomizer spray, dusting powder, moisturizing body lotion, and perfumed bubble beads. (All stated while looking directly at Miss Jones’ face and not the box!)

We don’t get treated to a good look at the bottle, except to see that it’s oval in shape and has a pink cap. The cap is most likely plastic, certainly not giving an exclusive feel.

Screenshot from episode Night Out

Not only is it very out of character for Rigsby to be so well versed in the details of the perfume—it is implied in other scenes that he neglects his personal hygiene—it then seems counterintuitive that he would choose a bright, citrus-forward fragrance for a woman he’s trying to seduce. Most probably he chose it based on the name in hopes of later developments. In any case, I’m glad the writer threw in a bone for us perfume lovers!

Screenshot from episode Night Out

After Miss Jones sprays some on at Rigsby’s encouragement, Rigsby leans in for a sniff and declares, “Oh! My word, it is intoxicating. My head’s really reeling already!”

What real-life perfumes do you think this fictitious one might resemble?

3 thoughts on “When in doubt, perfume!

  1. Can’t think of any perfumes I know from that time. Though, most likely, it was something Avon-type.
    I always pause videos to try and see what people have on dressing tables, which perfumes they use, etc. For a while I was following https://borntobeunicorn.com/ , but since I don’t watch enough movies, most of the references didn’t interest me much.

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    1. I just tried the “Search by notes” feature on Fragrantica for the first time, and only a dozen fragrances for women showed up that included lime, tangerine, and sandalwood. Most of them debuted after 2000. Only one, Gi Gi by May Fair Le Caire, was launched in the 1970s. It’s a floral green fragrance that looks like it has the kitchen sink of ingredients for top, heart, and base notes!

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