A pleasant happenstance to share is that this year’s Valentine’s Day crept up without me wanting to slap it in the face.
Stepping over the rows of red rose buckets trip-wiring the entrance to Tesco’s the evening before, I acknowledge that it is impossible for any male to solve the Valentine riddle: how to acknowledge the day with true love and originality and not be accused of crass commercialism by the partner of your dreams. If you ignore the day (citing ‘crass commercialism’ as your defence) you are in for a frosty evening ahead, if you succumb to Tesco’s red roses, you will be ticked off for, ‘paying well over the odds for a manky red rose’.
Cupid’s little arrow can indeed become a thorn in your side.
Facing my first non-solo Valentine’s Day in many years, I wonder whether it is kinder to forewarn FM (Favourite Man/Fortunate Man, you choose) that he cannot possible solve this riddle, or to set him a little relationship test by remaining silent.
Fortunately I don’t have to decide as FM declares he has purchased tickets for us to soak up some culture at the opera – ‘Madam Butterfly’. ‘Do you know the story?’ he asks and I acknowledge that it has been a very, very long time since I have listened to any opera. I take a punt and reply, ‘Woman falls in love, gets her heart broken and kills herself’. ‘You clearly know it’, FM replies. Original choice of Valentine message. Top marks for originality, FM.
At British Military Fit in the early hours of Valentine’s Day, tension is running high (‘Stop calling it Boot Camp in your blogs’, the Drill Sergeant has insisted and I don’t want to risk another burpee forfeit). First the Drill Sergeant tells us that he woke up to a love note and chocolates besides the kettle.(My wife’s a very lucky woman to have me,’ he tells us, totally unsurprised at her thoughtfulness). Then Mr P tells us that he has hidden flowers for his wife in his children’s bedroom and that he will work his cupid magic as soon as he returns from our non-Boot Camp session. Paddy looks nervous; he bravely asks all the females for a Valentine’s kiss, but we can tell – even in this 6 am darkness – that he is looking pale. He has clearly just realised that he is shortly to return home empty handed. Riddle me this, even Tesco Express isn’t open this early.
I am feeling smug, however, for not only am I basking in the knowledge that there is someone to send me a Valentine’s WhatsApp this year, but I also have a date to look forward to. I am also relieved that it is INSET day at school, so we won’t be stung by any Year 10 entrepreneurs trying to sell single red roses during the lunch break.
I am even more fortunate, for not only do I have a date I have a double date as MIF (Most Interesting Friend) and husband have agreed to join us at the theatre. At 7pm MIF launches into the theatre bar sporting a bright green buzz cut and quickly raises a glass to celebrate her last weekend on call at the local hospital before her imminent retirement. I don’t think she realises it is Valentine’s Day but she certainly has no need of a card to make this day one she will love. We may be about to witness the operatic staging of a woman driven to the edge by her cheating man (sorry, forgot to insert a spoiler alert), but our spirits will not be dampened. We raise our glasses in a metaphorical love letter to the NHS for MIF’s many years of devotion.
So Valentine’s Day is back on the calendar as far as I am concerned. It is a shameless excuse to hang out with the people you think the world of – and, if you feel like it – an opportunity to sing out your emotions in a blast of arias,cadenzas and obligattos. My inner diva – Madame Dragonfly – is happy to share the stage again. I will let Tesco’s know that the rose buckets can stay.