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  • Gemma Speakman

Valentines - for and against


VALENTINE - SCHMALENTINE

If you’re reading this this evening, chances are you not in that toe curlingly totes awks position of sitting alongside other coerced couples chowing down a very average set menu. Lucky you. Oh Valentine suckers, the fake romantics - the subjects of marketeers dreams dutifully obeying the rules of how to be amorous - how ironic. You’re not even safe indoors anymore, if you’re staying in tonight it’ll cost you - the meal deal goes up a full 100% to £20! The thing about Valentines Day is that there’s an automatic assumption that it’s the preserve of couples. It’s the enclave of coupledom that puts partner love on a pedestal for a day as though it’s the king kong of love. It’s not - there’s love everywhere and sometimes the strongest love you feel is not necessarily the one with your life partner. It’s certainly a fickle type of love. You can love someone to death but then you split up and you hate them. Weird.

This year feels different, there is a definite gather in pace at the ‘anti valentines’ movement and all hail to that. There’s loads of things you can do around town ‘to escape all the couples’ where the focus is more about ‘friends and booze.’ Let’s face it, when you’re down and out and had your heart broken who’s the one person that never lets you down? Exactly, your best FRIEND. If you want to indulge the break up story further and see how some people interpret the pain of it all, check this out - in particular the stark self destructive reality presented so beautifully by Lora Mathis in her aptly titled ‘Ways I Hurt Myself to Hurt You’ series.

The anti valentine movement also has a very good sense of humour.

For those not feeling it, buy an anti valentines card - there’s plenty of brilliant ones out there.

With slogans such as:

‘you bring darkness and financial burden to my life.’

‘roses are red, chocolates are brown, you’re getting neither so calm the f*** down.’

‘Cupid is a lying ba*****'

‘love disappoints, pizza is eternal.’

‘Soon2BX’

‘I’m no cactus expert but I know a prick when I see one.’ I could go on but they’re very funny.

So, if you’re attached, married, single, exploring, seeing, dating, tindering, tinkering, whatever it may be or whatever you want to call it, remember that love is not exclusive to today. For me, there’s most joy and warmth in the unexpected displays of love on any given day - the being thought of when you least expect it. There’s very little when it's prescribed or compliant and especially when it’s main purpose is to pedal and propel industry and profit margins - that is not true love. Love is the thought, not the price and HIYOS could not put it better than this picture does.

A fitting picture for HIYOS

Now over to my friend Sunny who is guest blogging this week - he argues the case FOR - Sunny, it’s over to you.

IN PRAISE OF VALENTINE'S DAY by Sunny Mitra

I love, pun intended, Valentine's Day and as a man who is not only happy in his own skin but even happier to be guesting this week, why shouldn't I? Valentine's Day has taken a battering over the years, from cynical singletons; conspiracy theorists and historians alike, but it's a day of celebration which for many has lost it's meaning afer all these years, so I'm here as a man, a real man I'll have you know, one who lives on a diet of real man crisps like McCoy’s and Yorkie bars alone, to set the record straight.

It's a night out.

Who doesn't love a night out? Whether at the weekend or as an unexpected midweek jaunt - kids taken care of it’s a treat indulge yourself at a local restaurant, or if you've pushed the boat out and had the good sense to book early, somewhere like this: Clos Maggiore (from £100 for two with wine)

Simply stunning (and with a classical Provençal menu to match), as this photo shows, and uncannily looking just like my living room. If, unlike me, you have the chutzpah, to coin a phrase in Yiddish or as the Spanish say, the cojones (that's balls to you and me) to pop the question, what better place than in the resplendent grandeur of the self-proclaimed “world's most romantic restaurant” to do so?

It's all about cards, even if you're young, single or both.

If you're HIYOS when it comes to your relationship, why should you need a day to celebrate the fact, whilst simultaneously rubbing it in the faces of single people, critics will always argue.

The fact is, the feast of St. Valentine, whose origins are likely to date back to the end of the 5th Century, was neither created by marketeers nor invented by Geoffrey Chaucer. In truth, the former group have shaped the celebration of Valentine's Day as we know it, whilst the latter merely introduced the association of the day as a romantic one into the public's consciousness, where some 630 years later, it firmly remains.

The idea of exchanging Valentine's cards, something of a tradition which begins when we're schoolchildren, is one which includes single people and couples alike. What better way to show your love, unrequited or otherwise, than with one of these?

Whether you're a playground romantic, part of a long standing relationship where you can be frank or unashamedly cheesy with each other or simply suffer from what the French call 'la douleur excise,' or the acute pain of wanting the one you can’t have, there is a joy to giving and receiving cards on 14th February that no other festive day can match.

Because it's more than about saying it with flowers.

Whether you're an old fashioned dozen red roses in a bouquet kind of guy or a single rose between your teeth alpha male, flower prices and sales will invariably go through the roof thanks to Valentine's Day, with sod’s law dictating that petrol stations everywhere will be sold out (even of crusty, sad spray carnations), which curiously is never an issue on any of the other 364 days of the year.

No matter what stage of a relationship you're in, whether it's your first serious date or your 100th, Valentine's Day is one of few opportunities for you and your other half to let each other know what you mean to each other, by outdoing each other with romantic gestures perhaps, or to hatch that surprise you've been planning for months, unashamedly and proudly in the name of love. And on that note...

Some examples of the grandest romantic gestures in recorded history, from which to draw inspiration include the creation of the Taj Mahal as a monument of love by Shah Jahan after his wife died during childbirth (men, you're probably wondering why you haven't built that woman cave you've been planning or perhaps, taken her out for an Indian?) Also the building of the hanging gardens of Babylon (improvise and buy a few pre planted hanging baskets from a gardening centre instead).

It's quite extreme but he definitely loved her

So don't be hard on those of us whose love for Valentine's Day is unconditional and knows no bounds. If Valentine’s Day can teach us anything it is these few things: the pursuit of love is worth celebrating, in whatever way makes you and your partner happiest; from the sandbox to the grave, your card-giving game had better be on point and finally, flowers are temporary and will wilt away; whilst building projects are semi-permanent and something you may have to live with for years. Think about it.


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