Saturday, 9 June 2012

I never really got the "Language of Flowers" thing.  It seemed, and seems, part of that wretched kitsch Victorianism, the sort of thing that includes all the pastel 19th-century English "Spring" songs, which I would generally rather gnaw my own leg off than sing: however the POWER of flowers, oh yes, now that I believe in, having seen it wonderfully illustrated tonight.

They don't even have to be your own flowers.  I was lucky enough to catch a historic performance of Mendelssohn's Elijah (Elias, as it was in German), at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt.  Some really glorious soloists, a conductor for whom I now have the utmost respect, and - get this - over 600 chorus singers, composed of various choirs from around Frankfurt.  Sound doesn't get much richer than this.

Anyway, one of the soloists is a good friend of mine (I was so proud of her; she sang wonderfully and looked beautiful).  We repaired to her hotel for post-concert drinks on the roof terrace of her hotel, with a skyline of New-York-style skyscrapers and an incongruous mediaeval-looking crenellated tower, along with a few others, and had a lovely time.  I eventually reckoned I'd better get on home, as The Football appears to have started, and I didn't really fancy ploughing my way through a sticky crowd of fans on the way to the station.

In a spirit of generosity totally in character, my friend insisted I take the marvellous bouquet she had earned as part of her performance.  Eh, she's on the road for a few days; they would just have wilted in her possession, so I grabbed them gladly and made off with them (one of the few truly glamorous bits about being a singer is you do get a little blasé about bouquets of flowers.  Now if only I could work out how to get back to those fabled days in singers' biographies when one was equally blasé about diamond bracelets etc etc...).

Trotting back home with the bouquet via public transport produced some interesting reactions (not one of them being, goodness that clashes horribly with your orange and black outfit.  First thing *I* thought.).

First I had a wonderful conversation about gardening with a  group of mostly wheelchair-bound elderly ladies on the platform waiting for the train home.  They'd admired the flowers and were itching to discuss Latin names and longevity and methods of bundling the things together (I use a piece of string normally; had never realised it was an art in itself!).

Then I leapt onto the train and made a beeline for an unoccupied seat, congratulating myself en route on avoiding the two obvious crazies (I am an unexplained weirdo magnet, and public transport intensifies this to a ridiculous degree).  Slight mistake.  No sooner had I sat down than my neighbour leaned over and, his eyes heading in totally opposite directions, slurred, "Beautiful flowers.  For a beautiful lady".  He was 20 if he was a day, pierced in all the places one would have thought possible, and one's mind shrank from what else... Covered in spots of blood, and evidently absolutely plastered.  

I ignored him gamely and got on with a Terry Pratchett novel I was re-reading.  Lots of accidental arm-contact when the train swayed.  What might have been an attempt at eye contact if only he'd been in enough control of his eyeballs.  Eventually he offered me (in what would presumably have been a "cool" manner when at least three-quarters sober) the earbud of his i-Pod, in order to share his music...

Erm.  Thanks but no thanks.  We had a little to-and-fro with him focusing hard on the flowers (probably because they weren't moving) and me batting back things which might have been suggestions had they been articulated to a decent degree. 

He eventually realised that he'd got on the wrong train and was heading in the wrong direction (something in me is proud that my German has now progressed to the point that I can inform a paralytically-drunk German that he's going the wrong way).  I manfully resisted several suggestions that he might come home with me (!!!), and eventually bunged him off the train, telling him that there was one last train back in the right direction, he just needed to go under the tunnel...

Collapsed back in my seat only for the couple opposite to finally let go of the snorted tears of laughter they'd been suppressing since I sat down.  They alternately sniggered and cried until we all got off at the station at which I'd left my bike.  Once they realised that yes, I had no alternative but to jerry-rig this exquisite bunch of flowers behind my cycle seat, they were off again...

Ah yes.  The language of flowers.  21st-century style...


  1. OMG, darling, I'm laughing too. Not AT you, mind, but with you. One really couldn't make this stuff up. I wish I could hear you sing, I just know you infuse your fabulous viewpoint into every role. L'chaim!

    1. Oops; replied underneath rather than in the thread. Technology... *sigh* ;-)

  2. Oh, bless you! There are a couple of recordings on my website ( - hope they give you at least an idea :-)