I’m not the romantic sort … on Valentine’s day, I don’t expect to be taken out to an expensive dinner or bought diamonds – but I do expect something. Preferably a big box of hand-made chocolates that my swain would have researched to perfection: dark chocolate, no alcohol. Centres to include: caramel, coconut, almonds, mint, orange, salt, ganache and toffee. (Never, ever, any raisins. They’re like eating bug-dung or dried up dog-ticks.) I would love this gift even more if the box was large, red velvet and heart-shaped. And if it was accompanied by a bunch of hydrangeas or peonies (not red roses), I would quite possibly love him forever.
Run a bath, give me a glass of wine and tell me to relax while you roast a chicken. Hire a movie you know I have wanted to watch for ages. Sit with me on the sofa and we’ll have the chocolates for dessert. Don’t eat too many – because (as you will know) I would like to have one or two a day over the next couple of weeks.
If you want to give me a gift as well, and I will not be disappointed if you don’t… cashmere is always welcome. Especially if it is a baggy sweater I can wear with sweatpants to our dinner. I don’t want jewellery.
Despite my best attempts in the past to dissuade them, my fellas have bought into the “Go Big or Go Home, It’s Valentine’s Day” ethos – and we’ve ended up with disasters. Massively overpriced dinners at stuffy restaurants, undrinkable champagne with gold leaf flecks, stuck at the airport in a snowstorm, crotchless edible knickers (errm, that’s for me??), a gift voucher to a sex shop, a book of redeemable cheques promising me –“an oral pleasuring session” (hmm, I’m seeing a theme here), his and her four-handed massages (that’s eight people in the room with us, honey!), a naked serenade on a banjo and, on one unforgettable occasion – chocolate body paint that smelled and tasted like sick.
Not easy to just wash off.
One notable exception would be the time G took me to see Henry Rollins do stand-up comedy in London (he’d even booked in advance!). We ran through the rain straight from work, grabbed a quick dinner at one of the cheap and cheerful Chinese restaurants in SoHo, bought a box of Maltesers and laughed our asses off for two hours. It bought him another year with me, long after I knew I should have ended our relationship.
Then he dumped me for Miss Venezuela. But that’s another story for another time.
This year there will be no romance for me. And I am completely ok with that. Instead I am going to grab the kids, my sister, sofabrother and Jack – and head for the school field. We’re going to have a scrumptious picnic and dance the night away under the stars.
It’s not only romantic love that’s worth celebrating.
We were a newly minted couple and still unschooled in the conventions of love. Valentine’s day dawned and left us wondering whether we should do something special to celebrate it. One of us suggested going out for dinner after work. Utterly original.
We set out in his VW Golf and proceeded to one of our favourite restaurants. “Do you have a reservation?” was the standard enquiry at the half a dozen or so establishments we tried. Of course we didn’t. That would have been far too much advance planning.
Milan in February is cold, damp and foggy; the greys and slates of its buildings even more unwelcoming than usual. Instead of considering a take out pizza and a night on the couch, we persisted in wanting the “romantic” thing. We ended up in a Thai restaurant not quite in the historical center of town, the fogged up windows of which promised a “Valentine special”. Besides a hefty Japanese community that has spawned some excellent sushi restaurants, Asian food in Milan is under represented or misrepresented at best. Half way through a barely edible meal that left us wishing for take-out pizza, a middle-aged lady clad in pale blue veils, approached our table and performed a belly dancing number, tummy rolls a few inches from our dismayed faces, all appetite lost. The Valentine Special. We fled into the dreary night and, for the last 25 years, I have not set foot in a restaurant on Valentine’s day.
Cook me dinner, or, better still, let’s cook it together. Write me a card on blank paper – your words, not an underpaid Hallmarks writer’s. No need for gifts. Just be with me, like every other night but maybe with a special glimmer in your eyes.
This year, breaking from protocol, I got tickets to see Casablanca on the big screen, with a big bag of handmade chocolate meringues in tow. Is there anything more romantic than getting lost in Ingrid Bergman’s sensual lips and Humphrey Bogart’s cigarette drawl?
Here’s looking at you kid. Happy Valentine!