I can pretty much say I don’t have any particularly stand out memories of Valentine Days gone by. Well, one year I did get roses interflora’d to my work. That was pretty special, but by and large for me – and apparently for a lot of Generation Whatever – it is just another day in the year.
With 365 perfectly good days to eat a set menu and smooch in public, converse to that forte of couples, the PDA (Public display of Affection), Valentine’s Day is mostly seen as an unwarranted hallmark holiday.
Embarrassingly, this year saw Alun and I blushing at our respective bosses as we handed over holiday sheets, muttering something about needing a Tuesday in February off. With the double achievement of making it to 12 whole months together (one of us deserves a medal etc…) and 24 hours later squaring up to the most traditionally romantic day of the year, it felt like a pretty good reason for a day free of email and bad posture.
Although with most couples I know staying home for a quiet night together or skipping the 14th entirely, it seemed more than indulgent to be taking the day off but then again when was the last time you celebrated anything in these austere times, never mind celebrated your relationship?
Are we so embarrassed by a bit of schmaltz; we, the touchy-feely-metrosexual-hug-it-out generation? Does our vicarious preference for reality shows mean we have distanced ourselves so much from our own lives, so much so that it seems inconceivable to ‘live in the moment’ and make a bit of a fool of yourself for someone else? Shouldn’t it be some guy on Channel 4’s latest reality fad doing that?
It’s clichéd now to say you don’t do much for Valentine’s Day. As the girl you can look modest; as the guy can just you look cheap, but there has grown up a lack of clarity around Valentine’s day which makes it a difficult day to gauge a level on it. What are we celebrating here? Is it still Love with a capital L? or rather how generous you can be on a non seasonal/birthday occasion? Each half of the couple participating in furthering romantic tradition that has become anything but traditional. A more impressive surprise; a better card; a bigger bouquet. Defying the austere rationing spirit we are supposed to be embracing, unwittingly competing against one another, sinking hard earned cash to prove something you know already to the person who already knows it.
Last year when still boyfriend free, Nicki and I and some other friends went out for drinks and celebrated a Monday in February. It was nice until the bartender revealed himself as Austerity Cupid and passed out paper lovehearts he had printed crudely on A4. The poor man’s valentine. Red wine not included.
Is romance dead then or just in a non growth year? Is it better to say to your sweetheart, ‘I don’t buy into this hallmark holiday’ or regardless of your feelings about it, carpe diem February 14th by sending a kiss-o-gram to work, greet them later with rosepetals scattered on the floor, pink fizz in hand?!
However austere the cut backs on romance, my 48 hours of unrestricted schmaltz was very nice but marked a milestone more than the reddest day of the year, after Comic Relief.
Perhaps along with benefits and NHS funding, romance was defined in the public austerity measures somewhere deep in the back of the Chancellor’s budget. Maybe it is another of the little things we are learning to do without in favour of just getting by.