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What's love got to do with it? Why I hate Valentine's

Bill Linnane


Our man admits he's bad at romance

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Romance is important as a demonstration that you value the person

Romance is important as a demonstration that you value the person

Romance is important as a demonstration that you value the person

Oh dear god, it is almost Valentine's again. It really feels like this should be one of those cursed occurrences that come around once every few years, like a blood moon, or Hale-Bopp. But no, we have to drag ourselves through this anxiety-producing nightmare every single year from the age of 13 onwards. Little wonder that St Valentine was sliced and diced for inflicting this up on us all.

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And not just that, but his feast-day has the temerity to occur right after Christmas - the biggest drain on both finances and human emotions in the country. Surely that tinsel-clad money pit gave us all enough opportunity to talk about love? There's an entire film about the topic, it's called Love, Actually, and it isn't set around Valentine's Day, it's set around Christmas, because that is the true festival of love. There is a film about St Valentine's Day, it's called Valentine's Day and it is tedious, much like the day itself. Even Hollywood can't make this mess seem special.

Of course the reason I don't especially like this day is because I am bad at love. I am bad at romance, and the demonstrations of love that come with it. I am bad at performative love, bad at celebrating love, bad at showing how I feel. I'm OK at the physical act of love, I give myself a solid six out of 10 for that; if it was a club sport, I would win the county but would be unlikely to take the provincial title. Anyone who thinks they deserve a national title needs to clam down.

Part of my failures at emotional love can probably be put down to the rusty chains of masculinity and the paradoxical notion that men are meant to never show emotion, except on this one day when we really ought to let our hearts run free. You would think that as someone who writes, I should be well able to craft a sonnet, or at least scribble a few lines of genuine meaning in a card, but no, I descend into a sweaty mess when it comes to expressing love. Anger, that's no problem - I am remarkably fluid when it comes to picking up arguments where they left off, such as our 18-year war of attrition over whether or not pots and pans should go in the dishwasher (it's DISHwasher, not POTwasher). But you bottle up those kinder, warmer emotions for most of the year so when it comes to letting them loose on this one day, it can be hard to locate them.

In cards I invariably scribble 'love always' and a few Xs and Os. Although in my defence, she isn't much better, signing one card with LOL one year, leading me to believe that she, like David Cameron in his texts to Rebekah Brooks, thought it was shorthand for 'lots of love'.

I do try to pick a card that carries a message with meaning, or at least I try to pick one from the small selection in my local supermarket. There's love and then there's having to go to a different shop for a card. I do have a life beyond annual card hunts. Then there is the flowers. Not hand-delivered fancy ones; I prefer to go for the small bouquet you pick up at the end of the aisle whilst doing the weekly shop, only for them to get crushed by a bag of spuds or 50-roll pack of toilet paper.

Except, romance is important - actual romance, AKA a demonstration that you value the person, that you see them, that they are cherished. You don't need to project their face onto the Taj Mahal, or whisk them away to Machu Picchu to renew vows. In our case it will most likely entail a trip to that little jewellery shop she likes, so that she can return the gift I got her for Christmas. Perhaps I will go all out and throw another few quid on top of it so we can get her something that doesn't look like it came from a cracker. After all, I can afford to spend a bit as my fastidious dishwasher usage means it won't need to be replaced until the next time Hale-Bopp swings by.

Irish Independent