Restaurants jammed and amateurs out in force? Must be Valentine's Day

On a day when rank commercialism of the most blatant kind kicks in with a vengeance there are still plenty of odd wee stories about the place to keep us all sane.

This being St Valentine's Day the country's restaurants will, of course, be full. Yet mention this fact to any restaurateur worth their salt and they'll give you a look that could fillet you on the spot.

Experienced staff in dining establishments dread Valentine's Day and always have done. The fact that it falls on a Saturday this year only makes things worse.

Saturday is traditionally the busiest day of the week, with people heading to gigs, movies and so forth, but February 14 brings the amateurs out in force - and takings always suffer.


First off, practically every restaurant is swamped with bookings for two which cuts down on the possibility of groups, who tend to drink more on the whole and that, as we know, is where the real profit margins lie.

Add to that the forced 'romanticism' of the day, which means that blokes overspend to impress, thus leaving the waiting staff well below what they'd usually make on tips.

Ask anyone who's served tables which night of the year they'd most like to pull a sickie - but can't -and you'll get your answer pretty sharpish.

Then of course there's always the possibility that some poor buggers will be dragged by their other half to go to see 50 Shades of Grey. God help them.

Apparently the thoroughly dreary adaptation of EL James' barely literate best-seller has been the subject of the biggest number of block-bookings in Irish cinema history.

For some bizarre reason this is being pitched as an ideal girls' night out experience, akin to the Sex And The City films.

Now, while it's relatively easy to see how the SATC movies (even the appalling and franchise-killing second one) could appeal (being about ladeez talking about shoes, clothes, ironing and whatever else the wimmin get up to when they've had a glass or two of Pinot Grigio) 50 Shades of Grey utterly baffles me.

Here we have a rather thick young woman being stalked and effectively abused as a sex slave by a good-looking billionaire who lavishes her with all sorts of goodies.

The books have been described as 'mommy porn' but really the film is just lifestyle porn and consumer porn rolled together - with stiff acting and the look of a glossy car ad.

Replace the fab abs and gargantuan wad of the domineering male with, say, a chubby bloke in his mid-40s who looks like a cross between Marty Morrissey and Pat Spillane, works in a butchers, and lives in a two-bed semi-d in a ghost estate on the outskirts of Mullingar.


Were he to pull any Christian Grey-style stunts the females flocking to see the film would call the guards who would be kicking down his door within the hour.

But we do have a couple of things to look forward to. The prospect of Australia entering this year's Eurovision Song Contest adds another layer of madness to that increasingly bewildering festival of camp.

Naturally, you'd have to wonder just who'd align themselves with the Aussies given the way the whole block-voting thing has gone in the past decade or so.

Personally, I'd get down to the bookies now and back Australia to win, given that there's not one TV organisation in Europe who wouldn't fancy a jolly Down Under next year. You read it here first.

Oh, and then we have the prospect of another Love Ulster march past the GPO next month.

What could possibly go wrong there?