THE BLOG

Valentine's Day Is Over for Another Year - Thank God

17/02/2014 13:07 GMT | Updated 18/04/2014 10:59 BST

At last, Valentine's Day is over. Again.

It's just so predictable. No sooner is Christmas wrapped up do journalists fast-forward to the next big calendar event. Every year, commuters' reading matter veers from Santa to romance quicker than you can say 'January weight loss'.

Before you know it, it'll be summer and time for dozens of column inches on fake tan. Then back to Christmas and comfort food before St Valentine rocks up again on his tired old steed, regular as clockwork and pointless as Cupid's figleaf.

Last week the Standard's Rosamund Urwin declared war on the 'showmance' of V-Day. But does the most pointless festival of the year even merit a war cry? Surely it's time to ignore it altogether.

Let's face it - the idea that we need an entire day to celebrate romance is increasingly redundant. Romantic relationships are already revered by society 365 days a year. Every pop song, every film, every advert, every day; we're constantly bombarded with messages that tell us to be in a couple or perish alone. The cliché is entrenched and unavoidable.

And yet the nation's love affair with Valentine's Day persists. Research commissioned by Travelodge suggests that Britons spent £880m yesterday on Valentine's Day activities and paraphernalia. If you don't think that sounds much, try saying it a different way. Yesterday, British people spent over double the gross domestic product of Tonga on flowers, chocolate and cheap underwear.

It gets worse. Research by the website Give As You Live shows that Londoners - that's me, by the way - planned to spend £61 each on V-day this year. That's nearly 40% of the total money sucked up by the romance industry on 14 February. It's the same as eight days of unlimited travel on a Pay As You Go Oyster card, twelve lunches at Pret, or three bottles of mid-price gin - all on one mediocre evening.

It's ludicrous that otherwise sane, rational people can invest so much emotional and financial capital in a day that they know is designed to fleece the consumer. More ludicrous still that we persist, despite the fact that everyone - single, attached, or 'it's complicated' - has a terrible time on Valentine's Day.

V-Day restaurants and bars are packed with couples sweating under the pressure of it all - the new ones trying desperately to fit the roles assigned to them by society and OK Cupid, and the long-termers attempting to rekindle a spark long since replaced by mutual respect, trust, and an established bins rota.

The food is more expensive and consequently more disappointing. Tables are jammed so closely together that couples can pick up tips for future break-up conversations from their neighbours. The waiters are miserable. Everything turns pink or red for the night, and meanwhile singletons are effectively trapped in their homes by the shambling hordes of the loved-up on the streets.

Because what's the alternative? Valentine's Day may be a terrible idea, but the spin-offs are worse. The fall of V-Day on a Friday this year meant that our Facebook feeds became clogged with self-deludingly 'ironic' anti-Valentine's Day parties. Their sinister American counterparts, 'Shred The Ex' parties, are said to have made it to UK shores in time for V-Day 2014. After all, nothing says "I reject the widespread cultural fetishisation of romance" quite like spending an entire evening complaining about the demise of your last relationship.

Now V-Day is over, the first mutterings about the charmingly sexist 'Steak And A Blowjob Day' can begin. The original anti-Valentine's event for men was created by American DJ Tom Birdsey (AKA 'Captain Misogyny') in 2002. The idea is that because Valentine's Day is 'for women' (and therefore bad), men should be treated to an equivalent romantic event exactly one calendar month later. On 14 February, women get flowers and to talk about their feelings in crowded restaurants. On 14 March, their partners get red meat and uncontroversial sex acts. So much for gender parity.

No, no, no. The only way to defeat the utter grimness of modern Valentine's Day is to ignore it completely. And that's my last word on the matter.

Until next year.