Valentine's Day: A manifesto

Heart | Laughing heart

I support Valentine’s Day for the simple reason that some people need to be prompted to demonstrate appreciation for their partners.

Clearly once a year isn’t a great average to show your love but it’s at least it’s a start.  

Also, what harm can it do? Seriously? It’s not like we’re experiencing way too much love in the world and we really need to scale back.

Of course you should demonstrate appreciation for the people you love all year round, preferably daily, with kind words, thoughtful gestures and puddings. But sometimes life gets in the way and before you know it, it's Valentine's Day and you're buying a heart-shaped balloon on a stick from the supermarket on the way home from work hoping you’ve ticked the box.

Crappy gifts actually suggested by stores this year include (I'm not going to link to them because I truly don't want you to buy them)

I encourage my readers to view Valentine’s Day as the dawn of a new age: an age in which you won’t let a year go by before you think to demonstrate your appreciation with a crappy gift.

Try to give a gift which genuinely demonstrates care for them. For example:

The riddle of the mug

I went out with a really strange person, just as I was finishing my degree.

He was good-looking, charming. Not my usual type. We went on a few walks, went to the cinema, held hands. I went to watch him perform as an extra in a play. I heard some stories which made me suspect that he wasn't being entirely honourable but he was just good looking enough that it was possible to ignore them.

He turned up at my birthday party, a beach party, with a gift. A mug wrapped in a plastic bag.


It was a porcelain mug with a table of imperial to metric conversions printed on it.

Because I had no confidence at the time, I was polite and grateful when it was presented, but I thought privately: ‘Why did he give me such a rubbish, thoughtless gift?’ After all, we talked about the arts!

On serious reflection, maybe it was I who talked about the arts. He just swung his head melodramatically from looking brooding and quizzical to looking pensively into middle distance. Maybe I'd misinterpreted him.

Back to the mug.

Giving me the gift of a mug was puzzling, but giving me a mug with a numerical table on it was completely inappropriate.

He left the party early. My friends and I huddled around the mug, passing it between us, trying to work out what it meant.

It was £7.99 the label told us - he could have bought a book for less. Or a beaded necklace. Or a pretty notebook. We knew that he'd bought it from a shop in the middle of town, and, from later investigations, I learnt that this range of mugs was displayed on the top shelf of a dusty cabinet at the back of the store. He must have searched for a while. He must have passed all of the other slightly more interesting gifts en route.

But then, in the spark of imagination which is only experienced by an English literature student looking for meaning in the apparently meaningless, I realised he'd given me this gift because I was the mug.

The mug was his way of saying that the relationship was over.

Perhaps a doormat would have been more appropriate.