A man comes out of a flower shop carrying a single red rose. He carries it in front of him, like a torch, proud to have such a magnificent thing in his possession, but also slightly self-conscious of the deep red, the fullness of the head, the stem seeming to defy gravity. A small girl holding her mother’s hand, twists around to see the rose take the corner before him, her feet stumbling backwards as her mother continues at the same pace. She wants to smell the flower, feel the rims of the petals tickle her nose, make perfume when they start to drop. A young man on a bicycle, kicking the metal pedal against the kerb, again and again, waiting for his friend to come out of the newsagents with twenty Camel cigarettes, stares at the rose, and then the man, and then thinks of his grandmother who kept a plastic red rose in a glass vase on the windowsill of her parlour. She always called it the parlour. The sofa covers were rough. They used to scratch the backs of his bare legs when he went there on Sunday afternoons. A woman coming out of the opticians catches a blur of the rose and she stops in the doorway. There’s something wrong with her glasses, she should have seen that clearly with her new varifocals, and she starts to follow the man. ‘Come back,’ she wants to shout, ‘come back and show me your rose again.’ ‘Please,’ she wants to say, but then she stops at the window of a travel agent. All the cards are blurred. She feels like crying. The man keeps walking. It seemed like the right thing to do an hour ago, but it’s only a rose. How can it help him at all?