I cannot put diamonds on your neck,
but I can put roses on your table.
I think it was the anarchist Emma Goodman that said “I’d rather have roses on my table than have diamonds on my neck”.
Dorothy Parker thought differently,
A single flow'r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet
- One perfect rose.
I knew the language of the floweret;
'My fragile leaves,' it said, 'his heart enclose.'
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.
Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it's always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.
War ... and Peace? xx
Flowers are often the peacemakers but they have a strong link with war too.
If you are an eight year old attending the Findern primary school in Derbyshire it is likely that you know more than most about how war can fuel an explosion of flowers across the world. This is because your school emblem is the Findern flower, a variety of narcissus that Sir Geoffery de Fynderne brought back with him from the crusades. Sir Geoffery may well have gathered more exotic treasures too, such as spices, jewels, or even drugs, but today it is the humble narcissus that still survives and bobs its head by the village green. Over the course of many hundreds of years flower varieties, like the narcissus, have been captured as bounty from wars in far off lands. Including by Pharoh Thutmosis I, who was purloining irises from Syria long before Sir Geoffrey ever thought of venturing into the Holy Lands. Nowadays the narcissus’s sweet fragrance is synonymous with sharp spring mornings and frost-edged fields dotted with cotton wool lambs. But in the lingering richness that lies at the heart of its heady perfume we may still catch a whisper of half forgotten tales of Arabian Nights.
I Love You more than New Shoes
My best friend, Pip, once sent me a mug with this written on and it makes me smile everytime I reach for the kettle. When I wrote a book all about the warm, wonderful and, at times, weird messages people send with flowers I was reminded of her gift. (I was probably drinking coffee from her mug as I was pondering what I would photograph for the front cover!) And as I love Pip more than new shoes too, I filled a beaded vintage shoe with roses and photographed that amongst a pile of hatboxes. And I dedicated the book to her, as after all where would we be without our best friends?
Forty and still FAB-U-LOUS!
My friend Victoria who works as a fundraiser for a children's charity was struggling through a crowded train around Christmas time when she spotted Craig Revel Horwood sitting with his friend in First Class. She bumped past them loaded down with projectors, display boards and brochures and eventually found a seat further down the train.
Then came the dilemma. Her daughter Ella LOVES Strictly (quite right too). Should she struggle back down the train and disturb Craig, or leave him be?
What the hell!
Craig and his friend made her very welcome and insisted she sit down by them for a photo. And Ella is now the proud owner of a note that reads. 'To FAB-U-LOUS Ella, Love Craig Revel Horwood x 10/10 " Now not many people can say they got a 10 from Craig.
So very proud to be your mum
I am sending roses to my daughters as they are both starting their first 'grown up' job today. And you will have to forgive me now as I do some Proud Mum boasting! Alex is heading in to work as a researcher on a new wildlife series commissioned by the BBC called Predators. She rang me last night and was literally burbling with the thought of it. She will be working, and sharing an office, with Hugh Pearson who produced the BBC Africa programme. I don't think I have ever heard her so excited.
Libby has been spending the past months campaigning hard to get interns paid the minimum wage, and today she is starting work part-time as the Campaign and Policy Coordinator for the campaigning group, Intern Aware.
What makes me particularly proud is how they have gone about getting these jobs. Alex went to live in Bristol, not knowing a soul, and used her savings and shop work, as she weathered a deluge of rejections. Libby risked alienation from the journalism industry she so wants to work in by standing up and saying interns should be paid for the work they do. As she says 'who wants to employ the girl who complains?'
Now that makes me so very proud to be their mum.
Good Luck, Yorkshire Toffee Queen!
During the years I have spent photographing and writing books about flower shops I have created posies, bouquets - and in this case a jug of old-fashioned candy striped tulips - for just about every 'good luck' and 'congratulations' message you could think of. This virtual flower delivery goes to Ella Riley Sweets who think they may have just clinched a deal to send their fabulous toffee to the USA. (I hear Barack loves to eat toffee as he watches Homeland on a Saturday afternoon in The Oval Office).
One of my favourite 'good luck' flower deliveries was from a mum to her daughter when she was weighed down with the worry of studying for her exams. Mum would come into the shop, anxious and out of sorts, and order her daughter some flowers to help keep her going. One rainy Wednesday she burst into the shop, oblivious to the weather, and said, 'My daughter has just called me and she told me, 'Mum, you are now talking to Dr Green'.
I have a feeling her daughter will always remember the flowers her mum sent her when she finally passed her exams. (And in case you are wondering ... a posy of plump lemon roses with apple mint and lavender).
Hate work. Love you.
Oh the post Christmas blues. The rain, the over flowing recycling bin, the prospect of the diet that starts on Monday, the Quality Street you don't like, the pine needles in your tea and the job you, so, so wish you could give up.