Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Whatever happened to my Fabergé Brut 33?

Dedicated to Lou-Lou on her 50th. Love Ya Lots...

Whatever happened to my Fabergé Brut 33?

As a Rhodesian teen, I never really needed a deodorant. Come to think of it - I don’t really need one now. That’s because I am lucky enough not to ‘pong’ if I raise a little sweat. For example -  opening a can of beer or turning the boerwors over on a Barbie. (Er, Barbie as in Braai, as in BBQ ;  not the little plastic doll.)

But, around about the age of 16-17 year olds at Mount Pleasant High School, Salisbury, mid ‘70s , the type of deo worn became an example of class distinction among the males competing for the available sexual counterparts. All this because of Fabergé Brut 33.

As Rhodesians get old and senile, they desire some form of contact to those ‘good old days’, (the word’ good’ being rather ambiguously used). So here is a story.


Rhodesia had its own home-grown anti-stinky stuff. I think it was called Shield. The cheapest way was in a small bottle with a ball on top and you glued your armpit hair with it and they all turned white and stiff. Like a Mohican punk doing a hand stand. In fact, you could glue anything with the stuff. Generally, poor whites used the stuff. The alpha-males usually had Daddies with lots of readies, so the Rhodie jocks could coat themselves in Fabergé Brut 33.

The problem was that the stuff was imported and, due to sanctions, luxuries like this was like finding gold fillings in your inherited grandmother’s false teeth. When ‘posh’ Barbours (the Rhodesian equivalent of Harrods - less the Arabs), had a delivery, the word would quickly go around. Within minutes, mothers became rabid jackals, desperate to obtain the smellies; so desired by their hunky, rugby playing alpha-male off-spring. I was supposed to use my pocket money on such luxuries. My pocket money barely covered a white mouse from Leslies Pet Shop once a month (about the speed the cat found it in my bedroom clothes drawer. (Conversion rate for the time – One white mouse = five Coca-Colas (less deposit) a week.)

I remember when the gorgeous Cindi Tate, once leaned against me whilst we sat on the school desks backwards, swinging our legs so cool because Miss Simpson wasn’t there, and I filled her in on the latest gossip about her rival Gail Shaw, and touching my shoulder, ever so softly with her exquisite nose, she sniffed delicately, and said

‘Are you wearing Brut? I love Brut.’

(To imagine the passion of this statement, think - Like she sees your car key fob, and goes ‘Ooh you drive a Porsche!’  (Not quite, I don’t remember any Porsches in Rhodesia- just the usual porch, so a Datsun 120Y was good enough.)
I was mortified! The only thing I was wearing that she could smell was my khaki school shirt - most probably washed with Lever brothers Cold Power! (my Mum liked to save on electricity. Rich people used Surf).  The reason she smelt Brut was simply because that orange haired, six foot two, orang-u-tang, ‘OX’ Bruce Barrett, had passed us by with enough Brut back draft to open his own factory. (We zero-males, opposite to alpha-males on the Darwinian hypothesis, concluded his tag - ‘OX’  - was due to his brain capacity - rather than his physical features that averaged in body mass to two of us.)

At that point I made it my life work to have a tin of Brut. Luckily for me a sort of on/ off girl friend presented me with a tin for a birthday. I didn’t think of it as a hint, but as a sign of testosterone fuelled desire. The fact she got her mother to buy them in a six pack to distribute amongst all her beaus was unbeknown to me at the time.
I cherished that can. It was used so sparingly (only for parties) that the can would have rusted if I lived at sea level. I think I even kept the empty can on prominent display in my bedroom. Anyway, as you can imagine, as soon as I received my first pay check, I bought Brut 33.

Aah - envision it, there was me, doused with the stuff, pulling every bird in the bush, as I stumbled along on anti-terrorist patrols. I could be shot to pieces in moments, spotted by my aroma. I would have died a Rhodie macho man!

So, for a few years I wore Fabergé Brut 33. I could purchase it in Germany, but then at sometime I grew out of my teenage obsession and purchased smellies more in line with my supposed income. Fancy bottles and fashionable names cost fancy prices.

And then I was poor and old. Sob! And then you get that melancholy malingering of memories and purchase a bottle of Brut and squirt it up your nostrils in divine ecstasy, remembering how you inexplicably snogged the prettiest girl at the party and put it down to Fabergé Brut 33. If you got a feel of her breasts, you swore to buy shares in the company!

Well…I have been using Brut for a couple of years now, but as I am slow in the head, it has taken a while to realise that the Brut I was buying wasn’t the same as the Fabergé Brut 33, I remembered.

I think that when I bought a tin the other day for £1.67 -  I first got suspicious. I sort of recall that ‘back then’ a tin of Fabergé Brut 33, deo set you back a day’s pay. White man’s pay at that!

So…I had a good sniff of my armpits after a good dose of the stuff. Yup, something was wrong. Very wrong. I looked in the mirror and saw an old, grey haired man sniffing his armpits to see if he had it still to pull birds at parties using his last weapon - Fabergé Brut 33.

How sad is that? Anyway… The great smell of Brut wasn’t all there. So, I then found my spectacles, and tried to read the small print through the fogged glass. (I had just finished having a bath with the window closed.) I couldn’t read a thing about its true identity besides being most probably the best thing in the world. After I opened the door to allow much needed humidity into my Welsh water soaked apartment, I gathered that the green can I had tried to read was actually a can of Carlsberg beer. As you can see from the pictures, they are hard to differentiate under abnormal conditions! It took a few moments to correct my visibility and it is true!  Fabergé Brut 33, is now just some diluted dilution flogged as poor mans smellies. No Fabergé logo, no number…it has lost the connection with us Rhodesians.

I am bitterly disappointed, but I still use the cheap crap!

Interesting links –

Here is the irony because…wait for it…33 denoted the fact that it was Faberge’s el cheepo range! Yup, the 33 meant that it only had 33% of the real McCoy.

Check this out