A Fistful of Dandelions – a haunting tale of floral snobbery

When I was at primary school, I had a friend who lived up the road from me – let’s call her Debbie. I used to walk home from school with Debbie every afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day in May, and it was also her birthday. I’m sure that I (or rather, my mum) must have bought her a present, but I can’t remember what it was, probably some Mr Men knickers which were all the rage in the early 80s. But what I do remember was that there were masses of yellow dandelions everywhere, and they were particularly abundant on the central reservation of the dual carriageway that we had to cross to get home.

Well, I was overwhelmed by this sheer expanse of dandelions (even with the Ring Road traffic speeding past on either side of me!) and decided that it would be a wonderful idea to gather a classy birthday treat for my friend, in the form of a large bunch of dandelions. Now let’s face it ladies, it doesn’t get better than that on your birthday, does it?

I diligently picked the dandelions, arranged them in my tiny hands to form a fluffy yellow bouquet, taking care not to squash the stems, and gave them to my friend. She, at least on face value, seemed rather pleased with my offering. We finished crossing the dual carriageway, remembering our Tufty Club training, and walked the five minutes or so back to her house.

So imagine my 7 year old dismay when we got back and her mum took one look at the dandelions and proclaimed that they couldn’t possibly be brought into the house because Debbie suffered from hayfever. Well, this was the first I knew of it, and Debbie too, I think! She’d carried the treasured dandelions home with not a wheeze, sneeze or watery eye in sight. Nevertheless, my birthday dandelion endeavours were immediately condemned to the compost heap and that was the end of the matter.

Now dear reader, this matter has played on my mind for many years, as you can probably tell. Even at 7 years old, I could smell a rat. Did Debbie really suffer from hayfever? Or was this a blatant case of floral snobbery? We shall probably never know the truth…but I know where my suspicions lie.

What do you think?

“Happy Birthday!”


Health and Safety note
It’s probably not a good idea to let 7 year olds pick flowers (yet alone, dandelions) on the central reservation of a dual carriageway. The events detailed above happened in the eighties and the concept of health and safety was way different to what it is today.

*names have been changed to protect the innocent.


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