Amol Rajan: Grand gestures can elevate us and our situations

FreeView from the editors at i

Share
Related Topics

Almost certainly the most romantic gesture in the history of mankind, civilisation, planet Earth and the cosmos took place earlier this month.

A man called Jack – surname and age unknown – from Boston, Massachusetts proposed to his girlfriend Teresa Elsey by organising a vast operation in which dozens of apparent strangers presented her with flowers on an after-work stroll to the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA).

The lavish procedure was brilliantly recorded by several cameras, so that the video, which you can find online, includes a running commentary from a central controller who is in radio contact with his assorted operatives on the ground.

The first stranger to offer a flower is politely turned down. But when a second, then a third, and then many more flowers are offered, Teresa Elsey begins to think something is going on.

Soon she can't hold all the flowers and Jack has to help. She's beaming with joy, suspecting something is up; and then, when they get to the decked area in front of the ICA, it all speeds up.

The single offerings turn into a swarm of people and Jack suddenly disappears. Teresa Elsey can tell this is planned and orchestrated, but is still unsure what one earth is going on. Jack returns – in a Velcro-assisted tuxedo! He leads her to a bench, falls to one knee and, after receiving her agreement the couple kiss in front of a jubilant crowd.

Then they make off for a private dinner, but not before Jack's two brothers – also sporting tuxedos – turn up to give him a high-five.

"Romance is the invention of the bourgeoisie", read a poster on my mate Will's wall some years ago. I'd like at this point to say "in which case, please count me in".

But I can't, because it isn't. Our capacity for romance unites the genders and generations, as well as every country and culture.

Last week, exalting in Mo Farah's Olympic glory and Nasa's Curiosity mission to Mars, I said that both show humanity at its best, largely because they celebrate mankind's love of exploration.

But Jack from Boston shows the best of humanity too, because he celebrates our love of love.

Incidentally, I got engaged this time last week. To the love of my life, under a cloudless sky, on the banks of a river in the city where my dreams first came true.

Like Teresa Elsey, Charlie said: "Of course", not just "Yes", when I was on one knee; and with that, she gave an eternal echo to the happiest day of my life.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Ashdown Group: Automated Tester / Test Analyst - .Net / SQL - Cheshire

£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping have a drink after agreeing a deal on carbon emissions  

Beijing must face down the perils of being big and powerful – or boom may turn to bust

Peter Popham
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook  

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Simon Kelner
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot