A day longed for by many, fizzing with champagne and flowers and hopes and promises, and one shrugged off by others, usually those in stoutly sensible lace-ups and crackly anoraks.
‘A load of romantic nonsense!’ they say, indicating, with a chuck of their square chin, that such an unrealistic, time-consuming and pocket-emptying affair should remain ‘over there somewhere’ and dare to move no closer.
Their wives think differently, of course. They have grown weary of being realistic over the years and might rather appreciate the odd attempt, however odd, at an indication that this man with whom they have walked through most of their lives, does, in fact, realise they are a fully paid up member of the female species, and that, beneath that crackly and efficient exterior, there beats a soft, gentle and loyal heart.
Although this heart feels, most of the time, like a rather unattractive pulsation of tubed-up offal, it could glow again, with the smallest gift, the tiniest whisper of proffered affection, and I don’t mean an emaciated clutch of terminally ill carnations bought from the local garage and dumped on the kitchen table.
‘We don’t do things like that.’ they say, these men as if it was a good thing and one ‘we’, at a certain point, grow out of, along with wetting the bed and playing conkers.
I ask them ‘Why not?’ which is always my favourite question when someone says they don’t do this or that, because, in the main, they have absolutely no idea or have quite forgotten why, having ‘not done’ that thing for a very long time. Then they pull back a little, in case whatever I am showing signs of might be catching, and, at the same time, their sensible wives pull forward as if hoping that it is.
We do celebrate Valentine’s Day, still, after over 40 years. I am not saying I have felt much like it at times, nor I imagine has he, but one of us at least has not allowed romance to starve to death over time, and I am glad of it, because what we have not lost is the fun in a marriage, and, to be honest, if there isn’t fun then it is just a life sentence.
However, fun does not appear by magic, it is a delicate plant that needs daily attention. Not bothering is so much easier. We women will always rise ourselves up from any ashes that come our way, but we can only do so much rising once the rust sets in. As we watch others being bought fresh flowers or taken out to dinner, or being told how wonderful/pretty/clever they are, we know we want the same. Our problem is that we have forgotten how to ask for it.