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The Rollercoaster Ride of St Valentine's

The Rollercoaster Ride of St Valentine's

My husband comes into the room

How are you feeling about Valentine’s Day this year?” he asks.

‘Good,’ I say. ‘Why?’

For a brief moment which belies 18 years of knowledge  I think, is he going to ask me to farm the children out for the night? I think restaurant, hotel, mini break. I think Paris.

‘Well it’s just that there’s this gig in London on the 14th and I'd like to go.'

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day has a pretty precise demographic, let’s say aged 14 to 25.

We all remember the hope and expectations of our teen years – the wonder of the jam-packed pigeon hole, the devastation of the postman’s empty mail bag. My husband once had a girlfriend who was so infatuated with him that she got all the girls in her year to send him a Valentine’s card at school. At breakfast that year he had 80 cards to open, the kind of flash in the pan adulation which can last a whole lifetime (on his deathbed he’ll be able to think, well, one year I got 80 Valentines Cards). Such generosity of spirit, such attention to detail: clearly he should have married her.

When I look back on the Valentines of my youth they divide pretty evenly into the good and the not so good. The scrabbled last minute dinners in the only restaurant with an available table (cut price Chinese), the hotel nights which ranged from fold away bed in the wall (the undercooked breakfast remains seared into my memory) to the lavish, boutique and overseas.

Then one day children come into the equation and after all the years of angst/excitement Valentine's Day starts to realign itself with reality – basically an overhyped commercial festival and isn’t there something really quite embarrassing about sitting in a restaurant or hotel dining room with fifty other ‘couples”, a bit like choosing a Sandals holiday. I mean, why would you? We might still recognise it with a card or a bunch of flowers and perhaps a couple of steaks and a bottle of wine and we probably wouldn’t choose to go on a work outing rather than be with our spouse (would we?) But that’s about the level of it.

It's not a complete wash out, though. One thing’s for sure, I’ll definitely be getting a card from the seven year old and I’m looking forward to that.


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