Okay, that’s not a picture of me (obviously I’m much younger and slimmer), but like her I used to day-dream about flowers and being a florist.
Rather than day-dreaming while sunbathing on a lawn of flowers, I was more frequently sat in a boring council meeting, trying desperately to stay focused on one debate or other. I’d sit there listening intently until the speaker’s voice would turn into a drone and eventually a distant hum when I would see myself arranging flowers, chatting to customers who came into my shop, laughing and joking with other florists and eating cake brought in by the owner of the tea shop down the road. Then I’d be shaken back into reality by someone repeating a name, over and over before realising it was me they were talking to.
I was still young (ish), the boys had grown up and had careers of their own and John was working in London, while I was forging a new career of my own in politics. I started in politics because I wanted to help businesses and communities thrive and I wanted to feel that I was part of the community in which I lived. I wanted people to know who I was, to say hello to me in the street and to share their concerns with me in the hope that I could help.
However, I couldn’t always make people feel better and “Hello” wasn’t the only thing people would shout at me in the street! Neighbours regularly called me to share their thoughts and opinions, but often that was at home on a Sunday afternoon or a weekday evening. My political career escalated quickly and before long I was facing a big decision; whether or not to progress further, putting myself forward as a member of parliament.
I’d had other successful careers in the past but the one I enjoyed the most was floristry. I had worked as a florist in someone else’s shop but I dreamed of having my own florist shop. I was also considering going back to university to study for a Phd in Hearth Tax, a scintillating subject for fans of vernacular buildings. So there I stood at a cross-road, Claire Denman MP pointing straight-ahead, Dr Denman pointing in another direction and in the opposite direction The Unknown.
When John and I moved to Pulborough, I gave up my political career and for a short time became a ‘homemaker‘. That basically meant ‘shopping‘. I’d spend all day looking for items that would enhance or improve our home or our lifestyle. I would squirrel away the boxes but John often noticed something new the minute he walked through the door. One day the ‘something new‘ was a huge hole in the wall between the kitchen and the new extension.
John suggested I took up a hobby, something that would take up a lot of time and not cost too much (so dressage riding was crossed off the list), but I couldn’t really think of anything I really wanted to do other than open a florist.
Just by chance, a few months after moving into the village one of the shops in the centre of the village came available and I knew instantly that this was my chance, my opportunity to open a florist and for my dream to be realised.
John knew that once I had set my mind on something there was no changing it. ” You know it won’t be easy, you’ll be working all hours, we’ll have no time to ourselves” he’d say. “Ah but if I’m busy in the shop all the time I can’t be spending money on your credit card”, I reminded him.
That sealed the deal. The shop became known within the family as my ‘financial play-pen.’ We agreed on a figure that we could afford to lose and would spend no more, if the business failed.
That was exactly FIVE years ago.
Tomorrow, November 4th, 2019 will be our fifth anniversary of opening the shop and my dream really has come true and for most of the time I have never been happier.