Mrs May, ever the Vicar’s daughter, seemingly wants to deliver us unto us. And she seems to aim to do so with strength and graciousness. Like a snapdragon. Upright, tall and strong. The flower with power and jaws and a snout. Believed to protect, restore, and strengthen…
Theresa May’s try-out then as chat show guest (BBC, The One Show) this week revealed she’d rather she be PM’ing than sitting on a TV sofa. Trying to show she’s a loving, caring person, a wife even, is obviously not natural to her. She perched next to her husband ready to swoop away any impertinent questions; telling us nothing about her domestic side. Her husband of 37 years, Philip, bless him, showed he is most definitely the fluffy one in this relationship.
Politicians showing themselves on chat shows…it’s a risk not many are prepared to take (David Cameron’s 2011 cosy chat on the One Show was going so well until Matt Baker’s sharpie last question; “how do you sleep at night Prime Minister?” completely flummoxed him…)
No doubt an advisor to Mrs May suggested this interview would be a good idea. But what convinced her? Sharing some limelight with her husband, the chance to wear more glitzy shoes? Probably she’s savvy enough to know how much extra news commentary this little chat would bring this week (a few short weeks before the general election). Whilst our precious votes are unlikely to be decided by knowing Philip puts out the bins and “tea’ is on the table at 6; this was a chance to re-iteratie to the few million watching, her election slogan (in case you’ve missed it); “The country needs strong and stable government. The country needs strong and stable leadership. I came from a strong and stable family. The country needs stability,” would be repeated.
Mrs May, despite, or because of, her tired eyes, seems more than ever determined to show us her energy and strength. She could do well then to fill her campaign with antirrhinum (the snapdragon’s botanical name – derived from the Greek “anti,” meaning like, and “rhin,” meaning nose). And so called for the ‘snap’ they make when squeezed. And children love them (she may be well-advised to know)
Thought to have originated as wildflowers in Spain and Italy; snapdragons came to symbolise protection and strength during ancient times. The Romans and Greeks believed in their power to protect from witchcraft. Descorides, the Greek physician wrote that protection would be given to the person that wore snapdragons around their neck. Later in the Middle Ages, snapdragons were planted near the castle gates for their protective properties. In Germany, they were hung above a baby’s bed to ward off evil spirits (and witches). All very useful to know then, when you’ve Labour and the Lib Dems (and others) snapping at your door.
Snapdragons also symbolize grace under pressure or inner strength in trying circumstances (in Russia oil was once made from the seeds and used like butter to boost energy). Support then for her dealings with the EU. And if she feels she’s flagging at the polls, she should try hiding a snapdragon in her clothing – once thought to make a person fascinating and alluring.
But if the flower’s symbolism fails to rub off then perhaps she should appreciate their beauty qualities. Statuesque and sculptural, they tend dominate, but their petals belie a delicacy and intricacy. Women of olden times knew this – boiling them and applying them to their faces – early masks and re-engerizers for the face.
She should be aware though, like the skull-like seeds, there’s a darker side to the snapdragon. Some say they represent deception (perhaps related to the concealment in clothes) and denial (they were worn in the hair by Victorian women to ward off ‘unwanted’ advances).
Garden snobs favour nicotianas or – even better – cleomes; disdaining snapdragons as uncool, too cottage-gardeny, too much like a maiden aunt. A perfect fit then, for Mrs May…