Review: The smell of bubblegum

I was going to start this post with the sentence, "The world can be an exceptionally depressing place", as if I were comparing it to some other, less depressing place - the surface of the sun, perhaps, or the afterlife. The point is I stayed up till 5am last night reading a book called Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, about clones forced to donate their vital organs one by one. If you could sum this book up in a sentence, it would be: "What's the point of it all, when we're all going to die anyway?" When you think of how there are books by people like Dr Seuss and Jilly Cooper that can be summed up in really life-affirming sentences like "Food can taste nice whatever its colour" and "Look, here are some rich people having sex", it makes you wonder why you bother with proper literature at all.

I was in the shower several weeks ago (in Stockholm, which is a long story, a long story involving me living in Stockholm), lathering up a gloopy handful of bright green shower gel, and I realised I'd got it all wrong. All of it! The greatest cultural achievement of recent years isn't a book, or a film, or an album, but artificial bubblegum scent. It's the smell of happiness. The smell of innocence. The natural world has nothing on it. It's like Proust's little cakes crossed with that time in the garage forecourt on a long hot summer car journey with your cousins, when someone bought a pack of apple flavour Hubba Bubba and you blew a perfect bubble for the first time in your life.

I was really pleased with myself for making this discovery, until about two days later when my boyfriend told me that he hated the bubblegum shower gel and it was the least sexy flavour of shower gel ever. I was crestfallen. A few days after that, we had a huge fight and he made me move out for a while to give him some space. (Space?! Space???!!) I'm not sure the two phenomena are necessarily linked, but it's important not to rule anything out in this life (as opposed to all those other lives you'll have, in the afterlife or on the surface of the sun).

The smell of bubblegum: Loses points for lack of eroticism, but otherwise perfect. 8 out of 10