Happy loved-up lemmings day. Here’s your card

Let’s ditch Mr Hallmark and have an alternative Valentine’s Day celebration

Swimming through scented post this morning, are we? Skidding over crimson envelopes and cellophane-wrapped roses in your hurry to let the cat out?

Swimming through scented post this morning, are we? Skidding over crimson envelopes and cellophane-wrapped roses in your hurry to let the cat out?

Fri, Feb 14, 2014, 01:00

Swimming through scented post this morning, are we? Skidding over crimson-coloured envelopes and cellophane-wrapped roses in your hurry to let the cat out? Nauseous from imbibing cloying endearments and a pound of gilt-wrapped Belgian truffles? No? Thought not.

If you woke up today and there wasn’t a glittering Valentine’s Day card in sight, and your post box or doormat was littered with the usual old junk – offers of a cartwheel-sized pizza and a coronary for €10, estate agents urgently seeking property in your area (really, have they not heard of the polar vortex, the Atlantic storm factory and rising sea levels?), oh, and a letter from the bank saying that as you’re no longer a valued customer could you please bugger off and find someone else fool enough to give you an overdraft (or was that just me?) – despair not.

Just because no one bothered to put pen to paper, or wet tongue to envelope seal, doesn’t mean that you aren’t loved and appreciated. For middle-aged couples, it might simply mean that you’ve been married, cohabiting or hanging out each other’s washing for so many years now that you no longer inspire a
last-minute dash to the newsagent to pick up an ugly card. (Why are bears romantic, by the way, and sheep not, or wildebeests for that matter?)

Among the endless displays of lobotomised teddies clutching thorny roses in their clumsy paws I spotted a card that read: “Was your dad a baker? Because you’ve got the nicest buns!” I took that message quite literally, thinking “now there’s an oddity, a card directed at a home-maker or maybe an amateur chef”, when I realised that buns are American for arse cheeks.


Vaguely distasteful
Personally, I think there is something vaguely distasteful about participating in the one day of the grinding year earmarked by commerce to commemorate romance. St Valentine was a Roman martyr who met his untimely death in the month of February. Poignant and regrettable as that might be, unless he was impaled on the stem of a champagne flute I’m failing to find the connection.

Excuse the curmudgeonly tone, but it’s just too big an ask for one wet winter’s night to inspire love and romance on demand. It’s absurd to imagine that a dozen hothoused, freeze-dried rosebuds, a bottle of cava and a korma sauce is going to turn you and your significant other into Antony and Cleopatra without the asps and the body armour.

You spend 364 days a year living with someone who forgets to turn on the oven, clean the fish tank, empty the bath or acknowledge your allergies to their mother and shellfish, and then, lo and behold, it’s February 14th, the world is awash with pink and you’re supposed to send your lover the kind of missives you’d normally choke on.

Really, do we need to hurl ourselves into the frilly pit of cheap romance like a bunch of love-struck lemmings just because the supermarket is decorated with plastic cupids and One Direction are belting out a stirring love anthem through their baby teeth?


Simpering teddies
Maybe it’s time to search out an alternative way of spending the evening on this designated day. One answer, perhaps, could be to participate in One Billion Rising, a global movement to promote an end to violence against woman and girls, initiated by the American playwright Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues .

Ensler introduced her anti-violence V-Day campaign in 1998. According to UN figures at the time, one in three women was beaten or sexually assaulted in their lifetimes, which amounted to one billion women worldwide; 16 years later, the casualty count remains pretty much unchanged. In response, last year locally organised cultural events on V-Day saw one billion women and men from 200 countries gather to promote action and awareness.

Today, Ensler, herself a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, is once again calling on people to meet outside buildings that represent justice and, em, dance, as a way of making one’s presence felt.

In Ireland, events have been organised in Cork, Dublin and other towns and cities around the country, offering to feed, entertain, inform and help participants to find their groove (for times and venues, search for One Billion Rising).

I’m a lousy activist. I don’t like crowds, I don’t like being told what to think, I don’t like leaflets, I don’t even like enthusiasm very much, but those simpering teddies have finally tipped me over the edge; this year, Ensler’s initiative might be just the antidote to another compulsory date with dear old Mr Hallmark.

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