As I write, it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and already my wife and I have had a minor disagreement.
We’d just finished a work meeting in Mimi’s Café on The Shore and I was paying for the coffees. As I got the money out, I thought to myself “This is my only chance to get her something for Valentine’s Day. I’ll just tell her to go home because I’ve got some messages to do.”
Literally, as this flashed through my brain, my wife said “You should just go home now because I’ve got some messages to do.” We looked at each other hard then we both started laughing. “Right,” I said, “you go and get yours first.” She said “No, you get yours first.” Then she said “Wait, this is stupid. We’ll both go.”
Which is how we the pair of us ended up in Flux, with our backs to each other, looking for a card and a little something to give each other on February 14. How ridiculous is that? It got me thinking: is Valentine’s Day yet another pointless festival of crass commercialism like Christmas and Easter? Or do we actually secretly love it. There’s no way of knowing the answer to that without doing some research, so I Facebooked the question to my friends and I’m delighted I did because here’s what they said . . .
Marie: “I’ve always associated travel with romance although in practice it’s never really gone to plan. Ed booked a surprise Valentine’s trip to Budapest for us – a long weekend. It was icy-cold with a metre of snow but we had fun in the Szechenyi outdoor spa.
“Our honeymoon, on the other hand, was probably the most failed of highly-anticipated romantic episodes. Ed had read somewhere that it was the groom’s prerogative to book the honeymoon so that kind of wrote the story. He booked a ‘James Bond-Style’ honeymoon - Edinburgh to Moscow, then Moscow to St Petersburg then from there to Lake Como. The trip from Moscow to St Petersburg sounded amazing! We had 1st class golden Wonka-style tickets and it was the Midnight Express! I was convinced it would be From Russia with Love starring me. Oh, and Ed. We walked up the platform for ages and finally spotted our carriage, right at the front. We clambered in excitedly clutching our golden tickets and were shown our cabin. There were two seats facing each other. I looked around for the hidden door to our own en-suite bathroom and bedroom. I quickly realised this was it. Our knees touched romantically. I asked the guard in bad Russian, ‘where are the beds?’. Turned out we were sitting on them. The long trip to St Petersburg was punctuated by a small Japanese tourist in various states of undress who kept bursting into our cabin thinking it was his.
Maggie (my wee sister): “I was locked up for the night in Partick Police Station the day before Valentine’s Day for throwing a bag of flour at a Tory big beast, Michael Heseltine, during a student protest in the Thatcher years. When my boyfriend Alan found out, he ran all the way from his flat to the police station (he was skint). He brought me some Turkish Delight, a Morrisey album and a homemade card.”
Willy Barr: “I once took a girlfriend to the pub for a Valentine drink. When we left (about 9pm) I suggested we go for a walk. We were at Cramond and I persuaded her we could walk out to the island (it wasn’t cold and the tides were perfect). When we got to the island we sat on the beach. I had a flask of cocoa in my backpack and some chocolate-covered shortbread. I’d even packed a small fleece rug, a torch and gloves for her. We had a nice night and it was only when we walked back to shore I realised she’d left my gloves and my favourite flashlight lying on a rock – and the tide was now coming in. I was so pissed off that she could be so reckless! She continued to be reckless and two years later agreed to marry me. She’s still my beautiful, reckless wife.”
Andrew: “I cooked a three-course meal for my then girlfriend, candles on the table, flowers and chocolates, everything to show her what she meant to me. After she ate the dessert her words were ‘I suppose you expect sex now’.”
Kirsten: “I always got a Valentine’s card every year from my Gran – it was obvious it was from her. She never disguised her handwriting and it became a family joke. But one Valentine’s there was a knock at the door and on the doorstep was a big bunch of white roses. We lived in 14-storey building and I saw someone running down the stairs so I decided to chase after them. They were too fast even for me. As an 11-year-old, I was properly in love! But it turned out it was my dad – I could tell from the handwriting. To this day he’s never admitted it though. And to this day white roses are my favourite flowers.
Beatrice: “I once got a Valentine’s Day card from Dr Bywaters from the TV series General Hospital. It was sent by my grandfather. I don’t know why I felt such love for this particular doctor. He had a moustache and that’s not normally my thing. But then, I was only nine and so I probably didn’t really know what my thing was. Anyway, once I received the card I cried and screamed the house down because I genuinely thought he had found out where I lived and was in love with me!
Derek: “My wife Joan once baked me a cake which was dimensionally very similar to my impressive instrument (a tuba).”
Catherine Louise Jones (to her old boyfriend, Alex): “I do remember that you finished with me on Valentine’s Day. I threw a strawberry cheesecake at you but unfortunately you ducked and it splattered down the wall. Happy days!”
Pam: “One of my first boyfriends took me to see a re-release of The Exorcist on Valentine’s Day. The cinema was empty, unsurprisingly. I was really chuffed, though. I was just about to go and study film at uni and I’d never seen it before. Plus, cliched romance is overrated, as far as I’m concerned. This was far more thoughtful and enjoyable. My best Valentine’s moment by far, though, was having my daughter on February 14. It gave a whole new meaning to true love.”