Valentine’s Day is an easy day to resent. Unless you actively seek out overly commercialised, forced displays of affection. Or you really REALLY like red and pink hearts. Or you are in a new relationship with someone who is incredibly keen to demonstrate just how much they like you, and – crucially – has exceptional taste.
I was an awkward, geeky, weird-looking teenager. So Valentine’s Day wasn’t exactly top of my list of favourite days. My (prettier, less geeky) sister always got the actual Valentine’s cards, whereas I was still getting a ‘from ?’ card from my grandparents (God love them!) at 13.
I’ve had some truly terrible Valentine’s days. So I thought that sharing them here might count as a kind of group therapy, and also reassure anyone that might also be a little downhearted at the thought of the national day of love. If you want to skip my therapy, there are some handy links at the bottom to nicer-than-you’ll-find-in-Tescos-at-9pm-on-Feb-13th gift ideas.
After 14 years of waiting for a Valentine’s card, I finally got one that wasn’t from a relative. The sender dashed his chances though; firstly by calling me ‘babe’ but not being Jason Orange, and then by misusing quotation marks and signing it ‘luv’. Farewell, sweetheart!
I once spent the evening of the 14th February at a restaurant, eating off the Valentine’s menu with a friend who had recently been dumped, mid-gig, by his beautiful but somewhat erratic girlfriend. It was supposed to be a ‘oh well, fuck it all, we’re both single and WHO CARES ANYWAY’ celebration, but instead he drank too much wine, cried through his (horrid) pudding, and we spent the next four hours over-analysing Radiohead lyrics and drinking vodka purchased from Lidl in his sitting room where there was ‘evidence of mice.’ (His words, at about 2am. Mouse shuffling, nibbled food, possible droppings.)
The Valentine’s day my housemate’s boyfriend drove the 3 hour journey to see her, only to break up with her unceremoniously and embark on a screaming row in our hallway, for about 3 hours. At some point, one of them broke the best two wine glasses in the house. We had to drink wine out of mugs for ages after that.
Possibly the worst was an ill-advised ‘traffic light’ party I went to at university. Wear red if you’re in a relationship, amber if WELL, WHO KNOWS? and green if…if what? You’re really easy? Urgh. What a revolting concept.
Not revolting enough to stop a group of us going along, all in yellow, obviously, because WELL, WHO KNOWS? Apart from the fact that hardly anyone looks any good in yellow, and I actually look dead, it was like a literal cattle market. Lines of yellow boys along one wall, giggling masses of girls in yellow, and a few in red (although what is the point of that? Why would you go to such an event just to say ‘I’m in a relationship, thanks, I don’t need your shitty traffic light themed disco’ – unless, of course, you are the charming kind of person who is actually looking for a green kind of person, just for the evening.)
It was dire. We left after about ten minutes, after my friend was sleazed on by a shifty-looking chap in a home-dyed yellow t-shirt. (So desperate to prove that WELL WHO KNOWS?? that he had spent the day dying a t-shirt the right colour. Classy.)
Luckily, my traffic light disco nights are over now. Phew. Rich is not very fond of (hates) the whole idea of a commercially driven Valentine’s day, but is wily enough to know that even though I also ‘hate’ it, I’d be most peeved not to at least get a card. A nice card, mind you, not some tat rubbishy one. (Trying to be ironic with your purchases on Valentine’s day is a high-stakes game. You might think that really naff card/huge cuddly monkey holding a heart is VERY FUNNY in the shop, but once it’s sitting on your mantlepiece it’s kind of hard to see the irony behind the giant pink heart. Proceed with caution, and only if you definitely share a sense of irony, I think.)
And hey – despite all my objections to celebrating Valentine’s Day, life is very full and busy, and putting aside some time and effort to make people you love feel special, if only for one day a year, is a nice thing to do.
So if you also wrestle with hating the National Day of Love and Naff Card Purchases on the one hand, but on the other hand would ACTUALLY REALLY LIKE A CARD/GIFT/STEAK DINNER, then you can copy & paste this to email:
Dear boyfriend, husband, lover (delete as appropriate)
I am an intelligent, enlightened woman, not an idiot directed by heady commercial whims; and so I sort of hate Valentine’s day on principle. But CRUCIALLY, this doesn’t mean that I might not appreciate a card. Or even a nice gift. Because there are 365 days in a year, and so celebrating our love/lust/mutual indifference on one of these days is OK really, I guess.
I mean, it would be nice if it was celebrated on a spontaneous day of your choosing, but let us be realistic. Please click on the following links to see some nice ideas to ‘surprise’ me with. Deviate at your own risk.
The Love of Your Life.
Some coolio* Valentine’s day ideas and handy links:
The date night package from the awesome don’tbuyherflowers.com -if you’ve not seen this website yet WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
The best gifts for new mums – gorgeous packages of useful but wonderful things. But also a great place to order Valentine’s Day to arrive in one simple package. Champagne, chocolates, massage oil, tealights. You can even add Cook vouchers to any package – for homemade meals to bung in the freezer ensuring a night off cooking. A night off tea-time duty? Is there a finer gift? I think not.
Some beautiful, ethically produced underwear from whomadeyourpants.co.uk
The pants are beautiful, comfortable and made by women who have had a rough time, who wanted to gain new skills to earn a living and support their families. They all come with a label telling you exactly who did make your pants. Properly beautiful lingerie.
Excellent cards, mainly with a gin/rabbit theme by GinBunny prints, created by the totally brilliant Katie at Hurrah for Gin.
Amazing jewllery. Handmade by Hannah. Splendidly packaged. epanoui jewellery
And if in doubt? Buy socks.
(*yes, I am using that as an actual word now. What of it??)