A bad scented candle can linger for weeks but this Irish-made one smells lovely

Marian Keyes and her Sudden Wild Enthusiasms: Anuyou candle

My superpower is an acute sense of smell. I can detect and identify all kinds of stuff and could do a Hercule Poirot/Sherlock Holmes deconstruction of a person's entire life simply by standing near them and taking a sniff.

“You’re having trouble sleeping, you poor thing. I’m picking up traces of diphenhydramine, the main ingredient in antihystamines, but the hayfever season hasn’t arrived yet, so insomnia, yes? Yes!

“You stood next to a young woman on the Luas who’d washed her hair in apple-flavoured shampoo and, not so long ago, you had a rush of shame about something because the acrid whiff of uric acid is leaking from your pores. Aha! You ate half a scone, right? No, I can’t actually smell the scone – there are crumbs on your shirt. But you’re feeling guilty because you’re supposed to be doing a high-protein thing. Well, the good news is that you’re still in ketosis because your breath reeks of nail varnish remover.”

And so on. As a superpower, having an acute sense of smell is one of the less impressive ones. In fact, it’s a downright impediment to a happy life because many smells are unpleasant. And strangely enough, some of the most unpleasant of all are the ones that are specially manufactured to be “nice”.


An assault

I never wear perfume, I can’t take it – even if it’s “fragrant” – it feels like an assault. If I’m hugged by someone wearing perfume, I can smell them for the rest of the day and frankly I resent being forced to go about my business in a cloud of Davidoff Cool Water or Katy Perry’s Meow! (Yes, that’s an actual perfume.)

I’m extra-choosy about the smells I admit to my house because a bad candle hangover can linger for weeks.

Which brings me to Anuyou, an Irish company set up by two old schoolfriends. Worried about all the chemicals in their nippers' bubble bath, they started home-making their own natural, effective soaps. They moved on to moisturisers, balms (their night balm is especially fabaliss) and now candles.

Said candles are made of soy wax and the wick is made from balsa wood. These things matter because paraffin wax is toxic. As are wicks that contain lead and other metals.

There are 12 different flavours, all made with essential oils. My favourite is White Witch, mostly because of the name. (But it also smells lovely – an unsweet, more-ish, attractively grown-up blend of camomile and sage.)