From where I am sat on my bed I can count fourteen heart shaped objects and six mentions of the word ‘love’. And that’s not including my bed sheets, which are entirely covered in a ‘lovelovelovelovelove’ print with hearts for the ‘O’s.
It is probably safe to say I am something of a romantic. Moulin Rouge is my favourite film, Rob Ryan’s heart-achingly beautiful words make him my favourite artist, and frankly I think most things are improved if they have hearts on them. But for someone so soppy I teeter strangely close to the precipe of cynicism.
Every year when Valentine’s Day comes around I am struck by an overwhelming urge to head to my nearest Clinton Cards with a box of matches and some petrol. (Please note, I am not actually an arsonist. I am too scared of fire to light candles.) I don’t know if it’s just me but I think Clinton Cards shops always have the same weird carpet and weird smell of stale emotions. On the 14th of February the ‘Me to You’ bears come out of hibernation armed with flowers and declarations of affection. ‘Love you forever,’ says an animal with stuffing for a heart.
I can’t bear it (gettit?). I can’t stand the cards with their pictures of puppies and ducklings and their pre-written messages. I can’t stand the heart shaped chocolate boxes and the candles and the Pizza Express vouchers that arrive in my inbox.
My dislike of Valentine’s Day started a long time ago, probably at a time when the only cards I received were from my dad. I have seen Valentine’s Day from the other side too though. I went on the first date with my first boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, and although I admit that the date of the month didn’t spoil it, it didn’t make it either. The date on the calendar was unimportant to the date itself.
This Valentine’s Day I will be working, preparing for a protest I am planning at London Fashion Week on Friday. I will probably be stressed and quite probably grumpy as a result of being stressed. But that’s real life. If you want to love me you have to love me stressed and grumpy and driven, not cute and tied up with ribbon like an Andrex puppy. A Libby is for life, not just for Valentine’s Day.
Romance isn’t something you can buy from Hallmark. It’s letting me sniff down the phone when I’m just feeling like it’s all a bit much, or ironing my clothes in the morning so they’re warm when I put them on – not because I ask or because it’s the 14th of February, but just because.
To those of you who will be celebrating Valentine’s Day – enjoy. I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day as I do about New Year’s Eve: I hate the pressure and the prices, but I wish all the happiness to those who do choose to participate.
Just please, please don’t buy any of these…
With lots of love (not because it's Valentine's Day but just because),