When he was a young boy in Melbourne, Percy would be chastised by Rose for his childish transgressions with the use of the whip - her preferred method of punishment. This was also the method of choice in dealing with her drunken husband's advances after she had contracted syphilis from him, and was fearful of passing the disease on to other children. Percy's fondness for flagellation grew from this beginning, the twining of his deep affection for the mother who could do no wrong with the instrument she used to discipline him. About the age of fifteen, he discovered the pleasures of self-flagellation, which became a lifelong passion for Percy. Rose abhorred this side of her son, but could do nothing to eliminate his desire for the whip. In their private correspondences, she referred to his "deviance" with the euphemism of "blue roses", taken from the following poem by Kipling.
Roses red and roses white
Plucked I for my love's delight.
She would none of all my posies -
Bade me gather her blue roses.
Half the world I wandered through,
Seeking where such flowers grew
Half the world unto my quest
Answered me with laugh and jest.
Home I came at wintertide,
But my silly love had died
Seeking with her latest breath
Roses from the arms of Death.
It may be beyond the grave
She shall find what she would have.
Mine was but an idle quest -
Roses white and red are best!
Image Attribution: SlimVirgin at Wikipedia.org.