And so, the annual humiliation ritual that is Valentine’s Day is almost upon us again…
For the loved-up, this is a matchless opportunity to express your devotion to your other half by presenting them with the trite triumvirate of a sickily sentimental/whimisically cute/just plain nauseating card, “premium” chocolates and slightly sad-looking red roses, retailing at nine times the market value.
Piling into a restaurant with an overpriced special menu and harassed waiting staff is optional, but if you’re going for home catering, you’d better be sure to put on a spread worthy of a Michelin star, presented with a finesse that’s usually reserved for visiting dignitaries. No pressure, now.
Cynical? But of course. Shame on you if you expected anything less.
For the rest of us, the ‘joy’ of Valentine’s Day is inescapable. No matter how certain you are of your singleton status, there’s still a small part of you that hopes that this year, things will be different: this year, there’ll be a secret admirer that will tire of the unbearable burden of keeping their devotion a secret and will unleash a cascade of love that starts with a shinily-wrapped something, delivered to your door on the morning of the 14th.
I’m almost ashamed to admit that I still bound down the stairs with a hopeful glint in my eye.
I’m not sure whether this is down to living in Italy where, as the only natural blonde for miles around, I was routinely lavished with treats and sweetmeats, or my mum’s persistence in mailing me a Valentine’s card every year up to, and including, the year that I turned 24.
Either way, the last few years have brought little but disappointment, and I’m starting to get a bit churlish about it all. There’s only so many all-female ‘alternative Valentine’ get-togethers you can throw before you want to deliver a well-aimed swipe at Cupid and his ineffectual bow-slinging.
I look around and I wonder to myself, am I really any less loveable than all the happily coupled-up folk I see around me? I mean, I know I’m not the sort of fluffy little being that men rush to protect, but neither was Cruella de Vil and even she bagged herself a man. (Oh yes, she did. He was a furrier, who kept her in the manner to which she had become accustomed.)
However – bar any last-minute declarations of undying love – while the rest of you spoon and swoon, I’ll be attending an alternative soirée for the tragically single once again.
Valentine, schmalentine, that’s what I say. Love hearts and flowers? Bah, humbug!