Friday, 27 September 2013


I went to Hobbycraft today. That is to say, Jilly went to Hobbycraft. I went along for the journey, to get some air, navigate the treacherous web of London Buses and, of course, hold the bags. In fact, it turned out there were more shops around that area too, so we also looked at some fish in Pets at Home for a bit and I blasted by way through Level 1 of Super Mario 3D Land on a display 3DS. (In PC World. Not Pets at Home. Or Hobbycraft.)

I'm not as into craft as I could/should be (or, indeed, used to be). I tried out some of the pens and walked around looking for oddities while Jilly had a more concrete idea of what to do with all the stuff they had on offer. And then I walked straight into an aisle of fake flowers and was momentarily stunned.

I've never understood the idea of fake flowers. I mean, they're very pretty, but then so are real flowers. And yet I used to carry one around with me in my late teenage years (I found it on the floor and kept it in my coat pocket for luck. Whipping it out and doing an impression of James from Pokémon got old after a while, I came to realise)... and I also have an earlier story about artificial flowers fron the dim and distant past. A whole seventeen years ago.

I was 11. I'd just started secondary school and, for the first time, I was noticing girls - not to say that they were invisible beforehand; most of my friends are girls. But I didn't have any friends at this new school, and the only time I really talked to anyone was due to my being sat next to them during class. Only a few of these tenuous relationships worked, although some people ended up being friendly with me. Some less so.

One person who was in the middle of all this was the girl who sat next to me in Maths, due to the fact that our surnames were alphabetically similar. She was pretty, friendly and clever in the intellectual sense (insofar as she was quite good at Maths, etc.), but not very bright in other ways. There wasn't anything we really had in common, but nevertheless, we exchanged pleasantries and did our work. We sat together in Geography, as well - a better situation, actually, as we had a great teacher and I loved the subject.

As I've said, I didn't have much to talk to her about. I liked her, but didn't have a crush, per se. I did, however, once overhear her talking to one of her friends.

"...and he bought me a lovely silk flower!"
"Oh, that's lovely. I wish a boy would buy me something..."

So I did.

It took me a while. I didn't even know why I suddenly wanted to buy her something. I guess I just wanted to do good deeds for people, other than sharpening pencils and giving them the answers to questions. This would make her feel loved. It seemed, at the time, like a good idea.

I guessed that her favourite colour was yellow (from the fact that she learned the word "jaune" in French once), and walked to the local silk flower shop (yes, there actually was one) in order to buy a yellow flower... after checking that it wasn't actually made out of silk, let's be ethical here. I took it home, put it inside a cardboard tube, packed it into a Jiffy bag, and then realised that I had no idea what her address was. I couldn't go up to her at school and give it, because that would have given her the wrong idea. And I'd have been teased... well, more than I was already.

So I had the smart idea of looking in the 'phone book. I found her surname and whittled it down to a couple inside the school's catchment area. Choosing the most likely one (with good faith that it would reach her anyway, in case it wasn't her house and that of a relative), I posted it.

And that was that. Of course it was the wrong address. As I found out later in the year, it was the wrong house number. And wrong road. Wrong postcode. Wrong bit of London, in fact. I'd sent a synthetic flower to someone I didn't know at all. With no return address or, indeed, explanation.

But I do hope that whoever received the package opened it. I hope they were confused but delighted with the fact that somebody had bought them a flower. It would be a shame to let it go to waste...

...even if, as a fake, it doesn't really do anything.

Unlike that one that 47 had which sang Build Me Up Buttercup.

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