Often when you attend press viewings and press days and most other nouns that have the word press in front of them you end up with a freebie. It might be 'functional' (a cup of coffee while you're there), it might be 'baffling' (a spoon with an elephant on top, fake snow), or it might be 'fabulous' (pretty much everything else). Up until a couple of weeks ago it had never been 'responsible'.
That all changed when I went to the Selfridges/Truvia/Bompas & Parr's Voyage of Discovery event.
The event itself involved rowing around on the roof of Selfridges in a green lake, trying to take pictures while not falling out of a boat. Upon leaving everyone was given a bag with foliage poking out of the top.
The foliage belonged to a stevia plant - which Truvia sweetener is based on - and I realised these people expected me to care for it. Adequately.
Now, as far as I understand it, plants are the thing you look after before you get to have a pet. If plant and pet both survive you are allowed to take on children.
My plant (which I named Barry) and I immediately went to the basement for the Selfridges Christmas in July event. A friendly PR put him out of sight in a dark corner so I could look around the collections. Barry, presumable upset by the warmth and the lack of photosynthesis opportunities, spent an hour wilting.
A couple of tube journeys back to the office later and he was positively depressed.
I gave him half a cup of water and tried to ignore my new charge while I worked. At the end of the day I decided to try and socialise Barry by taking him to meet some colleagues at the pub.
His conversation was poor, his thirst was irritating and his inability to move out of the way when someone needed to go past on the way to the toilet was, frankly, unhelpful.
At somewhere past the half-a-jug-of-Pimms mark I decided that Kew Gardens would probably arrest me for negligence if they saw how the day had panned out so I took Barry and myself towards the station for the journey home.
Then I realised I was hungry.
The stevia plant has edible leaves which taste incredibly sweet. I eyed Barry. I eyed my fellow passenger. Would any of them try to stage an intervention if I started to eat my potted plant? To be honest I suspect not, but the journey might have prompted a Facebook page dedicated to 'That girl who ate a potted plant on the tube'.
Ultimately, fear of being 'That girl' won out and Barry survived the journey with only two missing leaves (both eaten on the escalator when no one was looking).
He is now living on my kitchen window sill drinking a ridiculous amount of my tap water and blocking out a lot of my sunlight. I live in daily fear that I will find him shrivelled and dead and have just realised I have to leave him unattended for five days due to a pre-plant-ownership holiday booking.
In conclusion: plants are the worst PR gift ever. Also, my diamond shoes are too tight.