Susie Rushton: For me, every day is bloomsday

Share
Related Topics

There is a photograph of me aged six, posing as if for a Kodachrome ad, in a field of sunflowers. I don't know if that picture records the precise moment my passion began, but I look pretty happy to be standing in a crowd of giant, gaudy yellow flowers. Three decades later, I still can't suppress the joy when pressing my face into a pillowy rose or hedgehog-shaped chrysanthemum. One of my most pleasurable afternoons as a journalist was spent witnessing the petal-harvest at Chanel's private jasmine fields in Grasse in Provence, the tiny white buds fogging the warm air with perfume. I am a flower addict. And at this time of year, I shop for them in the same way other people shop for shoes.

Cut flowers are one of life's greatest indulgences, as Elton John knows only too well – he once admitted to spending £293,000 on bunches in a single year. Flowers lift the heart for two or three days, then wilt and depress it, producing a morose atmosphere in the home that can only be improved by – another bunch. Sometimes I feel guilty about the air miles. In my defence, I don't have a garden or even a terrace so I can't grow my own, and these moments of pure contemplation, of sensory pleasure as the perfume unwinds my memory – I swear they're worth the expense. And it is some expense.

The value of the UK cut-flower industry is worth a colossal £2bn, and the majority are sold through supermarkets. Waitrose has just announced their cellophane bunches will now be packaged with a scratch-and-sniff label to give customers a preview of the scent – supermarket flowers are now usually sold furled and tightly unripe. I'm lucky enough to have a local flower shop, and I am mostly loyal to it, despite the icy demeanour of the florist, a man with round glasses and a bush of wild, curly hair, who smokes roll-up cigarettes inside the shop, overwhelming the scent of his lilies and freesias. Unlike the stems sold in supermarkets, his blooms aren't offered in pre-packaged bunches at £3.99 a go, they brim out of buckets unmarked with a price, forcing the customer to guess the cost. No matter what I buy, or how small I ask the bunch to be, I always end up handing over a £10 note.

In May and June, though, one can steal flowers in Britain. Not from a shop, but just with your nose and eyes, there being so much on display for free. Forget next week's Chelsea Flower Show. Its horticulturalist crowds and enforced amazement doesn't appeal to me. Other people's front gardens, though, are suddenly captivating. Sunday afternoon was spent gazing at the lilacs dripping from the front of so many houses around where I live, so wet and super-scented after the rain.

Is there anything else in nature so loaded with pleasure for the senses? A vase of flowers might mean mere decoration to some, or even be barely noticeable (I don't think my boyfriend sees the vases around our home). Not me. I can understand why botanists at Kew Gardens were this week so thrilled to have revived the smallest flower in the world, the thermal waterlily, from the brink of extinction; I know why Elton blew all that cash at the florist ("Yes, I like flowers," he said then); I was touched that my downstairs neighbour thought that a meaningful apology for her noisy 3am party on Saturday night would be a gleaming bunch of dark pink tulips, left by my door last night with a note. There's always room for another bunch.

Roger and his friends were made for poetry

I remember when I "got" poetry for the first time. I was already a year into an A-level English course when I realised that twiddly stylings and overblown metaphor were ultimately in service to something more fundamental: rhythm. So I don't find it preposterous that the All England Tennis club has appointed a poet in residence for Wimbledon, tennis being the most rhythmically pleasing of sports. Matt Harvey has been engaged to write a poem a day during the tournament, capturing its drama and history.

If he's clever, he'll avoid the cringey, twee, back-and-forth rhythm of that best-known of tennis poets, Sir John Betjeman. Poor Miss Joan Hunter Dunn, the "shock-headed victor" who beat him so emphatically one twilight in Surrey. Although the Poet Laureate insisted that she was fearsome on court, the plodding beat of that famous poem betrayed her as a player quite without style. A better lesson might be taken from the late author David Foster Wallace who in 2006 captured the hectic rhythm of the modern game in a breathless, soaring essay titled Roger Federer as Religious Experience. As it is, I don't think Harvey will be stuck for inspiration. In tennis, even the swearing is lyrical.

You can plaster my walls any time, darling

What does young model Lara Stone see in her new husband David Walliams? "He's so funny," she is reported as saying. Katy Perry presumably thinks the same of her fiancé Russell Brand. Lara and Katy obviously didn't get the memo. The ideal man du jour isn't so much quick-witted as a quick fixer: in the kind of coincidence that happens only in the News of the World, this week we learnt that both Kerry Katona and Lily Allen have found love with painter and decorators. Cue much hilarity from the NOTW writers ("Kerry's getting emulsional"). Actually, I think these girls are on to something: a chap who finishes work early, is macho and yet has an eye for interior décor. Who wants to live with a he-diva besotted by his own wit, when you could have the home of your dreams – and a man who might actually hang around to share it with you?

React Now

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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss