I rescued some of Uncle's unused Wrights Coal Tar soap from his apartment and used it today. The smell straightaway takes me to Bristol. To Auntie Lottie's house in Air Balloon Road. Isn't that a wonderful name for a road?
Auntie Lottie was eventually rehoused in a high rise block of flats, which must have been one of the early ones. I'd never been in one before (and haven't been in that many since). From her flat you could see right across the Downs, to where Lily-over-the-downs lived. I never met Lily-over-the-downs but I heard a lot about her.
The other thing I remember about the flat is my cousin, Lynne, getting her finger trapped in the big swing doors, and me throwing a wobbly - I was and am a sensitive soul even when no blood is involved - and being told off for wanting attention - when attention was the last thing I ever wanted. Have I mentioned that I was painfully shy?
But back to the soap. The smell was slightly different from what I remember. Still distinctive but there was something about it. I wonder if it is no longer made with real coal tar. Which was a strange thing from which to make soap anyway. This calls for Google.
Coal tar soap was created in 1860 by Mr Wright using the liquid by-product from the distillation of coal. It was designed as an antiseptic soap for the treatment of skin diseases. In 2013 the EU banned the use of coal tar in non-prescription products and now tea tree oil is used as the disinfectant agent although the current manufacturers have tried to replicate the look and smell of the original. The soap is now called Wrights Traditional Soap.
Except by us old people.