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Men, turn up the heat and open a good cookbook

Valentine's Day is that annual reminder to remind someone that you care for them. As if I would need a reminder! Sure I have a path worn to the florist. It is great to see the smile that a €50 bunch brings on the many occasions when one is asking for forgiveness, because it is not in my nature to ask for permission.

I speak as a man. To men. Mostly. Though having gone to a co-ed school I have an unparalleled appreciation of women. I blame my parents for most of the deficiencies in my behaviour. They had the dreadful misfortune to have a long and very happy marriage. They were the centre of each other's lives. They did not have to go around holding hands for the other to know it. Maybe they did in private, but that was their business and we didn't have to witness it. They never fought and never stopped talking to each other. They are an impossible act to follow. To either of them, the notion of some extravagantly-wrapped chocolate being essential next Friday would have struck them as insane. Before you have even shed the Christmas bulge.

As for a compulsory meal? Who wants to sit in a restaurant full of loved-up couples, stone-cold sober because I am driving. A taxi to my house costs more than a Ryanair flight to… well to anywhere. I am not sure of the difference between cheap and thrifty, but I will own up to thrifty. Even parsimonious. I think a much better solution is to go to the Neven Maguire shelf where among those pages even I can find something that I can master and that will impress. I am getting better but I am still inclined to take the approach of a chemistry experiment. Timing matters. Temperature matters. I surround myself with high tech gadgets. Then there is the presentation. There is no point in putting in all of the effort and just slapping it on the plate. Even the plates matter. Buy some that show no wear and tear or fried egg stains. Go to an art class and practice drizzling for the final touches. If all fails you need to keep a freezer full of ice cream in a variety of flavours. You can always eat it later yourself. The best present I ever got was an ice cream machine. You cannot beat DIY ice cream.