Rachel Agnew, TV Presenter, Loose Woman, Cashier No 3 please, After Dinner Speaker and Columnist

Note to Self (3)

There’s nothing sadder than a single person on Valentine’s Day.

Once upon a time I agreed with that statement. When I was young, I desperately wanted to have a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day. It started when I was a teenager. Do you remember the one-upmanship at school about how many cards you’d received? And if you hadn’t received any?  Oh the shame! That was me – it wasn’t that I was unpopular, just that no-one fancied me. I never received a single card when I was young, apart from the one I sent myself in desperation in 1979.

Now I’m not telling you this to get your sympathy, or to get sack-loads of Valentine’s Cards sent to me through the Ealing Gazette offices (though clearly I wouldn’t mind if you did), it’s just the truth.

Then as I started to grow up, I’d still wonder whether this year would be different. I’d pretend I didn’t care, but I did, because people would still ask how many cards you’d got. And if I was single on the big day, I’d be like all the other miserable singles out there, desperately waiting for that unsigned card that might just turn up on the doormat. It never did. I don’t think I’ve ever (in all my 44 years) had one of those anonymous secret admirer cards.

Whenever either my sister or I were single in our twenties, our lovely older brother would send us a card in case we didn’t receive any real ones. But now we’re both single again in our forties, and he’s settled down and in love, he doesn’t bother. You just can’t get the siblings nowadays.

But the joy is - and please believe this is true dear readers - I don’t care anymore! There are so many great things about getting older, and one of them is not giving two hoots about the ghastly commercial hype of Valentine’s Day. Call me an old cynic (and I’ve been called worse), but I’m one of those people who has at long last realised, and truly believes, that love is for every day not just for just one day a year (same principal as puppies and Christmas).

I’ve spent a few 14th February evenings in restaurants when I have been happily coupled-up, looking at the majority of other couples who are out and about, and they tend to fall into two camps. There’s Mr and Miss Newly Dating. These two have got together because they didn’t want to be miserably single on Valentine’s Day, and so they grabbed the first vaguely attractive person they could find and went out for drinks, dinner and hopefully something more intimate later. Why? Because they still felt like I did as a teenager and wanted to let people know that they weren’t alone on the big day.
Then there’s Mr and Mrs Long Time Married. These two clearly have no desire to be there but feel like they ought to be. You know the ones, those couples who hardly say a word to each other all night other than to comment on the saltiness of the soup.

The only person really enjoying Valentines night is the ubiquitous red-rose vendor who is rubbing his hands together in glee at all the unromantic, thoughtless, men who think that buying one of his genetically modified unscented flowers, which will be dead by morning, is the height of sophisticated romance!

I do love romance though and hope my next Mr Right will be a romantic man, but I’m not deluded enough to think that real life is like a Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan rom-com. I do believe however, that real romance should consist of spontaneous and unexpected gestures of true love and that they should never, ever, happen on Valentine’s Day.

NOTE TO SELF: Celebrate being me, irrespective of the date on the calendar

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Rachel Agnew

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