I can perceive intellectually that lilies are attractive; I just can’t bring myself to believe it in my heart. The problem is one of association. Just as meeting a lovely Nigel can convince you that it’s a nice name when it plainly isn’t, lilies’ ability to give me an instantaneous, powerful and lasting headache prevents me from appreciating their aesthetic charms.

That this is a minority opinion is borne out by the two – two! – women who separately got on to my train this evening carrying large bunches of lilies. The first landed at the other end of the carriage, but the second came and sat next to me. The journey only takes ten minutes,  but I knew that was long enough, so I got up and perched myself close to the door, breathing fresh air for as long as I possibly could before it slid shut.

I felt a bit bad for the woman. I wanted to explain, but my bad feeling for the woman was trumped by my wish not to have people thinking I was a madwoman on a crowded commuter train.

Fortunately, as I was leaving the train I caught a potent whiff of essence of male armpit, which put all thoughts of lilies – which put, in fact, all thoughts – immediately out of my mind.

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