It was St Valentine’s day yesterday. It passed me by without a single paper heart, smoochy kiss, or even a loving smile. Life gets less romantic as time passes, besides it’s always struck me as strange that we celebrate a man who was beheaded for marrying couples at a time where marriage was outlawed so that men would become good soldiers rather than good husbands (although in my experience both mean going to war occasionally).
But then it’s probably no stranger than having Catherine wheels on Bonfire night (St Catherine was burned to death on a revolving cart wheel) or small children dressing up as vampires and witches on All Saints Day (Halloween), or not giving up chocolate for forty days and forty nights because it won’t stop raining (no, that’s not right is it? I’ve got that muddled).
Yes, yesterday was Saint Valentine’s Day - the day where young men everywhere rush to the supermarket to buy ridiculously priced red roses and good husbands take their wives out for a special meal (and do the driving so that she can have some wine – just in case).
I did neither. I didn’t even buy a card, but then it would be true to say that I didn’t receive one either. First time ever - how times have changed. Once there were cards and chocs and roses galore, candlelit dinners and fizzing champagne, balloons and teddy bears and sometimes I even did the driving.
‘For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings, that then I scorn to change my state with kings.’
Yes, romance is dead in our house. Well, perhaps not quite dead. I did buy Gaynor some longiflorum lilies (but only because I saw them, they were a good price, and they are her favourite flowers) and she did make me Valentine strawberry hearts (but again, only because the strawberries were a good price, she has sugar in the cupboard, and I like sticky fruit).
Just a few strawberries, some sugar and boiled water reduced to a syrup; taking care not to burn the mixture by brushing the edges of the pan with cold water continually - hardly any trouble at all, made in moments. Yes, just some discount store strawberries, dipped in this sweet, sticky mixture and left to cool and harden until the sweet red juice inside the toffee flows freely as the strawberry slowly cooks.
‘Sweets to the sweet, farewell! I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife.’
Totally delicious, far better than kisses, more edible than a card, and - as I choose to see them as a gesture of undying love - a romance on a plate. Yes, as Shakespeare almost said: ‘If food be the music of love, eat on’ (or some other such nonsense). And best of all? I didn’t have to do the driving, so I got to drink my half of the bloody bubbly as well for once.
Yes, romance is dead in our house – but marriage lives on.