A friend of mine, a Lithuanian woman of 60, would rise each day in January before dawn in the far west of Cornwall to pick daffodils.

In rain, hail and even snow, she would bend and pick, bend and pick, while her hands became red and raw with the cold and the slippery stems.

The English rarely take jobs as punishing and poorly paid as this.

I thought of Elena on Monday evening: I was making a late visit to the Co-op in East Cowes: the honest, ethical, moral leader Co-op. 

A young man was piling good food into a rubbish bag for wastage – oranges, tomatoes, fresh-baked bread - and six bunches of bright daffodils, not even fully open, to bring no spring-cheer to anyone.

Not a foodstuff surely, so why would their date matter?

And I thought of the planet, and the huge efforts to which many of us are going to try and save it – and perhaps most of all the homeless, who in their draughty doorways could do with the vitamin boost of an orange against the winter.

Surely, surely, we can do better than this.

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