Like Morrissey and the May Queen, Shena Mackay strews flowers wherever she goes. In these stories they run riot in neglected gardens and wilt on kitchen window sills. They wait to be painted by aspiring artists and tempt covetous neighbours. A woman looks down from her high-rise apartment at a rare bush of white holly and yearns for one sprig of it at Christmas. Another wishes she could spend all day smoking and reading detective novels in the garden. Honesty (the hardy perennial) appears in more than one flowerbed, but is hardly perennial among the human inhabitants of these stories, especially not the men.