Tag Archives: st valentine’s day

Just Not Your Day

Having your very own Day sounds great, but it isn’t.

St Stephen, the Martyr, got stoned on his, and not in a college-student type of way. St Swithin spends his Day sitting in the rain. On St Patrick’s Day Patrick drinks green beer, sings nonsense about how his eyes are smiling, and chases away snakes. There aren’t any snakes in Ireland, but it’s amazing what you imagine you can see after drinking green beer.

And on his own Day St Valentine has to work.

In fact he works all year round. Just as Santa spends the other 364 days supervising as the elves build next year’s stock of Barbies, Power Rangers and toys with which batteries are not included, St Valentine has planning meetings. He meets with St Hallmark, designing the following year’s cards, and trying to think of fresh endings to the verse that begins “roses are red, violets are blue”. He and St Cadbury decide exactly where in the box of chocolates to place the one containing the luridly pink goo. He and Pan decide which saccharine love-songs will be pan-piped onto the kind of CD which is not available in shops.

But the day on which he has to work hardest is his own Day.

Every year he and his assistant Cupid, a cherubic-looking cherub with a bow-and-arrow, go from overpriced restaurant to overpriced restaurant, looking for couples in the early stages of a relationship (say about the fourth date, just around the time when he is admitting to her that his family has a history of schizophrenia, and she is admitting to him that she is not, in fact, 29) and smiting them with love. St Valentine nods curtly at them, Cupid aims his bow, and true love strikes, usually between the shoulder-blades.

The song says that Love Hurts. This is why.

And when it’s all over Cupid heads back to Mrs Cupid (for some Angel Delight), and St Valentine goes home. Alone.

It’s like having your own birthday party, and being the only one not invited.

It isn’t easy for him to meet girls. His frankly silly name, the fact that he has to work on the most romantic day of all and the whole celibacy thing puts many of them off.

The celibacy thing is, in fact, a myth, otherwise where do the next generation of saints come from, but he never gets as far as explaining that.

The tale now arrives at this very evening. Just a couple of hours ago he was patrolling a restaurant that had oysters on the menu and My Heart Will Go On on the sound system, looking for couples to bond until death, when he saw her.

She had the face of an angel, the figure of Jessica Rabbit and the heart of a saint.

This is because she was a saint – St Maria, Patron Saint of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Their eyes met. She walked toward him with the misty-eyed look of romance, he walked toward her with the determined look of a man who hasn’t had it for a very long time.

Cupid looked at his boss, and smiled and raised the bow towards his back (well actually towards his left buttock, Cupid wasn’t very tall), but St Valentine pushed it away.

“I’ve got this covered,” he said. “After all, I’m the expert around here.”

Valentine and Maria met in the centre of the room, and smiled at each other. His first words weren’t the greatest chat-up line of all time, but they were apt.

“Go ahead,” he said, “make My Day.”

Without Words

*

At last week’s Writers Centre workshop one of the guys brought along a number of prompts, and we ended up with the broken plate. As we were leaving I picked another one and folded it way without looking at it. This is where I ended up…

It wasn’t a day he liked.

It was yet another day that re-inforced just how unpopular he was. Before his school days his parents had showered him with admiration for his intelligence, for his keen interest in how things worked and for his preference for David Attenborough over David Beckham.

They had told him that his glasses looked cool.

School taught him, as it should, though it taught him a lesson that it shouldn’t. It taught him that people who didn’t watch South Park were weird, that people who knew what the EU was were weird and that people who could point out the scientific impossibilities in the plotlines of Doctor Who were Geeks. In fact, if Geek were a country he’d have been King.

It also taught him that glasses were not cool. Since Crocs, plastic shoes with holes in them, were seemingly the height of cool then he felt that somehow he was winning that round, thought he had learnt not to say that for a second time.

Primary School gave way to Secondary School, boyhood gave way to puberty and unblemished skin gave way to a face like a pizza. The mockery gave way to mockery. The boys still slagged his taste in books (mainly the fact that he read them), his ignorance as to who Lionel Messi was, and his glasses. The girls ignored him, which was somehow worse.

And never was his isolation more keenly felt than on this day. A classmate would brag of receiving five cards, another would top it with a claim of six. He knew that this was just rubbish. The same boys used to boast back when they were all eight that they had eaten ten pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and he knew that it was impossible to eat more than five without throwing up.

He had proven this to himself by the empirical method.

But the fact is that they had all received some cards, and he had received none. Well, one, but he knew it was from his mum.

Today was the annual reminder that in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is laughed at.

He went into the class with the words “bet it’s from Natalie, she’s really into me” and “I think I got one from each of the twins” ringing in his ears. He told himself he didn’t care, but he knew deep down that he did.

He opened the lid of his school-desk to take out his book for the first class and saw the card inside. He opened it gingerly, half expecting it to loudly play the Laughing Policeman at him. It didn’t.

Inside was a fairly good caricature of himself and a short poem. The first two lines were the usual reference to botanical colouring, the last two said “I like Science and so do you”.

He looked around the class in astonishment. Nicola was blushing furiously. They were friends, or as near to a friend that he could have, they had been paired for a chemistry experiment and had proven that a particular mix of chemicals could produce a small explosion, though this was not what they’d been trying to prove.

He smiled over at her and she smiled shyly back.

They walked home together after school, her card in his bag, his card (hastily made during French) in hers. They talked about To Kill a Mocking Bird. She told him who Zac Efron was, he told her who Lionel Messi was (he’d known all along, the boys had just assumed that he wouldn’t).

They didn’t hold hands or anything (it would take many weeks before he would work up the courage to do that), but they talked, and laughed and at times just walked in comfortable silence, at ease with each other, and that would do for today, a day that he no longer hated.

And the prompt? Oh, it was “write about Valentine’s Day without mentioning these words: Valentine’s Day, Roses, Love, Flower, Heart, February, Cupid”.

First Love

Perhaps it was the return of birdsong in the mornings. Perhaps it was the buds beginning to appear on the trees. Perhaps it was the great earth-force of creation slowly wakening from its winter slumber. Perhaps it was a combination of all of these things that caused Adam, on this spring morning, to feel very romantic.

Or perhaps it was the way that parts of Eve swayed or bounced as she did her early-morning power-walk.

Anyway, Adam picked a large fig-leaf from a tree (until then he had been able to think of no possible for them), fashioned a pencil from a stick dipped in unicorn-poo and drew upon it. He folded it in half, then hid it behind his back as he walked to the clearing where Eve was.

She was now doing her early-morning sit-ups. Adam went and threw himself into the cold stream that ran through Eden.

When he came out she was finished. He presented her with the leaf.

“I made this for you,” he said, shyly.

Eve opened it and looked at what Adam had written inside.

“You’re the only girl in the world for me,” she read aloud. There was silence while the two of them looked around at the absolute beauty of Eden and its absolute lack of other girls. “It’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it?” said Eve. She closed over the card to look at the drawing on the front. “Is this supposed to be us?”

“Er, yes,” said Adam.

“Why are we teddy bears?”

“Dunno,” admitted Adam. “It just seemed traditional.”

“How can there be Tradition?” said Eve. “The world’s only existed for six months.”

“I know,” said Adam. “Look, I can’t explain it. I don‘t know what made me make the card, or draw us as teddy bears – it was nearly going to be puppies, by the way. I just know that I suddenly felt that we should have this one day each year when we are especially romantic to each other.”

“Romantic how, exactly?”

“We could watch the sun set,” said Adam, “or walk along a beach. Or,“ he ventured, “well, we are naked…”

Eve sighed. “Don’t you ever think of anything else?”

“Frankly, no,” said Adam, “because until God invents some sort of box where we can watch stories and the occasional documentary then there isn’t a whole lot else to think about.”

“Well, there must be more to romance than that,” said Eve.

“Actually,” said Adam, “I did make you these as well.” He handed her a box (a shell that he had temporarily borrowed from a startled tortoise) which contained a selection – no, an assortment – of small brown shapes that he had made from cocoa beans, sugar and the milk of a goat, the last of these having been obtained by a process that would give him nightmares for months to come.

He had filled some of them with hazelnut, some with caramel, and one, since this too seemed traditional, with a sickly-sweet lurid-pink goo.

Eve cautiously tasted one and the whole inside of her mouth seemed to explode as womankind and chocolate met for the very first time.

She looked at Adam with such fiery love that Adam took a step backwards.

“You wonderful, wonderful man!” she gasped. “And to think I got you nothing.”

She picked an apple from a nearby tree. “Here, have this,” she said.

Star Crossed Losers

On this most special of days, for the floral industry at any rate, it’s worth pausing for a few seconds to remember that not every couple is lucky in love.

  • Adam and Eve: As the first couple on earth, neither of them had a mother-in-law. On the other hand they had their home repossessed and one of their sons killed his brother, which just shows that there are worse things than mother-in-laws.
  • Rose and Jack: The Titanic was big. Like, really big (titanic, in fact). After it went down there really must have been loads of flotsam and jetsam floating and, er, jeating in the water, but they picked a plank only wide enough for her. The plank, in other words, wasn’t as thick as they were.
  • Oedipus and Jocasta: For the second time in less than a week I find myself having to use the acronym MILF. It can’t be easy when you find out that the MILF that you’ve married is in fact your own M. As cougars go, Jocasta takes some beating.
  • Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese. Sarah gives Jocasta a good run for her money, though.When the machines that rule the world in the future sent the Terminator back in time to kill resistance leader John Connor’s mother before John was born, John sent his friend Kyle back to protect her. He promptly got off with her, thus becoming John’s father, before dying heroically. Stuff like this will make great material for the best man’s speech at John’s wedding.
  • Tarzan and Jane: ok, he had a terrific bod and she didn’t have to do too much laundry, but it’s not easy living with someone who has a monkey as a friend, as Lisa Marie Presley will tell you. Plus that yodelly-yell of his must make you jump every time, no matter how often you hear it.
  • Edward & Mrs Simpson: he gave up being king to be with her, which was a shame, because it was the fact that he was king that attracted her to him the first place. His brother took the throne instead and is about to win an Oscar for his stammer, while all that is remembered about Edward and Wallis is that she had a dog called Gromit.
  • Love rat

    Prince Charming and Cinderella/Rapunzel/Sleeping Beauty/Snow White. I have to admit I’ve nicked this idea from Laughykate (thanks, honey, think of it as a Valentine’s Day gift), but let’s face it, the guy makes Tiger Woods look like a monk.

  • Samson and Delilah: She made him cut his hair. Once the woman starts to believe she can change the man, things can only go in one direction.
  • Troilus and Cressida: The only thing I know about this pair is that Shakespeare wrote a play about them which I’ve never read, but generally speaking if you are a couple and Shakespeare writes about you, then it’s unlikely that things have gone well in your lives.Which brings us neatly onto:
  • I'm down here

    Romeo and Juliet: Supposedly the greatest romance of them all, it’s like Meet the Fockers directed by Quentin Tarantino. A brief summary – boy meets girl, girl declares love from balcony, there’s some friction among the families, girl takes potion to make herself appear dead (as you do), boy thinks she’s dead so kills himself, girl wakes up from being fake-dead, finds out boy is dead, so kills herself. In other words, they were both mental. Can you imagine if they’d had kids?

And in case I appear too cynical, a story to make you go “aww” to finish. I gave Mrs Tin her card this morning as we were dashing about getting me ready for the bus, but didn’t get one back. This didn’t bother me, I figured I’d get one this evening.

I got my bus and, as I always do, took out my netbook to begin writing today’s drivel. My card was in the little netbook case.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Mrs Tin.

Labour of Love

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.