Hello everyone. In case you didn’t know, it’s Valentines Day on Thursday. Cue: a whole lot of people talking/Tweeting/Facebooking*/Carving into slate tablets etc about how Valentines Day is a Great Big Ball Of Commercialised Over Sentimental Tacky Hallmark Sponsored Codswallop. (I’m paraphrasing; nobody uses the word ‘codswallop’ any more…but they totally should.).
Yes, it is annoying that the windows of most high street shops have suddenly been dyed various alarming shades of pink. Yes, its depressing that whatever poor soul has the job of designing the 99p store’s ‘seasonal stock’ thinks that a pair of ‘amusingly’ sloganed boxers that look and feel as though they have been made out cellophane would genuinely make a good love token (although, let’s give them some credit here, £1/99p shops are popping up everywhere and are kinda the high-street champion of the recession…). And don’t even get me started on those Moonpig adverts with the bad-80s-porno soundtrack and deep husky voiceover that is probably aiming for ‘smooth’ but overshoots drastically and lands at ‘sex pest’. But, honestly, those of you who bellyache about how awful and tacky the whole thing is are just as annoying – potentially more annoying – than those who overtake newsfeeds and lunchtime conversations every 12th-16th Feb by wittering on about how totally in love they are with their fluffy wuffy smoochums. If anything, at least in recent years, there are more people moaning about V-Day than there are emitting delighted squeaks of smushy-wuv.
Yep, I agree that you “shouldn’t need a Hallmark-sponsored holiday to show someone you love them”. Guess what? NO ONE IS SAYING THAT YOU DO. Plenty of couples show each other that they love each other every day. Generally, though, Most Average People don’t really have the time, money, or energy to spend on Big Fancy Romantic Gestures on a regs basis. For Most Average People, ‘showing each other that they love each other every day’ probably goes along the lines of listening to each other’s stories about their day, snuggling up together on the sofa with a DVD, and having sex despite the fact she’s not wearing matching underwear. (Because come on, who really can be dedicated enough to wear matching underwear every day. I mean, really? Tell me I’m not alone on this one, ladies.) My point is, if you do Big Special Romantic Things like:…
– Wearing lovely beautiful sexy but drastically uncomfortable underwear (complete with suspender belt and stockings and handcuffs and all the rest of that fairly vanilla stuff that anyone who enjoyed ’50 Shades of Grey’ thinks counts as ‘Kinky/S&M’, LOL),
– Going for a meal at the type of restaurant where you can’t tell if your Significant Other is making ‘gooey eyes’ at you out of love, because the candle smoke is getting in their eyes, or because the massively overpriced entrees are making them cry a little bit,
– Buying cute ickle teddies holding fluffy wuffy hearts for each other,
– Writing love poetry (“NB. Roses are red, violets are blue, I suck at poems, NICE TITS LOL” does not count as love poetry. It is funny though),
…ALL THE TIME, then they’re not really that Big or Special or Romantic anymore. And for us Average People out there, sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to up the ante a bit when it comes to that hideously complex ritual we call ‘courtship’.
Its also a chance to have a little fun. Last year I sent a handful of my fabulous Single Ladies ‘anonymous’ cards, complete with a ‘riddle’ which they could use to decipher my identity. Although they had probably guessed from my awful handwriting long before they got to the end of my “My first is in X, and also in Y…” type rhyme. At uni, in first year, some of my female friends and I raided the £1 shop for hilariously-tacky-but-also-vaguely-relevant ‘gifts’ for some of the guys we were in halls with (including a Dog Grooming Glove and some lube for a guy who supposedly masturbated a lot, and a dangly feathery cat toy for a guy who…um…I can’t really remember what our reason for that choice was, but anyway at the time it was hee-LAIR-ious). Another year, we got a card for a male housemate of ours who was a little bit in love with Gary Barlow, and wrote it out as if it were from the G-Baz himself. This year, I’m visiting my sister at uni on the 15th, and planning on making heart-shaped chocolates – with a few of them containing something nasty, like a chilli pepper or something, we haven’t quite ironed out the details – for a kind of Valentines-themed roulette-style drinking game. See. V day is not just for people who are joining themselves to other people by means of their sexy-bits.
One last thing – Valentine’s Day wasn’t actually invented by a shadowy figure named Lord Hallmark, rubbing his hands together gleefully at his newfound way to strip the coupled-up masses of their hard earned dubloons. It’s been around for ages. The most common lore surrounding the origins of Love Day relates to a chappy called Saint Valentinus, who was locked up for performing weddings for people who couldn’t get married, like soldiers. Or Christians. Yup. Straight Christians. Who weren’t allowed to marry. Because Valentinus was just a Nice Kind Of Guy who didn’t think that it was fair that something as fundamental as a person’s entire belief system (which they would rather die for than renounce – Christians were getting slaughtered left right and centre at this point, BECAUSE: ROMANS.) should stop two people who were in love from getting married. ZING. Topical. I should probably be writing a blog about that instead of this, but all of the important (and true) stuff has already been written by people much more intelligent and eloquent than myself.
Anyway, then Chaucer went and wrote a rather lovely poem about events which happen on Valentines Day, called Parlement of Foules, about the tradition of courtly love. (Trust me, stick with it, when I first started to read it as part of my degree course it did my brains in, but I quickly learnt to love it.) Anyway, it would be weird to turn such a scatterbrained blog post as this into something intellectual this near to the end, so suffice it to say that ‘courtly love’ basically involved the gentlemen and noblewomen of the court doing things like composing love poems and sending tokens of their admiration to one another, and occasionally going off to fight a ruddy great dragon to honor their sweetheart, probably. Chaucer’s Parlement mostly consists of a dream sequence in which the dreaming narrator passes through a heavenly garden, and witnesses some man birds talking it up to win the hearts of some lady birds. (NB – not ladybirds). And the poem was written to honour the engagement of a couple of 15 year old royals. I bet Kate and Wills didn’t get a really lovely epic-avian-slightly-trippy-dream-sequence poem as an engagement present.
So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re planning to get all Valent-whiney this year, please just jam your hype instead**.
Peace and Fucking.
*I am genuinely feeling quite uneasy about the fact that I used ‘Facebooking’ as a verb.
**Dear friends – please don’t take this personally, or as a personal attack, or anything of that ilk…it is, like many of my C&A posts, intended in the most light-hearted of ways…
And finally, some potentially really geeky Valentines themed pictures that I like, because *squeeeeeeee*: