Workshops: Why we won't be opening up our studio in the near future
The first part of this post is the scientific "we're doomed" bit and the second part is the "mustn't grumble", let's make the best of it and crack on with the new arrangements. Feel free to skip straight to part two.
It's all very well our leaders telling us that it's fine to go outside now as long as you stay alert. It's not. That's like telling us it's fine to go tightrope walking if you like, as long as you try not to fall off, when the people holding both ends of the tightrope can't be relied on not to let go.
I'm a fully fledged paid up nerd. I studied applied maths and statistics at A Level and I know what an R level is. I also know that it's only below 1 because lots of us stayed indoors for two months. As soon as we all go out, it's predicted to go back up to 5.7. Everyone I know who was shielding is staying shielded. (In my other life, we're probably going to be doing online yoga until at least 2022.)
It's still not safe, and the more people try to do things the way they used to, the less safe it gets; we need to consider that 4160Tuesdays will never go "back to normal" so we're looking at this constructively, and planning ways to go "sideways to different", or "forward to unusual". It's just not going to be back to normal because there is no normal and time can't go backwards.
The big picture is that this won't be the only pandemic, and probably not even the only coronovirus. The more the human race digs up rainforests and encounters animals we've not met before, the more likely we are to catch and spread previously unknown diseases. Unless we stop that, there's going to be another. That's not speculation; it's probability.
The practicalities are that our studio is small; we could in theory have four people in for a workshop while social distancing, except that this doesn't really work over time. If you're in the same room for four hours, it doesn't matter how far apart you sit. We couldn't serve you tea, you coudn't touch any shared spaces or objects, and we'd all have to wear face masks. You can't wear a face mask and smell a perfume. It's not possible.
If someone who had been there turned out to be carrying the Covid-19 virus, then we'd have to close the building for 14 days, keep everyone isolated, contact all the visitors and get them (and their families) to isolate for 14 days too.
Someone asked this week when we're going to reopen for events, saying they don't think there will be a second wave. It must be lovely to believe that, but there will be a second wave and we're not going to be part of spreading it it we can help it.
We've spent the last few weeks making films, bottling materials and rewriting our workbooks, so that all our perfume making customers can have their classes at home instead of our upstairs space at 42A Raynham Road.
If you've been to one of them you'll know that our workshops are interactive, chatty, enquiring and creative. You use our professional quality materials - the ones we use to make our own fragrances - and you find out exactly what's in what you make.
Unlike some perfume-making experiences, we don't restrict you to ready-made blends which will all combine easily to make a pleasant aroma. We set you free to have an adventure if that's what you want, and guide you towards making something beautiful and usual. We don't have a strict "three from the top, three from the middle, three from the bottom" structure because that's not what happens in real perfumery. I'm tempted to think that some of the Grasse perfume houses who developed this method did it to bury the secrets of perfumery even deeper under layers of obfuscation.
This means that getting ours together online has been much trickier than the highly structured versions, but I think we've cracked part one. It's a collection of 11 materials including citrus and woods with vanilla and neroli, as these are by far the popular materials used in our classes. Each kit contains enough to make three x 15 ml of fragrance, so it's good for a small group get-together. The second one up will have materials to make 6 x bottles of perfume, and plenty left over to practise your smelling skills.
First we're offering the kits to people who had already booked workshops, and next we're letting them out to people who were planning to book, but then had the rug pulled from under their feet.
We're also running Brick Walls & Flaming Hoops online, for people who are planning to set up their own perfume brand. I'm even taking to Zoom for that one.
I'm sorry to say that it doesn't look as if we'll see you in person for a while, but I hope you'll join in with one of these. We also have our Scenthusiasm online scent community on Patreon, of course, for people who want to learn about perfume all the time.
I hope you're all looking after yourselves. Waving you fragrant wishes from Hammersmith.
Sarah & Team Tuesdays
PS Our dad went to school in Barnard Castle in the Bowes Museum, because Middlesbrough High School was evaculated there during the war. All the same, I'm not planning to visit any time soon.