What is the difference between an aroma and a smell or a scent and a perfume? Is an aroma always about food or drink or can it apply to any kind of smell? And is smell always noxious and a scent or perfume always pleasant? Who knows? I want to talk about smells. I have a strong sense of smell. A boon sometimes, a curse at others. It is particularly acute first thing in the morning when I walk out. Out into the air. Yesterday morning there was a most marvellous smell of woodsmoke. So autumnal. It was so very evocative. Evocative of childhood walks on a Sunday afternoon in the park, wellies on pushing and dragging my feet through clumps of wet leaves, pushing through rain-soaked bracken, seeing deer in the distance in the later afternoon haze of mist and on-coming rain and looking forward to getting home to soup, warmth and the cosiness of candles and a fire. It was all there, in that smell. The smell of bonfires. Today I smelt the artificial rather musky smell of a cheap men’s deodorant. It was along South Marine Terrace. There was no one to be seen. He had gone but his smell had lingered. What must we smell like to dogs, to animals? It was so pungent. Unpleasant, and lingering. Then further along I caught a whiff of a woman’s scent. Again cheap smelling, too sweet and cloying. Had there been an assignation? Earlier, before I’d got out of bed, I’d smelt fried onions. Freshly fried onions. It must’ve been our neighbour below making himself an early breakfast. He does that sometimes or he makes a curry for later in the day. It stinks. It pervades my room, taking over. I went back to sleep a little cross. It had gone by the time I woke. I have to be more sanguine. I like having him there beneath me, us. He is a comfort. It is just the smells sometimes of his cooking, his cigarettes. A small thing. A slight inconvenience. I can bear it.

New regime today. First trial day. Brown rice fast, less standing preparing food and another hour in bed. All needed. He isn’t so sure about the fast and pulls a face. Our shop was cheaper. I will see. 10 days is the plan. It made me snappy this morning. Sorry. Work now. Before I have to go up to the studio. Quick, quick. x

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.