On that almost always disastrous day of Saint Valentine (which is apparently named after a couple of rather unromantic early Christian martyrs) I thought it would be fun to try a different sort of date. The kind where you take your boyfriend to a small makeshift cinema in Soho to see a film about sex and death and eating… Yes, Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover. It’s one of my favourite films, alongside Delicatessen, but it’s so overpowering that I find it really hard to watch.
This was a screening with a difference, put on by fantastic jelly men (perhaps the only jelly men) Bompas & Parr. It didn’t actually feature jelly, but was a feast for all the senses. It was also the UK’s first screening of a scratch ‘n’ sniff film. Not knowing quite what to expect we turned up to the Jotta Craft Fair, which is being held in a secret-looking sort of building on Foubert’s Place, just behind Oxford Street, from 14th to 28th February. It was a beautifully sunny day and guests were milling about with champagne flutes of a refreshing gin and dandelion drink. “It’s a Valentine’s colour,” said Sam Bompas, who was meeting and greeting in smart attire. I looked at it carefully and the lovely drink was distinctly brown. Maybe it could be a push to change Valentine’s traditional colour from the red blood of martyrs to something else. Personally I like yellow.
After being ushered in and taking our seats for the film, we were presented with the much awaited scratch ‘n’ sniff cards and at various points throughout the film were told to scratch ‘n’ sniff certain numbers. For those that haven’t seen The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover, it’s an incredibly intense experience. Even before you add smell this film really stimulates the senses with exotic costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier, operatic stage sets, claustrophobic lighting, ear-piercingly high choirboy singing and mouthwatering scenes of cooking and eating. The smells that went with it that day included rotting meat, dusty books, flowers and faeces! By the end I felt a bit over-stimulated and dazed.
During the interval, we were invited downstairs to share some edible delights: squishy aphrodisiac marshmallows, sherbert dip, popping candy and flavour trips (more on that at a later date…) Taking some of this stuff home in our pockets on the tube felt a bit illicit. Luckily the police sniffer dogs in Camden can tell the different between sweets and drugs.
I bought a real gold foil hotdog and made the mistake of smothering it in ketchup. So I still don’t know what gold tastes like. I have now eaten a tasty coconut cigarette though – are Rizlas good for digestion? We also stuffed ourselves with popcorn, taken from the popcorn machine pictured. All-in-all, a very fun day!