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.

Flowers I like v. flowers that look good

I never really loved chrysanthemums, but they were all that Sainsbury’s had left when I went in there for some flowers the other day.  So I bought a bunch of white chrysanthemums and brought them home, where they look great.  It seems that the flowers I like for themselves are not the same flowers that look good in my egg.



I have some gerberas in a vase in front of my window. I don’t ever buy gerberas, but I was buying flowers for a boy who was staying in my house and they seemed appropriately manly. And you know what? I really, really like them. I might only ever buy gerberas from now on.

Are flower names capitalised? And why do I want the plural of gerbera to be “gerbera”?


Yesterday was National Walk to Work Day.  I didn’t manage to walk to work (I barely managed to get out of bed), but I did walk home, through some of the unloveliest parts of south London.  And yet.  There’s so much more you see when you’re at ground level – much more, even, than you see from the bus, which I have always thought of as a fairly intimate means of travel.  But I had never really noticed the war memorial at Stockwell, much less the lists of names engraved on it of Stockwell residents who died in the two world wars; including what looked like a whole family whose surname was “Burnley”, who I only noticed because Palace are playing Burney next weekend so the word jumped out at me.  But there’s a story behind every name, and they’re probably all worth hearing.

Anyway, including a brief stop at the war memorial, two even briefer stops to smell lilac growing in people’s front gardens (lilac coming second in my list of smells that make me think of childhood summers, the first being hyacinths) and ten minutes in MK One buying wedding outfit accessories (not my wedding, someone else’s), the whole thing took an hour and a half.  Which is…manageable.  I might even do it again.  But not today.


I’m not only going to talk about flowers here, but I bought some daffodils yesterday and they were all closed up, and this morning they had started to open, and it occured to me that daffodils are an underappreciated flower. You can buy a bunch of twenty for 99p, and they grow all over the place (there are some growing right next to the snowdrops on the unlovely patch of scrubland outside the Ritzy), and I think that’s why we take them for granted. A rose flaunts its beauty in an unabashed way, but there’s something very modest about the daffodil. And it’s no less beautiful for that.