BEFORE hitting 50 next year, former SNJ news editor Sandra Ashenford has compiled a bucket list of 50 goals to achieve before her birthday.
The aim is to do one every week.
List item no. 26 - buy a bunch of flowers every week for someone
A FEW years ago the museum where I work put on an exhibition of Dutch still life paintings and, as part of the learning team, it was my job to think up some child-friendly activities to run alongside the show.
At first I was rather uninspired by the pictures of fruit and flowers and I couldn’t quite see how I might engage the attention of our young visitors. Then I realised that the artist’s choice of a particular fruit or variety of flower, together with the way the objects in the painting were arranged, contained a message about morality or mortality.
The messages were very clear to their seventeenth century audience but have to be ‘decoded’ by viewers today, as we do not have the same understanding of the significance of the particular flowers.
While this gave me plenty of scope for creating activities based around codes and secret messages, which were greatly enjoyed, it has left me with a strange fear of giving flowers because I’m not sure what message I’m sending.
But a bunch of flowers will brighten up anyone’s day, so I decided it was time to stop being silly and to start handing out the bouquets. I did quite well for the first few weeks, and brought a smile to the faces of friends and family members with a small floral token.
Then I ran out of close acquaintances and started giving little bouquets to more distant connections who greeted the gift with mild suspicion and slight embarrassment. Just what message was I giving to them?
Did they think I wanted something, or that I had mistakenly thought it was their birthday? Did they think I was trying to chat them up?
Flowers, I decided, could be dangerous things. Almost deadly, in fact.
So I gave up giving bouquets and decided to re-think this particular listing.
I didn’t want to abandon it altogether, and I didn’t want to cheat by buying flowers for myself.
So I’m hopeful that SNJ readers can help. Do you know someone whose day would be brightened by the gift of a bunch of flowers?
If you would like to nominate somebody, write to me care of the SNJ, tell us why you would like your nominated person to receive some flowers and we will choose five people to get a bouquet.