St Valentine's, it's that time of year when Christmas seems like a lifetime ago and summer seems like a lifetime away. February is always a HARD month to cope with.
It's like the drunken lull when you're in a taxi on the way home after a really good night or like the mid afternoon hangover that suddenly comes and hits you over the head after a really amazing night.
In fact, it's like any thing that reminds you that life isn't all nightclubs full with tequila shots and short skirts, or pubs stacked with bottles of beer and football shirts. Sometimes life gets in the way of us having fun and the only way we can break the monotony of dull and grey, day to day February, is by dressing it up in red ribbon, throwing chocolate covered hearts at it and imagining fat little half naked cherubs firing arrows of love at us.
St Valentine has come to get us, and this time he's not taking no for an answer.
I've researched St Valentine, (and there are a few of the loved up Lotharios) and like anyone who supersedes others and sticks in our consciousness, the one we celebrate and get down on one knee for on February 14th has a rather sketchy past. Not much is known about him except for where he is buried and that he was born on April 16th, so quite why we celebrate him two months before his birth date and then say it with flowers, cheap perfume and condoms is anyone's guess?
St Valentine is supposed to signify love, romance, passion and post coital cuddling but in reality he represents the prose on a Hallmark greetings card, over priced and uninspired set menus and maybe a little extra foreplay (if you're lucky). How many of us truly believe in a little thing called love when we've been forced to sleep in the wet spot or turn a blind eye to someone's drunken flirting? Valentine's day for many represents a day of masking a seething anger and trying desperately not to turn a romantic meal into the Valentines Day Massacre.
A fistful of roses can be just as useful as a bouquet of barbed wire, it just depends on what vase you stick them in.
I can imagine that for some, Valentine's Day offers hope. I think the last time I was full of hope on Valentines day I was about fourteen years old and waiting for the postman to authenticate my belief that I was the third best looking boy in the school by delivering a sack full of cards through my door. As it turns out, I only received two and my ranking dropped down to the late teens. As you can tell, my school was low on academia but high on personal appearance. It was also an all-boys school and I received two cards, you don't have to be a genius to figure out why my admirers didn't reach double digits.
I don't know what Valentines means to me now. It's been two years since my last relationship and the only cards I will send will be to my ex and his dog. I bought the cards from a quaint little card shop in an upmarket enclave of South East London (there are such places, you don't have to go North for posh frocks and fine dining) and when the sweet woman behind the counter said 'are they for your wife or your girlfriend' and I replied 'no, they are for my ex boyfriend and his dog', let's just say she looked like Cupid had shot her between the eyes with a flaming devils horn.
Romance is alive and kicking in South East London, it's just only available in card form for a very select few.
I'm not expecting any cards, champagne, roses or even frantic, passionate sex this year. I'll probably spend the evening alone and cook myself a meal for one and then open a case of wine for twenty. I have no great hopes or faith that cupid has an arrow with my name on it and I don't think I'll be cuddling up to anything more than my lap top and a giant Toblerone, but I'm actually fine and I'm at peace with it.
This year I shall think that like puppies are at Christmas time, a Valentine is for a life time.
So I'll just wait for the right one to come along.