In 2017 ‘The Year Of Armageddon’ let’s use Valentine’s Day to spread a little love
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
I really didn't want to do this. I did everything in my power to resist. I trawled through the depths of my mind to find something – anything – that would allow me to avoid it.
But in the end, I just had to give in. Everything was against me: time, desperation, pressure to conform to the expected, and the inevitability of the little calendar at the bottom of my screen that ticked down the minutes towards the date.
At any moment, I expected a small flurry of pink and red hearts to erupt from the Taskbar.
So yes, I gave in. This is a column about Valentine's Day.
In my defence, the choices of subject matter were fairly bleak, after all.
I could write about Brexit. I could write about Trump.
But what is there to be said that hasn't already been said, at great length, on social media?
- 1 House swap sees woman move into home infested with fleas
- 2 M&S to close 32 stores as part of move away from town centres
- 3 £3,000 worth of beauty products stolen from Sainsbury's store
- 4 Your chance to meet The Bill star who has moved to Norfolk
- 5 Eight-bed detached house in NR3 up for auction for £300k
- 6 Woman with incurable cancer left devastated after car and jewellery stolen
- 7 Sweet Briar Road 'still on track' to reopen by end of May
- 8 Party in the Park coming to Norwich with global food, stalls and music
- 9 High-end boutique reopens in its former shop
- 10 Norwich man wins jackpot on BBC game show Pointless
February is a dismal month at the best of times, beaten only by January in the 'broke, chubby and permanently cold' stakes.
The last thing that's needed is a rehash of everything that's making it worse – which, depending on your point of view, is either our descent into Armageddon or people whining about our descent into Armageddon.
Somewhere, surely, in all of this, there has to be a single ray of sunshine amidst the midwinter maudlin.
I wasn't expecting to find it in Valentine's Day.
I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of it all.
The concept is great: a celebration of love is, on the face of it, a very simple and heartwarming idea.
I enjoy it for this, yes. But as with everything, the great consumerist bandwagon rolls on earlier each month, and by the time the date comes around, I feel I'm drowning in a sea of marshmallowy goo.
Even the charity shops have elbowed in on the act.
I drove past one yesterday which had a second-hand red negligee in the window: I'm all for economy and renewable fashion, but if you're going to present or be presented with such a garment, surely it's worth stretching to one that's new.
Every year, the red-foiled card displays in the shops grow wider, pushing out the cards for those inconsiderate people who have birthdays in February.
Leftover Christmas chocolates are hastily recalled, repackaged and remarketed in pink.
The sentiment seems to have been lost beneath the huge cash cow that the day has become: a cash cow that moos Barry White, is milked for Prosecco and produces steaks that can be sold in a romantic two-meals-for-one deal in the supermarket.
I'm not really a cynic.
Honestly, I'm not. I do secretly enjoy it: and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
There are always those who will moan about the cost of it, of course: that restaurants inflate their prices in set-menu scams, that cards are such a waste of money, and that no one should dictate how and when romance should be celebrated.
For those who are single, it's not much fun: I've spent a fair few Valentine's Days on my own, usually in the bath with a bottle of wine and a chip on my shoulder.
There can be pressure, too, if you're in a new relationship.
How much effort should be put in? Is a simple card enough?
One quick Google is enough to strike terror into the heart of anyone: rustic photo frames filled with messages of love from around the world, banners trailed from light aircraft or hung over motorway bridges and tealights and rose petals spelling out proposals on the lawn.
Where do you draw the line with romance, and how far do you have to go to prove to someone that you're worth their love?
I've never been great at huge demonstrations of affection (I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of some of my misguided romantic gestures).
I take refuge in claiming that I'm the 'understated' type, even if this is not strictly true.
I'm envious of those who have the creativity, imagination and energy to concoct the craziest of romantic schemes.
This year, too, everything that I usually don't like about the day has actually become strangely appealing.
I can't wait to see the gushing declarations of everlasting love, the nauseating selfies, the tacky presents and the toe-curlingly twee status updates on how 'V-Day' has been celebrated this year. (I suppose 'V-Day' first became a thing when celebrity couples started to amalgamate their names and three-letter words replaced proper sentences in text messages).
All of this, in 2017 – The Year Of Armageddon – is oddly comforting.
It may sound bizarre.
But I believe that once you push aside all the fluff and hype and nonsense and burrow down to the real message beneath it all, there is still a sincerity that can be found in the gestures that are made.
There will always be some that simply go through the motions: it's how petrol station flower concessions make their money, after all.
There will equally be those who use it to demonstrate their wealth and status and attempt to show that money can buy love.
But whether we choose to celebrate our emotions in a shower of rose petals and helium balloons, or simply with a cup of tea in bed in the morning, a show of affection is at the root of it all.
For the main part, Valentine's Day can be reduced down to its most basic essence: a demonstration of love between humans.
Whether you're a hopeless romantic or romantically hopeless, single, attached, happy or heartbroken, and wherever you are in this topsy-turvy world of ours: make sure you spread a little love around.
Because maybe, at this time, that's not such a bad thing to celebrate, after all.