Friday, 13 September 2013

Goodness Gracious Me

Last week one of my neighbours gave me a large bouquet of white lilies.  She explained that she had received them with other flowers but was allergic to lilies and thought I might like them.

This was an uncomfortable moment for me.  I thanked her profusely, said how kind to think of me and took possession of the beautiful (horrible) things.

If that sounds ungrateful it is not.  I truly appreciated the thought, but wish it could have remained just that, a thought.

A lover of flowers, there is at least one exception to that and lilies are top of the list.  They are toxic to cats, every part of the lily from bulb to stem, from flower to pollen, and for this reason I dug up the ones in my garden some years ago, and never have them in the house.

Additionally, if the pollen falls on fabric it is almost impossible to remove the stain and I have twice had an 'instant colour change' to my clothes when throwing out the dead lilies from the arrangements in the church.

Lilies are just the tip of the iceberg though.

Constitutionally incapable of refusing something (unwanted), when offered in genuine kindness, I feel I need to learn how to refuse graciously and so as not to cause offence.

Someone I rather dislike asked me to have a coffee with them a couple of weeks ago and I was on that occasion able to say honestly that I had a prior engagement and had to run.

For once, I remembered not to say "but another time perhaps".  A fatal mistake and one which will return to bite you on the bum if you make it.

Since John's death I have made the acquaintance of the local bus and taxi services so well that I now have a well-organised network of transport for most of my needs, however, I am grateful for the occasional offer of a lift.

Unfortunately it seems that on the rare occasions when it is comfortably warm and sunny (not hot and humid), and I stroll out of the house early heading for the bus stop in plenty of time in order to enjoy the lovely weather, one or other of my neighbours will stop and offer me a lift.

Unable to refuse, I thank them and arrive before the door is open at my destination, wishing I knew how to say, "no thanks, I'd really like to enjoy the air for a while".

Conversely, when it is freezing or pouring with rain no-one ever stops and I get where I'm going wet, cold and fed up.

Truly I am not ungrateful for unsolicited good deeds, I just wish they occasionally matched my needs.

I'm afraid I don't know how to do gracious.


  1. A nice post this, thank you.

    As I am so you must also learn to be a little more selfish. You have your own answer 5 lines from the bottom - and if you had come back to me with that response to an offer of a lift, I would have not thought an ounce less of you.

    My view is that people's desire to be generous is less than their desire not to be a pain or do the wrong thing. So, if you had turned around and said that you were grateful but can't cope with lilies either, your kindly neighbour would think you a hero for being honest!

  2. Hmmmmm. Not too sure about that David. I am, I think, quite selfish enough, merely not perhaps in quite the right way.

    Maybe a straightforward honest reply would be best. All I need now is the necessary courage.

  3. P S Oh dear, now I really do feel ashamed.

    It is choir practice evening, pouring with rain and our lovely choir mistress/music director has just phoned and said "It is pouring, I'll come and pick you up in about half an hour".
    How very kind, and how very embarrassing. Egg on face, hangs head.

  4. No need to feel like that, Ray. It's very kind of people to offer lifts and many times you will accept gratefully and I'm sure graciously. However, like David, I wouldn't think twice about it if I offered someone a lift and they said they would prefer to walk, thanks. In fact I've said the same thing myself before now and no-one was offended.

    As for the flowers, I'm sure your neighbour would have understood if you'd declined politely with a reason and offered them to someone else. I love lilies, but don't want them because of the pollen either.

  5. Thanks Perpetua. Between you and David I am not to be allowed to consider myself unreasonable.
    Nevertheless, it was rather extraordinary to get that phone call when I did wasn't it?
    I might add, I almost always get a lift home from choir practice from another choir member and accept gratefully, since it is by then dark and I don't like hanging round town waiting for buses or taxis in the dark.
    Oh and the lilies are still going strong with no sign of dropping their pollen as yet.

  6. I love lilies...but I do de anther them in self defence. My mother felt much the same as you but in her case it was the scent. If she smelled it then it fore told death! I'm afraid her forecasts were almost always accurate so there's a lot to said for avoiding them!

    1. I won't mutilate them, it seems somehow cruel (I know, barmy isn't the word) but the pollen is very messy.
      Let's hope this gift is a one off.

  7. I once had a white jacket ruined by lilies but I do love them and the fragrancy that emanates from a freshly bought bouquet.

  8. They do make a mess don't they? But that is only a small part of my dislike of them, it's the danger to cats which really puts me off.
    Why on earth anything so beautiful should be so very poisonous is a complete mystery, but many things in liofe are like that.
    Anyway, they are now safely in the composter thank goodness.

  9. I didn't know that and I have a cat.