It seems to me that the red-letter days on our yellowing calendars – birthdays, anniversaries, festive days, days when the arthritic cat performs a downward dog on the yoga mat – are, as the years pass by, coming around increasingly quickly.
These celebratory days, however, much as we may look forward to them, can act as tripwires in our lives, brimful as they are with great expectations and numerous ways to fail. And Valentine’s Day is no exception.
Yes, on this fine morning, as you bone your kippers and practise your ablutions (not necessarily in that order), young eyes are peeled, awaiting the arrival of the postman, while older, more seasoned eyes, those that have got used to meeting the empty postbox head-on, are trying to find their spectacles to turn down the thermostat.
Nip out for a carton of oat milk and an organic banana on this auspiciously romantic day and witness for yourselves filling-station employees surrounded by buckets of forced blooms and mountainous stacks of Ferrero Rocher.
Apparently, not having the right glassware to complement your Valentine's dinner table will make a horse's ass out of your culinary efforts
It’s one of those red-letter days, rivalled only by Mother’s Day, that holds within its fragile parameters a veritable quagmire of ways to make a hash of it.
I’ve been reading about Valentine’s Day etiquette in some of the lifestyle posts that pool in my junk box like coagulating blood from a heart shot through with a cherub’s arrow. Believe me, there are many ways to be imperfect in this Pinterest-perfect world – and perfection, my friend, ain’t cheap.
Take glassware, for example. Apparently, not having the right glassware to complement your Valentine’s dinner table will make a horse’s ass out of your culinary efforts.
You may have sweated prettily over the greasy hob all day to make a romantic supper for your loved one. You may have stalked a cooing dove in your gum shoes, twisted its feathery neck, plucked it sideways, steeped it in the milk of human kindness, stuffed its delicate cavity with loyalty and commitment, and peppered it with lust and longing, but you’ll still screw it all up if you don’t complement your efforts with a table sporting a “toasting flute set” and a “wine fountain”.
“What in the name of the divine jaysus is a wine fountain?” you ask through your softening gums, your tongue slick with a semi-masticated After Eight.
I’ve no idea, but whatever it is, it retails for close on a hundred quid, which would afford me a veritable lake of wine, even if I did have to pour straight out of the bottle.
And then there’s underwear, another Valentine’s Day minefield. Don’t for one minute think you’re going to make the grade in your Monday pants, mate. (Or indeed in yesterday’s only slightly baggy Y-fronts.)
You have to fall in love with every piece of what makes you you. Including your dodgy knees, your male-pattern baldness and the way you look more like your mother every day
Nope. According to those in the know, a day like today requires a touch of old-world elegance. Consider a pair of French knickers replete with a smattering of hand-appliquéd lace embroidery on baby-pink silk-satin – a veritable steal at a little less than 400 smackers.
According to my lingerie research (which is as scant as a G-string), it’s basically less hassle and more economical to be a man. A jaunty pair of silk boxers, cunningly named “the Polka-Dot Frenzy”, only cost about 30 quid. And what’s more, come summer, you could stick a T-shirt over them, slip into your flip-flops and nip down to Lidl to pick up a tub of raspberry sorbet. Even if you did end up coming home with a fishing rod, a disposable barbecue, a rotating clothesline and three bottles of balsamic vinegar, you’d still have saved yourself the price of a pair of shorts.
Where was I? Oh yeah, Valentine’s Day.
Apparently, the current trend is all about embracing self-love. The trick, according to those who know, is to hold yourself in high esteem and nurture your wellbeing, while also making healthy lifestyle choices!
Yeah? Presumably, you can then avoid waxing parlours, chocolatiers and breaking your acrylic nails on your fiddly suspenders.
So here are some ways to inculcate the habit of self-love, a beginner’s guide culled from my extensive reading on how you can begin to love you.
First, you have to fall in love with every piece of what makes you you. (Including your dodgy knees, your male-pattern baldness and the way you look more like your mother every passing day).
Second, laugh with yourself. (If this doesn’t work, however, you can always laugh at yourself).
And finally, try to accept “the you that you are today”. You may as well, sweetheart. You’re 24 hours less wrinkly than you’ll be tomorrow.