It may not surprise you to know that my view of Valentine’s day is dim. At boarding school I dreaded the distribution of the post on that day, fully aware that those who did not receive a card would be carefully noted by the total bastards, of whom there were many, and that life for the cardless would be a total misery for the next few days. I felt that martyrdom was too good for Valentine and that it might have been more appropriate to have celebrated a Claudius the Cruel day, as Valentine’s tormentor certainly seemed to have the upper hand in my small world of that time. There is a school of thought, of which I am probably the only proponent, which has the view that the tears before bedtime caused by Valentine’s day are only equalled by ToysRUs. If you want to see massed children crying, pay a visit to ToysRUs around Christmas time, and if you want to see adults on the cusp of tears and fisticuffs, go to any restaurant serving a special Valentine’s Day dinner. Both the idea of Valentines and ToysRUs are well meaning conceptions but, like democracy and religion, an awful lot of luck is needed for the ideas to work once human behaviour is added to the equation. Faith, dissimulation and promises are the cornerstones of these enterprises. You will have noticed that I have only named three corner stones – there isn’t a fourth which is why the whole thing teeters, precariously balanced, waiting for the first unfavourable circumstance to drop it on its arse.
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