IT’S 315 DAYS ’til Christmas, apparently.
But to many of us, that benchmark is otherwise known as Valentine’s Day – February’s half-way point, celebrated these days with nauseating displays of socially-networked affection. Indeed, I was lucky enough to stumble across a handful of pictures of red roses on Facebook this morning, all of which looked pretty much the same, and, like the imminent storms that are threatening the UK at present, I’m awaiting the goggle-eyed pictures of teddy bears and – dare I say it – an engagement ring or two. I shudder, but really, I don’t mind V-Day (D-Day’s less martial counterpart) as much as I do the ‘romantic’ rubbish fed onto Facebook every 14th February.
If you know me at all, I’m not one for grotesque sentimentality, and so will be avoiding restaurants at all costs today, but the more I think about it, the more I think the concept of Valentine’s Day as actually quite a nice thing. Couples making an effort for each other, doing something for themselves; be it more sex, a meal, a weekend away (or all of the above) – it’s a warm flicker of emotion in this otherwise bleak month of the year. We can’t forget that annual argument of couples should “show their love all throughout the year and not just on one day”, as I’m sure I’ll be reminded of by the cynics among us, but can you imagine if your boyfriend/girlfriend bought flowers or aftershave for you every single day? Your place would smell like a garden centre, or a brothel, and you’d soon get pretty sick of it. I would, at least. Saving all that amorous activity for one day of the year seems like a good idea. We’d be broke otherwise.
You might be one of the many people who brand Valentine’s Day as ‘commercialised rubbish’ and admittedly, I don’t disagree with you. It’s a far cry from its early traditions in Geoffrey Chaucer’s time. Now you can’t move for the sparkly, chocolaty, cuddly shop fronts vying for our Valentine’s Day vulnerability – something not even Chaucer’s imagination could conjure up, I’m sure. I even saw a sports shop cashing in on Valentine’s Day with a Trainers for Him, Trainers for Her promotion (how tenuous is that?). We – or I, in any case – have become so accustomed to the sugary red-and-white displays in shop windows at this time of year that I’m not shocked or sickened by it at all. Go on, roll your eyes – but look at it this way: nearly every other special occasion we celebrate is now so consumed with consumerist traditions that really, V-Day is no different. Can you picture a Christmas that wasn’t at least partially commercialised? It’d be strange. That said, you don’t have to buy the stuff they’re selling, of course, but I’m sure your wife would like it if you did.
So, yes, I’m not a Valentine’s Day hater, or a Valentine’s Vampire as I call it. Let couples have their day of openly declaring their love for each other, just please keep it away from social networks. Love – just like hate or grief – is something intense and personal that is best kept between those who share it. As soon as the whole word sees it, it can get ugly. Kissing selfies are a no-no; nobody except your mother and best friend wants to see an undersized engagement ring forced onto your oversized finger and Jack can’t be “the best boyfriend in the world ever!” because if you read around, you’d see that there are lots of “best boyfriends in the world ever!”. If your friends and acquaintances – single or otherwise – want to see such very, very soft pornography, they’d go and buy it.
I’m not bitter though. I promise you. Really, I’m not. Seriously. But if you would like to send me a love letter and a box of chocolates, however, please go ahead. I’ll get back to you once I’ve sorted through the first four bags of cards and letters.