Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Keith Stewart on roses

The 96th in this occasional series of reprints from Quote Unquote the magazine is from the January/February 1994 issue. The seven-page feature “I Get a Kick Out of This” was a collection of brief pieces by Brian Turner, Jacqueline Fahey, Owen Marshall, Barbara Else, Colin Hogg, Iain Sharp, Nigel Cox, Mary-Louise Browne and others – booksellers, painters, publishers, journalists, art curators – writing about more cheerful stuff than most books magazines did at the time: motorbikes, daughters, dogs, poker, haircuts, guitars, ice cream, shoes and more. The intro read:
There’s more to life than books. . . For a start, there’s chocolate. Here are another 20 of life’s extraordinary pleasures.

They are the sexiest things that grow. Always have been. In spite of the many prudish suburban gardens they adorn, the blatant sensuality of roses is still earthy enough to turn a shiver or two. They are a pleasure you can’t deny.

Red ones are hottest, especially when they have that radiating fragrance that makes the air resonate with their passionate colour. Fires deeper than you could imagine controlling, scorching away the mundane detail of gardening as soon as the buds spill their colours out. A great come-on to your eyeballs, heady visions laced with perfume.

Sweet pink seduces with subtlety; roses named for nymphs’ thighs, which capture the curve and texture of flowers with body. A graceful turn and flicker, blushed with promise, shaped exquisitely, they are an age away from fertiliser and fungal spray, flower shows and other public displays. This is intimate stuff, between a man and his rose in some secret, sunny corner of the mind.

Pure white tantalises, an unspoken hint. All grace and form, scent more ravishing for the subtlety of its source. Calm and elegant with a pristine beauty more powerfully suggestive than any scarlet bloom could be. A breathtaking abundance, pure and pregnant. Life with poise, playing on every sense a simple, ancient tune of pleasure. Sadly for old what’s her name, a rose is not a rose, is not just a bloody flower.

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