The NS guide to self-indulgence - Flowers

Fed up that the summer's refusing to arrive? Worked all through the few sunny days, only to find it rains on your day off? Had to cancel that walk in the country because your in-laws invited themselves for lunch? There is only one way to cheer yourself up: fill a vase with flowers. I used to think you didn't buy flowers for yourself - you had to wait for a dinner party and hope some of the guests would bring flowers instead of chocolates. Or drop endless hints to your partner. But no - buying your own flowers is truly a guilt-free self-indulgence.

Why? Because they really don't cost too much, you don't put on any weight, and you can assure yourself that other people will share in the pleasure. As a mood-enhancer, they beat gin, gyms or Prozac. Even a bundle of daffs, at the right time of year, can wake up the dullest day and the gloomiest room. Flowers make up for mess, bad furniture and a stressful, jangling atmosphere. I love the scent of freesias more than anything in a small and pricey bottle. And when I win the Lottery it's a constant supply of white lilies that I'll be spending my millions on - forget the Porsche and the yacht.

The very best flowers at the moment are English. Ignore those plastic-looking Dutch chrysanths. Go for blue delphiniums, sweet william, good old English stocks, which have a scent to match their vivid colours.

There are so many reasons not to buy flowers. You're in a hurry from work. You should be saving the money for something else. They're a shocking price this year. They won't last. It isn't sensible. And, anyway, it's difficult to carry them with the rest of the shopping.

Enough! To buy flowers is to show that you value the moment, that a little beauty is worth it. To buy them for somebody else is . . . well, you work it out, boys.

This article first appeared in the 17 May 1999 issue of the New Statesman, The NS Essay - A culture of pretence