As it happened, this coincided with the end of Julie's job at the CAB, a place she had worked at for quite some time. Obviously, not every place of employment works like this, but when the news broke that Julie was leaving the Bureau, there was a genuine disappointment (and relief for Julie, who had been trying to leave the bloody place for years). There was also a not insubstantial whip-round. In addition to this, a number of other staff members felt compelled to shower my wife with gifts directly and in addition to what may have been planned.
So it was that I received a phone call, asking me to collect her from the Bureau. When I drove up to the office, what appeared to be a triffid walked out. It was only when Julie's faced peeked out from behind the foliage that I undid the car's automatic locks...
Yes, she was a popular person. Even the boss chipped in, by buying some fake medals and awarding them to her, claiming that they were for long service, toleration of a certain colleague, and success in the face of labyrinthine and constantly changing procedures and protocols.
One such gift was a bowl of flowering plants - absolutely lovely, but there was an immediate problem. Since we were going to be visiting my mother in two days' time, leaving them in our front room without care may have been problematic.
In case you're wondering, the flowers are still alive and flourishing nicely.