In the corridors of power
Where the talks are in full swing
If you can't say it with flowers
Then don't say anything.
—Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
For the many of us who thought that saying it with flowers was the right option for the good times and the bad times, the celebrations and the screw-ups, well guess what? You're wrong. If you normally tend to say it with flowers only, you're a blooming idiot. Britain's Independent newspaper advises, "Don't say it with flowers—just make sure there are some blooms nearby."
The newspaper cites new research which suggests one of the best places for a man to woo a woman is outside a florist. The survey reveals that one in four lone female shoppers gave their telephone number to an attractive stranger when they were courted in front of a flower shop, more than twice the number who succumbed to the same proposition near a shoe shop.
In the study, a panel of women picked five young men who stood out as exceptionally good-looking. The men were then sent to shopping areas to approach 120 young women near flower, shoe and cake shops. The researchers, from the University of Southern Brittany in France, say the presence of flowers, associated as they are with romance, may trigger positive feelings in women, making them more likely to agree. It is clear that the flowers took the cake in making romance bloom.
While there is a lot more we can say about why the shoes came second, we have to wait until Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin get off their conference call about boycotting Flowers International. The main thing though is that racked with shame they all had a down-at-heel, soleful look and their tongues were hanging out.
If you're a handsome man and you approach a woman in front of a cake shop, she might think you're a gigolo trying to sponge off her and then you could get a frosty reception or even run the risk of being battered. If she thinks you're trying to sexually harass her, and she sues you, that could be construed, not just as a tort, but a tort utterly wasted.
Shoes might be more appealing in wet weather or what Trinis call "weather for leather" and who knows, she might take a shine to you. However, if the weather is fine, go to the flower shop otherwise when you try to approach her in front of the shoe shop with a "Good Morning" you might end up with a brusque, "Hush Puppy."
In addition to inspiring thoughts of romance, flowers and flower-shops have also inspired some really good puns (even though my friends say the term "good puns" is an oxymoron). Three friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened a small florist shop to raise funds. Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, the rival florist across town lost most of his customers to what he thought was very unfair competition.
He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not. He tried again, went on his knees, begged, pleaded and promised all kinds of donations to the Church, but the friars to close down, but they would not. He asked his mother, a very devout woman and pillar of the Church, to go and ask the friars to get out of the business. They would not. So, the rival florist hired Hugh McTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to persuade them to close. Hugh beat up the friars and thrashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close their business. Terrified, they did so—thereby proving that: Hugh, and only Hugh can prevent florist friars.
This man loved his wife very much. He wanted this Valentine's Day to be special, so he had ordered a bottle of her favourite liquour imported directly from France and it had arrived in time for the occasion. On his way home, he stopped at the local florist. He had planned to have a bouquet made with her favourite flower, white anemones. But to his dismay, he found that the florist had sold all her flowers and had only a few stems of feathery ferns left for decoration.
In a moment of inspiration, he had the answer. He asked the florist to make a bouquet using the flask of liquor and the ferns instead of flowers. What she produced was magnificent and well beyond his expectations. He added a card, and proceeded home. When he arrived, his wife was beautiful in her most elegant gown, and it was apparent that she had spent much of the day preparing a romantic candlelight dinner for the two of them.
He presented her with his gift, and she opened the card to read, "Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder." With a tear in her eye, she whispered to him lovingly, "Yes, and with fronds like these, who needs anemones."
And my favourite? Once there was a beautiful woman who loved to work in her vegetable garden, but no matter what she did, she couldn't get her tomatoes to ripen. Admiring her neighbour's garden, which had beautiful, bright-red tomatoes, she went one day and enquired of him his secret.
"It's really quite simple," the old man explained. "Twice each day, in the morning and in the evening, I expose myself in front of the tomatoes and they turn red with embarrassment." Desperate for the perfect garden, she tried his advice and proceeded to expose herself to her plants, twice daily. Two weeks passed and her neighbour stopped by to check her progress.
"So," he asked. "Any luck with the tomatoes?" "No," she replied excitedly. "But you should see the size of my cucumbers!"
• Tony Deyal was last seen saying that instead of flowers he plans to plant potatoes around his house. "They's safer than watchdogs," he said, "because they always keep their eyes peeled."