You know you’ve got kids when you and your husband have a hot date on Valentine’s Day - at Parents’ Evening.
That’s how I’ll be spending this February 14th.
It’s warm, I get a seat (albeit a tiny child’s one ) it’s a ride out, and I get to spend quality time with my husband.
There’s even an intermediary to get you talking about the kids when spouse to spouse conversation runs dry.
Who says romance is dead?
Hallmark? It’s probably where the school shoes have scuffed the wall
Valentine’s Day should be the most romantic event of the year. Proclamations of love. Hearts and flowers. Passionate assignations.
Take your average married couple.
He whispers sweet nothings: “Have you seen the toenail clippers?”
She luxuriates in the bath. “Mommy, I need a poo. Can I come in?”
In the early years, cards were thoughtful, padded affairs with heartfelt messages. Now it’s comedy or generic cards that are straight to the point and practical.
‘Happy Valentine’s Day, love ? P.S. Can you turn the oven off in 30 as I don’t want to burn the kids' Crispy Pancakes?’
I might opt for Asda’s Smart Price (7p) Valentine’s Day card, if it hadn’t sold out.
My aunt and uncle were way ahead of that. They sent each other the same Valentine’s Day Card for 20 years. They’re divorced now.
On my wedding anniversary, Dad sent my husband a card which read: ‘You’re my hero’ and pictured an amusing cartoon of a beleaguered male and his nagging wife.
This followed Dad’s pre- altar words of wisdom to Mr N: “She’s off my hands now, son.”
The best a woman can get
In fairness, I have received some lovely gifts from my other half. But the bouquets of roses and champagne truffles have downscaled to a box of Cadbury’s Roses, as this covers all bases. Plus, I can spend the savings on some new finials.
One ex bought me an ornately wrapped pressie. I excitedly tore open the gift to the gushes of: “Oh, you shouldn’t have,”
Only to reveal a Ladyshave.
“It’s got two spare blades,” he quipped.
Come dine with me - and 100 other random people
I’m happy to stay in on Valentine’s Day. February is rather chilly.
Maybe I’m getting old and jaded. Maybe the honeymoon stage is over.
it’s not like I live on Coronation Street, where you can conveniently walk next door to Nick’s Bistro.
No reservation is required – even though it’s the busiest backstreet restaurant on any given week night. Just sit next to all your neighbours while Nigel Havers serves you Dom Perignon and oysters.
Maybe I’ve just had too many unromantic meals..
Nobody puts Baby in a corner
On our first Valentine’s evening we booked a three course meal at a swanky restaurant. The price tag was hefty, but love is… priceless.
It didn’t bode well when we joined the queue outside and were handed raffle tickets, IKEA returns desk style.
Once inside - and after the blue tinge had faded - we were guided to our table.
It was intimate.
“Can I borrow this?” the man two tables along said, as he leaned over to grab the salt cellar.
We had a candle. Which blew out whenever anybody opened the toilet door.
We were breathless. We had to breathe in to let people squeeze past our seats.
I had a rose in a plastic tube from a guitarist named Manuel, who performed a medley of hits by The Mavericks, Los Lobos and The Gypsy Kings. It transpired that he was actually a welder named Kevin from Chelmsley Wood.
There was time to whisper sweet nothings before the starter arrived - an hour later.
As I bit into my frozen pud, the gong struck and our session was over. The next tranche of diners were seated faster than you can say Black Forest Gateau.
It was as romantic as Alan Partridge’s date at the Travel Tavern’s all you can eat Valentine’s Buffet; ‘though we did not get chocolate mousse all over the valance.
In subsequent years we tried other eateries, including Wetherspoons. You can’t beat £15 for steak and wine. What woman doesn’t like to devour a 20oz steak, washed down with a pint of Ruddles? Especially a veggie like me.
But the pub was crammed to capacity. Starving punters were poised to pounce on the end of any available table, clasping their coffee card and a packet of wet wipes to dab away any residue.
The following year I tried to find vouchers that we could use, but the restrictions were so limited that it would be impossible to down a four course meal, complementary rose and enjoy the Sabrina tribute act, between the hours of 1 and 2am. On a Monday.
This year I'm content to stay in with a bag of chips and a Lion Bar. There many benefits:
Heating, Freeview (eliminates the need for small talk) and somebody to cuddle up to; my cat Bella!
My not so funny Valentine: Cautionary tales from the drip tray
Once I dated a man who described McDondald’s as a restaurant. The same individual referred to Sports Soccer as a designer outlet.
Another suggested we go halves on the 2-4-1 special. After sending me up the bar to order, he insisted on the change from his £2.50.
A friend’s (not me, really) partner gave her a fiver to buy herself a bunch of carnations from the Murco garage while he was filling the Mondeo up.
“Get me 20 Silk Cut and a scotch egg while you’re there, bab,” he shouted across the forecourt.
Happy Valentine’s Day!