Have you ever wondered how certain saints end up as patron saint of certain things?
Most people believe it is because of some event that happened during their lives – e.g., St Francis of Assisi had a pet gerbil, so he’s patron saint of animals. This is not, in fact, how it works. As in any other giant organisation you start at the bottom and work your way up. Thus for every saint who has a real top job, like St Vitus (patron saint of dance), or St Elmo (patron saint of fire) there is a junior with much smaller responsibilies, such as (& I’m not making this up) St Honorius of Amiens, the patron saint of bakers of holy wafers.
Those saints who opt for the Foreign Office section, becoming patron saints of countries, face a long trip to the top. St Patrick, for example, was patron saint of an iceberg, then a mudbank in the middle of the Mississippi, and finally the crater left by the meteorite that destroyed the dinosaurs before at last landing the plum Ireland job, where he got to banish snakes and get absolutely hammered every St Patrick’s Day.
St Valentine (ah, Tinman, at last we see the point of this) was patron saint of (& again, why would I need to make stuff up when the reality is comic gold such as this) plague, bee-keepers and fainting. I have thought long and hard about why we need a patron saint of fainting, and what he might be expected to do, but have come up with nothing. Anyway, when St Cupid was promoted to God of Love the role of Saint of Love became vacant. St Valentine applied for the post, and was called before the interview board.
It did not start well. The first part of the aptitude test was Romantic Poetry. Not only did St Val have absolutely no creative talent (yeah, yeah, very funny), he was also colour blind. His poem “Roses are green/Violets are white/your boyfriend says/you’re a bit of all right” did not score highly.
But if he shot himself in the foot with his poem, at least it was only in the figurative sense. Next up was Archery, where he was to show his prowess with Cupid’s Bow. As he drew back the bow, the string popped out of its nock (I’ve looked up Google, no-one has ever typed that phrase onto the internet before) and St Val pinned himself to the floor by his left foot. To add insult to this injury, the board decided that the expletive he uttered when this happened (“Fuck me”) was a more romantic effort than his poem had been.
And yet he prevailed. In the Chocolate test he invented the dark-red syruppy goo that goes in the centre of heart-shaped chocolates. In the Candlelight Dinner section he invented a spreadsheet using which restaurants could raise their prices by twenty per cent for the evening. Finally, in the Freestyle section he came up with the idea of the anonymous Valentine Card. A person who receives such a card can dream it’s from the long-legged blonde in HR, never knowing that it’s actually from the 60-year old gay guy in Accounts.
Impressed by all of this the board gave him the job, much to disgust of his rivals, St Halmark and St Tobleron, each of whom had plans of their own for the role. And in fairness he hasn’t done a bad job. His name is still remembered, the word “love” features in more songs than, say, “aubergine” or “tractor”, and on February 14th middle-aged, cynical, partly-metal men can still be surprised by being given a breakfast like this:
Happy St Valentine’s Day to you all.