It's that time of year again: the minivan flower-sellers are out, Clinton's shop-fronts glisten, red-glittered and teddy-beared, on the high street and you can't buy your M&S lunch without having to skirt the mountain of champagne bottles in the walkway (how very middle-class, daaarling).
Oh yes, what a wonderfully lovey-dovey, cuddly-wuddly time of year, a chance to snuggle down with a glass of plonk in front of a roaring gas fire and Love Actually. An opportunity to spend some quality time with your partner/spouse/family member/dog/cat/Xbox/that-bloke-from-Take-That's discarded fag butt you traded your Discman for, back in 1994.
However, if you're the humbug type, like me, who really couldn't give a toss about spending an outrageous amount of money on stuff you can buy any other time of the year for half the price, then here's some alternative ways to spend the most romantic day of the year:
- Take the kids/dog/rabbit/gran to the park. Go on. They'll appreciate it and the fresh air will do you all good.
- Sort through your paperwork. File your bank statements, shred old documents, or maybe check your credit agreements for PPI (because you can totally do it yourself). Keeping on top of your paperwork means not only are you ensuring all your important documents and policies are up-to-date, but that they are stored safely and easy to find should you need them.
- Visit the dentist. If you get it over and done with today, you might be lucky enough not to have to go again for another six months. And you'll have nice clean chops ready for a non-obligatory, post-Valentine's Day smooch.
- Following a similar vein, you could also pop to the doctors to finally get that ingrown toe-nail/dodgy knee/suspicious mole looked at. Although frankly, if you do genuinely have a mole you're worried about, don't wait till Valentine's day to go to the doctor's - DO IT RIGHT NOW.
- Change that faulty lightbulb in the kitchen and wash the car. Or, if all of your lightbulbs are in full working order and your car was cleaned last Thursday, you could always hoover behind the fridge or polish your doorknob (no pun intended).
- Check your oil and windscreen wash levels, brake pads, and your tyre treads and pressures. Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure is not only an important safety measure but will contribute to your fuel efficiency too. And you don't want to be halfway down the motorway when a lorry sprays your windscreen with mud but tweaking the lever only deposits a tiny puddle of wash at the bottom of your vision. Not. Good.
- Download anti-virus software onto all of your internet-enabled devices. THAT MEANS YOUR PHONE TOO. It's scary the percentage of people who routinely access personal (including financial) data on their phones, yet have no form of anti-virus protection to shield them from cyber-attacks.
- Finally, if all that seems far too energetic and you have an hour or two while the kids are at school - watch TV. One of the benefits of it being Valentine's Day is that there tend to be a few good films on, so pop the kettle on, put your feet up and enjoy.