When I was younger I received more valentine cards than birthday cards. Huge cards with padded, screen printed, silk panels, which must have cost each hopeful most of their pocket money. They were filled with hearts and kisses, and signed "From me to you guess who?" Obviously these girls expected me to be able to guess who, otherwise why invest so much in a card. I never could guess who, and didn't even bother to investigate for fear of opening up a can of worms. To all of those girls I'm truly sorry.
Nowadays I only receive a single card from my wife, usually an insulting one about being grumpy or old, and I suppose that I should be thankful for small mercies. My wife hates the lovey-dovey type of cards and always insists that I buy a funny card. Because of this I am under pressure to make her laugh every time that Christmas, Valentine's day, or her birthday comes around, and as they all come around within the same five weeks of the year, I'm a nervous wreck by February 15th. She also buys a card for me, and by the time I produce my card,on the appropriate anniversary, she has already spent an hour selecting one for me. While making her selection she's read every card in the shop, while laughing uncontrollably at every single one until people in the shop are infected by the laughing bug. When she's remembered every card by heart and can even repeat them on her arrival home, I'm expected to buy one which will make her laugh.
I find funny Valentines Day cards more difficult to buy every year; there are no messages of love, respect or affection any more, just lewd references to sex.
"Valentine you have the loveliest legs I have ever seen. When do they open?"
"Darling, should we go out on Valentine's Day for a romantic meal and a nice bottle of wine, or we could just stay home and bonk."
Last year I refused to buy a card at all, but this year I managed to find one which wasn't bordering on pornographic, although how funny my wife will find it is debatable.
After buying a card flowers are expected. Florists are aware of this and flower prices soar faster than the household utility bills until a mortgage is required to purchase them. In the evening you must take your loved one out for a meal, although if you haven't booked before Christmas the chances of getting in anywhere decent is remote. On Valentine's Day there is always a set Valentines Day Menu. This is the usual three course Sunday roast menu, which retails at £9.99, but now costs £29.99, while the menu advertises,
"Lover's prawn cocktail,
Cupid's roast beef with Yorkshire pudding,
Sweetheart's sticky toffee pudding.
Is Valentine's Day really necessary? Saint Valentine had no connection with romantic love, he was executed by the Roman emperor Claudius as one of a number of Christian martyrs and his head was preserved at Winchester Abbey. Are we all so insecure in our relationships that we need to invent St Valentine's Day to reinforce our bonds of love, or should we all try that little bit harder throughout the year?