Updated: Feb 15
Since last weekend, I have received messages to splash out for Valentine’s and spend £30 on great wine because it is time to open a special bottle. Sexy suppers can be delivered to homes for ‘dinners à deux’ made by top chefs in legendary London restaurants like Richard Corrigan’s Michelin-starred Bentley’s, or a three-course meal kit from The Wolseley delivered nationwide, afternoon tea from Claridge’s (see the 'dine at home' options) and Ottolenghi will deliver a brunch kit for two, and so on. We are to treat ourselves to things we wouldn’t normally consider because it’s tricky to celebrate Valentine’s Day in lockdown.
I did a search for how many people in the UK are single and half of the first page was populated with dating sites, perhaps wanting to un-do people’s single status?
In a world that encourages inclusivity, some today might say the incessant advertising of Valentine’s Day is insensitive. Not being a couple doesn’t mean we can’t avail of any of the above, eligibility isn’t checked (yet). Some advertising shared with me has bordered on the absurd (funny absurd) e.g. my window cleaner told me he ordered product a week ago and was congratulated for ordering the piece for his ladder in time for Valentine’s Day, as was my brother-in-law when he ordered a clothes line. Society is being rewarded for being good Valentine’s Day soldiers.
I live on my own. I like it, luckily. My sense of belonging and inclusion is with my sister and her family. Most days she and I walk and talk together and make each other laugh. Yesterday we went back to her house to watch the tail end of the England vs Italy match and then the Scotland Wales game. The fire was lit and her lovely husband and children and I joined together in spontaneous shouting at the telly in the last excruciating minutes of the latter. I am part of their family and they are mine.
During lockdown, people who’d normally take trains to London four–five times a week are not missing those early-morning commutes, but many are missing the company of their beloved office colleagues. Is this a sort of love?
I read that making someone a cup of tea without them asking is the grandest gesture at the moment however there must be pressure to ‘up’ the game with suggestions to splash out coming at us from all angles. If you don’t want to order in, Gordon Ramsay’s has shared top romantic recipes for date nights, all very easy to follow.
One greeting in our WhatsApp book club group. Love is all around us.
Another family member, Diana, started writing poems last year, a couple of which are on my blog; she has a sharp eye! I asked her for her thoughts about the commercialism of Valentine’s Day and she replied the next day to say that she’d woken with the thought of Dicken’s Scrooge and his three visiting Ghosts of the Christmas - Past Present and Future. It triggered this poem, “thinking of Victorian Valentines in the first verse and Richard Branson in the last….” And she wondered if “maybe a bit of Martin Luther King’s anger could be directed nowadays at the superficial emoting that buries our basic values.”
I have a dream….
I have a dream each Valentine’s eve.
Three ghosts leave me their card:
Valentine Past, is a simpering miss,
ignoring her shouldn’t be hard.
Valentine Present is trying to swim.
He’s drowning (though waving some flowers)
his hand sticks out through the glutinous spray
as he chokes in its chocolate showers.
Valentine Future is wearing a space-suit,
his commercial trip’s travelling to Mars;
his gilded cards are expensive tickets
to a sugary death in the stars.
Happy Valentine’s Day and bon appetite.
P.S. I’ve just remembered it’s my brother’s birthday. His name is Tom.