It's not something I'd expect to say but, with the daffodil season nearly over, I'm quite relieved. Why? Well, every year, just as daffodils burst into being, so does the Daffodil Campaign. This year seemed particularly successful, judging by the number of lapels adorned with the rather fetching daffodil pin. In case you've missed them (and I can't think you have, as they seem to be everywhere), they're the sign of a donation given to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
It's a much-loved, much-needed charity, providing nursing care to over 31,000 terminally ill patients each year, everywhere from remote Scottish islands to big cities. I know that, were I in the position to need them, I'd be deeply grateful. But...
...is there anyone else out there who wishes, despite the worthiness of the charity, that the branding hadn't worked so well? Or am I unique in now connecting one of the loveliest and most prolific of spring flowers with devastating disease?
From a branding point of view, its success is unarguable. The daffodil symbol, adopted by the charity in 1986, has grown in power over the years. It first hit me with the Fields of Hope. On roundabouts and grass verges, a few years ago, these plantings became so common that I began to anticipate that every yellow host heaving into view would also sport a sign mentioning Marie Curie Cancer Care. Often it did.
According to the Marie Curie website, the daffodil is an international symbol of hope, and it's not the only charity to take it up. Hotfoot after our UK drive in March comes The Canadian Cancer Society's campaign, and right now they're busy selling daffodil pins in time for Daffodil Day on 27th April.
However, it brings up the wider question of whether organisations and companies should try to make a naturally occuring living object their logo, given that the living object essentially belongs to everyone and otherwise would possess a neutral image. Graphical logos are different, as a very specific image is created, even if a natural subject is chosen (BP's schematic sunflower comes to mind).
I wondered what the charity would think of my problem, so, last month, with daffodil season and campaign well under way, I was delighted to bump into Stuart Witt, Marie Curie's Social Media Manager. Had he come across my problem before? No. (Perhaps it really is just me.) Although, he's noticed social networks rumbling each March with Welsh grumbles that their national flower is being hijacked.
Still, he didn't laugh at me, for which I was grateful. The emphasis, he pointed out, was hope. "Not hope in the traditional sense, of getting better, but hope in providing a better quality of life in the time that someone has left".
He said that since working for Marie Curie, he's come to see that your remaining weeks, when terminally ill, can be the most amazing of your life. This reminded me of the intensity of living that Dennis Potter described shortly before his death in 1994, when he enthused over the blossom outside his window.
I see it is the whitest, frothiest, blossomest blossom that there ever could be, and I can see it. Things are both more trivial than they ever were, and more important than they ever were, and the difference between the trivial and the important doesn't seem to matter. But the nowness of everything is absolutely wondrous... There's no way of telling you; you have to experience it, but the glory of it, if you like, the comfort of it, the reassurance ... The fact is, if you see the present tense, boy do you see it! And boy can you celebrate it.
So, how to make my encounters with daffodils a positive experience, rather than saddening? Well, this is Stuart's advice: "Think about it more as hope - uplifting, celebrating life." This is certainly something to fasten upon. Perhaps we should all learn to treat them as a lesson in being in the here and now. To be honest, though, I wish I didn't have to. I'd rather just enjoy them as daffodils.
NB Stuart writes the Stay Happy and Don't Die blog and is currently wearing a hat. Follow his adventures on Twitter #lovemyhat.