Saturday, 13 February 2010

Presents! Chocolates! Flowers! Hooray!

See, there is every chance I could still marry a fireman from Queens. With dimples.

Is Valentine's day just a load of commercial rubbish? Well, maybe. The hearts and balloons start creeping into the shops just after Christmas, gradually increasing until they have built up to a screaming crescendo by the 13th of February. Unless you live on a remote Scottish island without a Tesco metro, it's unlikely you will be able to escape the onslaught.

If you are in a relationship, there is unavoidable pressure to be impossibly romantic with your partner, normally booking a table at a restaurant where you will pay twice as much as usual to sit in a room surrounded by other couples trying to our-romance each other. I once worked with a girl who received two dozen roses on Valentine's day, from the guy she'd started seeing at Christmas. (Delivered to her workplace = extra points.) I think I can speak for all the ladies present on that day when I say this is now the standard by which we measure the efforts of men we are involved with, poor suckers.

If you are single, you may feel pressure to find someone to date, resulting in an undignified scramble to attend every speed dating event in a 20 mile radius, of which there will be many. (One redeeming feature of Valentine's day is that clubs have now caught on to the fact that there is a whole bunch of single people wanting to go out, so as to avoid the takeaway for one eaten in front of a Tom Hanks film.)

Having played both sides, I can't say I'm a particularly big fan of V day. On occasions when I've had a boyfriend, it always seems to coincide with a big argument (2005 will forever be known as the St Valentine's day massacre). Any presents I've had have invariably been cuddly toys – normally bears holding little hearts. (If I were a more highly strung kind of girl, I might have some sort of "How could you think I would like this?!" tantrum, but being a more easy going type, I merely say thank you and then stuff them in a drawer, perhaps to be unearthed next time I'm doing a charity shop run. )

It took me a while, but last year I finally came up with came up with a sure-fire way to make Valentine's day an opportunity for fun rather than a grim 24 hours in which I must hibernate in case anyone asked me if I'd had any cards. I decided that, if I had a boyfriend, I would be spending money on him and hopefully receiving a few presents in return; in which case, why not just cut out the middle man and buy presents for myself? With this plan in place, I began to look forward to the 14th. I treated myself to some Lush products, chocolates, and flowers. So for once, I got exactly what I wanted on the big day. Self-love is the way to go! Women do sometimes have unrealistic expectations for their menfolk – so rather than stressing about whether he's going to get you the right gift, why not just buy yourself what you want? Then whatever he dredges up from the corner shop will be a bonus...

Meanwhile, for the singletons, why not just enjoy that rom-com without shame? It'll be more fun to watch it without sarcastic commentary, anyway. Pity the fool who is at his moment sitting in a beige living room and watching "The Ugly truth" because her boyfriend was in Tesco, where it was touted it as "the perfect Valentine's gift".

You see, when you are single, the future is unknown. There is still a chance, no matter how small, that you might marry a cowboy and end up living on a ranch in Texas. Or meet a swarthy Parisian while checking out art in the Louvre. Or get chatting to that cute boy who works in the record shop. The possibilities are endless, and nothing is set in stone.

Enjoy it while it lasts.... xx

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