In which I attempt to rationalise Valentines day

Do you celebrate Valentines Day? I ask a colleague. “Why yes, I’m going to stand naked on a balcony and recite poetry to my adoring boyfriend down below” she says deadpan while I consider whether eating scotch eggs by candlelight could be construed as romantic (yes).

I ponder my own views about the blessed day and naturally they’re a somewhat mixed bag: On the one hand I don’t endorse it in anyway. Are we so devoid of genuine emotion that we need a card company to remind us we should probably go out for a romantic dinner once a year and make pallid gestures over stale breadsticks? On the other I would be disappointed not to get a card.

The truth is we all know Valentines Day is tacky and a bit insincere and honestly if I never see another teddy bear clutching a pink heart again it will be too soon. But who am I to turn my nose up at a day dedicated to L O V E love? I LOVE love. Plus – any excuse to go for a three-course dinner at Pizza Express, am I right ladies?

We’ve had a cold, wet 2017 thus far. We’ve had anger and marching and the building of walls. We could all do with a little bit of love.

If your beef with V Day is the fact that it’s really a party for the card companies, then why not make your own? Stick it to the man using pritt stick and a pack of felt tips. Don’t want to pay for exorbitantly priced flowers? Helloooo origami. Last longer anyway. Don’t fancy Pizza Express with all its two for one specials and flaccid helium balloons (are you mad?!)? Grab V Day by the frying pan and whip up some pancakes (the way to any girl’s heart).

Being single is no excuse to shun the sacred day either. In my heady uni days I was a firm advocate of spending it with friends. We’d consume an unholy cocktail of gin and chocolate, put James Blunt on full blast and profess our undying love for one another until we fell asleep on the sofa and started dribbling.

Having experienced a rich array of Valentines Days – some good, some bad, some truly ugly (the less said about 2014 the better), I’ve decided that for me – it should be less heart shaped chocolates and more thoughtful gestures and showing someone you really bloody care (I know right – vom). But I do think it’s great that there’s a day dedicated to telling someone you love that they absolutely rock. In an ideal world we should be doing this everyday – but what better time to start than 14th February?

Romantic gestures don’t have to be contrived: Get up five minutes early to make your favourite person a cup of tea – that’s about the most romantic thing I can fathom right now. Text your best friend to let her know how much she means to you. Or better – send her a card – that’s a way to turn V Day on it’s head – celebrate SISTERHOOD in all it’s glory. Surprise somebody by waiting outside their office until they finish work (NB this could be construed as slightly stalker-ish so proceed with caution – no lurking around in dark alleys or hiding behind walls). Buy the big issue guy standing opposite the tube a cup of coffee. Tell your boss you like her shoes. Call your mum and have a chat. Get yourself a cookie.

This year I plan on celebrating V Day unabashedly – I’m going to do ALL of the above -because who am I kidding? I LOVE a romantic gesture (yep might even hide behind a wall). While I think I might just about resist the urge to buy the King a teddy bear from clinton cards en route home tonight, he might get to eat a scotch egg by candlelight if he’s lucky.

card

 

Have you heard there’s this new film La La Land?

I know… it hasn’t had much press has it? But I think it deserves some praise because it was BRILLIANT.

I jest of course. I’m sure everybody’s moved on to T2 now but sry not sry I’m chiming in on the whole La La Land thing because I LOVED IT and I’ve been playing City of Stars on repeat since last week (sorry HRH) and I can’t seem to stop imagining my life is actually a musical and we could all just burst into song at any moment. Can we?

If you haven’t seen it yet you need to get down to the Picturehouse STAT (because srsly is there any other cinema worth going to?) Hey I’ll even come and watch it with you. How’s next Tuesday? Or tomorrow?! I’ll cancel my plans and get popcorn.

We need more films like this: Dreamlike sequences interspersed with real life heartbreak and rejection and regret. It’s enchanting stuff and it makes my heart crash and soar far more than any glossed over rom-com could (although don’t get me wrong I do love a rom com). Films, as a general rule, are either gritty realism or fluffy romantic ridiculousness; there’s little in between. Until now.

La La Land is like a more magical, musical version of life – where you don’t always hit the right note and your dreams don’t always come true and love doesn’t always mean you get to stay together forever, even if you really want to. But there’s still lots of lovely stuff if you look for it. It’s happy and sad and complicated and you get let down and you part ways and it hurts but you move on, or you pretend to move on then you see one another five years later and you realise you haven’t really moved on at all.

(Spoiler alert): At the end of the film, our protagonist’s dreams came true, but at the price of their relationship. Each lost a great love in pursuit of a lifelong ambition. It’s bittersweet. People make compromises. Never before has there been such a realistic ending to such a romantic film. Okay maybe Titanic. (While we’re on the subject it did not need to end that way – there was totally room for two on that door).

Love is a wonderful powerful thing but it doesn’t always triumph over life and all of its complications and aspirations. That doesn’t make it any less powerful though: Without love, Emma Stone’s Mia would never have known about the audition that would change her life: Love propelled both characters into the next phase, where each excelled in his or her own way.

Sure it was an all singing all dancing version of real life where everybody is really, really ridiculously good looking with flawless skin (one step at a time, Hollywood) – but Damien Chazelle’s reluctance to conform to a neat narrative with a storybook ending where everything works out exactly the way we want it to was the right thing to do. By the way – how does it make you feel to know he’s only 32?! THIRTY TWO?! I have a lot of work to do…