Dear St. Valentine,
Thanks a bunch, mate.
Thanks for the makeshift stand of gaudy red sweets taunting me as I queue at the supermarket, a basket of single ingredients swinging in my hand.
Thanks for the restaurants with their dusted off blackboards, chalky roses flaking in the February wind, beckoning thrifty lovers through their doors.
Thank you for giving the unromantic a day to borrow other people's idea of love, and for the lonely to wear their loneliness as self-consciously as a new haircut, both wanting the world to notice, and not.
Enough people thank you for commercialising romance. I won't thank you for that.
But thank you, really, for the time I stood in the corner of a nightclub in 2002, and when a beautiful girl in a blue dress came over to ask my name, I leaned in to hear her over the music and accidentally head-butted her instead.
Thank you for the time when I was 13 and watching fireworks with a girl who wanted me to kiss her, but I just sat there, petrified, until she left.
Thank you for the time at university I tried to impress a group of girls by lighting a match off my teeth but set my own face on fire - the head of the match stuck to my lip like a passionate kiss. As it happens, that was the closest I got to one for weeks.
Thank you for making love such a hard gift to receive, let alone give.
Thank you depriving some people of any, and giving others more than their share.
Thanks for making us drink two bottles of wine alone in our pants with the curtains drawn looking through old Facebook photographs singing along to Adele's 'Someone Like You' until the neighbours start screaming: keep it down in there.
Thanks for taking our friends away, then sending them back in bits.
Thanks for Love Actually and Maid In Manhattan and Celine Dion's Greatest Hits.
But most of all St. Valentine, thanks for your 'special day'.
When half the population pour panicked into flower shops, and the other half just feel vaguely upset.
When your wilting garage bucket roses and crinkled heart balloons scream only regret, regret, regret.
Happy Valentine's Day!
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