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Addicted to love

A shrine to saint valentine in the centre of Dublin city is visited by lovers and the lovelorn every Valentine's Day.

They come to pen requests to the patron saint of love. The attached ask him to look over their relationships; the unattached ask him to bring them a beloved. With complete disregard for their own dignity, our writers have told us what it is they would write if they to visit the shrine to St Valentine. Their prayers range from the tongue-in-cheek to the heart-on-sleeve, but ultimately they all want the same thing: a happy St Valentine's Day. Being single on Valentine's Day is a bit like arriving into the airport arrivals hall. You make your way to the taxi rank, but as you walk by the sea of expectant faces and take in the squeals of delight and tears of joy, you wonder -- just for a moment -- if someone might be waiting for you, too.

Even the most committed singles and anti-commercialism activists would have to concede that Valentine's Day evokes in them a vain hope. The post box is opened a little more swiftly, text messages are attended to with a curious excitement and a cursory glance is directed at the flower bouquet delivery, or rather the accompanying card, at reception.

You wonder if the fella who took your number three weeks ago will call. Then you wonder if it would be appropriate to call him. Again.

It could be worse, you think. At least you don't have to sit in a heaving restaurant alongside 40-or-so pie-eyed pairs of lovers. At least you don't have to buy a cheesy card or pen a mawkish poem. At least you'll avoid the inevitable arguments that occur when your partner fails to do all three.

Nobody really wants a heart-shaped balloon or an oversized teddy bear, anyway. It's the attention they crave. Behind the gesture lies the sentiment: love, the emotion that we all crave as much as we fear.

Recent studies have found that love brings on a dopamine rush similar to that of cocaine, only the come-down is rather more delayed. It is an addiction and a cure. "Love is the drug and I need to score," sang Roxy Music. How right they were.

It has inspired poets, musicians and artists, and it has brought people to their feet and to their knees. There is only one more feeling as maddening as the first flushes of love and that is the pursuit of it. It is a craving that has engendered a billion-euro online dating industry and a feeling that has women staring forlornly out of the window of Burger King at 4am on Sunday.

Love hurts, particularly when you can't find it.

But hope lies in unusual places. There are avenues that don't involve typing the abbreviation GSOH (if you don't know, don't ask) or loitering with intent in the smoking area.

Unbeknownst to many Dublin denizens, the remains of St Valentine lie smack bang in the middle of Dublin city in the Whitefriar Street Church. There is a shrine, an altar and a book, or rather a tome, filled with entries by the lovelorn and the hopeless. They come, particularly on St Valentine's Day, beseeching assistance in troubled relationships and blessings for fledgling ones. They come looking for love.

The entries vary by length and language, want and need. Some are simple: "Please bring love into my life." Some are heartrendingly sad: "Please send me a friend." Others ask for help in their current relationships -- "please bless the one that I love and help me to surrender my obsessive thoughts" -- or the relationships of their kith and kin: "Please send my mum someone special."

Hearteningly, some of the entries are thanksgiving for prayers that have been answered.

And so to my request for divine assistance: "St Valentine, please bring a bouquet of white roses to my door and an Agent Provocateur babydoll to my top drawer." No, too greedy.

"St Valentine, grant me the serenity to accept the men I cannot have; the courage to chase those I can and the wisdom to stop calling Irish Psychics Live to find out the difference." No way: too pathetic.

I eventually plump for: "St Valentine, please bring me a man who makes me laugh as much as he makes me love." That's better, though a touch cringey ...

Michael O'Doherty, Publisher, VIP Magazine

How's it goin', Val? As you've probably guessed, I’m desperate. Waiting in line behind the queue of crazies, saddos and born-again virgins who look you up at this time of year, I feel embarrassed to be even asking for your help.

But times must. You see, there’s this girl. Tall, dark, funny and with the most bewitching smile you’ll ever see. I only met her recently, but it’s fair to say I’m smitten.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve gone with her to Flannery’s, flashed my gold card at the door of Coppers and met her in some kids’ bar where I felt like the old man coming to drag his daughter home.

Hell, I’ve even done that ultimate concession to women who want to see how far you’ll put yourself out for them — I’ve tagged along to a gay bar.

But so far, she’s only ever come out with an entourage as back up, so it has been hard to gauge her interest, or lack thereof.

And there may be another problem, perhaps the leftovers of relationship past, which she can really only fix herself. But maybe you can help her?

If you do, I’ll even stump up for one of your tacky, door-sized cards and over-priced bunches of roses. Deal?

Simone Kenny, journalist

Dear St Valentine, I feel a bit cheeky writing to you, considering you already sent me the love of my life eight years ago.

You fulfilled my love-order perfectly, from the physical attributes (tall, handsome and athletic), right down to the personality (funny, loving and loyal).

However, I was not prepared for love while sitting at a Scottish bar in Ibiza. But you did not give up, St Valentine; you sent him back to me, hoping that the pina colada haze would lift.

We met again, by chance, and spent the day together talking and laughing. You set the scene beautifully: white sand, azure sea and clear, blue sky; a scene I am sure contributed to us arranging to meet a final time before my departure.

It was here I really challenged you, thwarting all your efforts to deliver love, as I refused to exchange numbers.

But you didn’t give up. As I boarded the bus, you turned a light on and I relented as the driver reluctantly held up the bus while my love raced to find a pen. Now I know what and who love is, all I ask is that you make it last.

Lisa Cannon, Xpose Presenter

Hello there, St Val, remember me? yeah, course you do. I've come a-knockin' before and, like many before me, you didn't deliver ... well, kind of.

You palmed me off with a string of mediocre Valentine's dates, coupled with many half-baked attempts to be romantic and a crescendo of yawntastic banter from many a male ... but I applaud you for the past couple of years.

Yes, thanking you big style. You did well because my delightful squeeze is tremendous. Bravo, St Val, you certainly delivered this time.

No more shoddy excuses that restaurants are booked out, half-wilted roses bought in the local service station or rotten attempts to skip off with the lads rather than endure a 'Hallmark' Day.

My Valiant Valentine now triumphantly buys me the naff cards I love and has a bottle of bubbly chilling in the corner, too. He is rugged, ridiculously handsome and has me in fits of raucous laughter.

This year, I'm asking for nothing only for you to sprinkle your sparkly love dust generously on to others as you did for me, and that those who have had their little hearts broken have them mended with goodwill and merry cheer.

Nab a peck for yourself while you're at it and have a Happy Valentine's, St Val. Keep spreadin' the love ...

Kirstie McDermott, www.beaut.ie

Dear Mr Valentine, see, here's the thing. The love of my life is sorted (thanks very much for that, by the way, he's pretty brilliant), so that has left me with a whole other list of wants to fill the acquisition-void in my grasping little heart.

The cosmetic craving is sorted too -- work brings me lots in the way of beauty bounty to play with, so my attentions have moved elsewhere. Specifically to handbags.

Call me shallow -- no don't, I might cry -- but there's really nothing like a little high-end leather to make my heart flutter like a teenage girl's at a GAA disco.

We're not talking astronomically expensive, ostrich-leather Hermès Birkins, by the way, just really great bags that aren't a month's rent and which I'll get a year's wear out of.

So, for Valentine's, if you could arrange by some mysterious hand-of-God-style action (not a Thierry Henry-style one though, thanks) for a little parcel to drop down out of the sky containing, variously, a small something by Vivienne Westwood, that Marc Jacobs sequinned New York Rocker Stam I've got bookmarked on www.net-a-porter.com, or, if cash is a bit tight, that Lulu Guinness quilted lips, Chanel-esque knock-off I spotted in Brown Thomas would do quite nicely indeed.

Just call them my modern day relics, eh?

Siobhan O'Connor, 98's Gossip Girl HQ

Dear St Valentine, i come to you with a plea. Why are men not more like dogs? I recently got a puppy, and my hubby and I spend most of our days pooper-scooping around the house. We love our little dog, even though he thinks that our kitchen is his own personal lavatory.

St Valentine, if men were more like dogs, they'd love you unconditionally. Their affection knows no bounds. They never judge your wrecked old tracksuit bottoms that give you a saggy ass. In fact, my dog adores putting holes in everything I own. Somehow, you don't mind because the poor pet is teething and needs to chew on something.

When you go for a walk with your dog, you never run out of conversation, as he doesn't mumble back or feign interest. In fact, he finds you fascinating. He gives you the paw and you feel like he's giving you his heart.

When you come home from a hard day's work, your dog wags his tail and licks your face. He doesn't care that you've aged five years and you need to get your boobs measured again because they're clearly going south.

Some of my mates have recently worried that my hands are covered in scrape marks. When quizzed, I glowingly reply: "Ah, my little pup has mistaken my limbs for teething toys again. They're just teeth marks." St Valentine, I can't remember the last time I got a love bite from my husband ...


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