I have never bought into the whole Valentines thing, partly because I’ve been working in the hospitality industry since I was 17 and it has always been much more lucrative to serve the candlelit tables than to book them.
But I won’t be so coy or bitter as to belittle or deride the most romantic day of the year, because the truth is, and regular readers will know this, I am an old romantic.
Yes, St. Valentines Day has become a multi-billion money making machine. Yes, we are all sick to cynicism with all the inflatable hearts, teddy bears, over expensive bunches of flowers and the pink and red everywhere. There is always a sickeningly sweet rom-com to see, a cheesy compilation CD to provide some romantic background music over the aphrodisiac-fuelled five course meal costing five times as much as it would on any other day of the year. And the evil capitalist world we live in will guilt trip you into buying into it all, because if you don’t you clearly don’t love your other half enough.
We all know it. We joke about it, we scoff at it, but it is still the big pink, fluffy elephant in the room with a heart on its chest and says “I wuv you” when you squeeze it.
But beneath all the confetti and rose petals and poorly named online greetings card companies, beneath all the cheesy, tacky rubbish and decaying flowers, at its simplest, purest, most basic being, Valentines Day is a very beautiful, very lovely thing.
To show the one you love, adore, like or just fancy the pants off, how you feel, whether it’s through heartfelt declaration under a bedroom window, holding a boombox above your head, or the extravagant spending on chocolates, flowers, dinner, a movie, the whole Valentines package. However you say it, at least you’re saying it. People may buy into multi-billion money making side of Valentines Day but if the simple, pure, basic feeling is at the heart of all the spending, is it such a bad thing?
Speaking as someone who has served those candlelit tables for so many years, I can tell you it is no bad thing for all the struggling restaurants who have felt the recession the hardest.
Valentines Day aside, the idea of romance and all things love and heart-shaped has been heavy on my mind of late.
I have been single now for two years, and romance has been far and few between, not that it was such a big part of coupled-up life either. However, that is another long and arduous story for another day or another paperback chick-lit coming to an Oxfam near you.
The lack of romance in my own love life hasn’t blinded me to its presence elsewhere.
Almost all of my dearest friends are happily coupled-up, and while I try not to hold it against them, it can be frustrating to see my friends take their significant others for granted, to sweat the small stuff, to not treasure each other as they should. But that is real life. Work and family and friends get in the way of even the greatest romances. Candlelit dinners must give way to washing your significant other’s pants. Red roses have little time or place amid the dull monotony of day to day life. Which is why I’ve discovered a newfound respect for Valentines Day.
I will be spending the most romantic day of the year at work, plying the lonely hearts with cheap booze in which they can drown their lonely sorrows, but I hope all my coupled-up friends will indulge in some cheesy, tacky, rose-petaled romance.
But just for this one day, you can feck right off if you think I’m third-wheeling it with a bunch of dreamy-eyed lovebirds for the rest of the year.