In case you hadn't noticed - and actually, it's pretty much passed me by this year - it's Valentine's Day on Saturday this week. You can almost see the restauranteurs rubbing their hands with delight, can't you? I imagine that they'll have been calculating for months exactly how little time they can allow each dinner shift to wolf down their overpriced set menus before shoving them out into the street and warmly and sincerely welcoming in the next bunch of suckers in for service. Waiters will have been practising clearing tables so that they can have the next course down almost before you've finished putting your fork down....
Ah, but surely not everyone is as cynical about this horrible commercial travesty as I am? Surely there are some young lovers out there who are looking forward to spending a special evening with their chosen one? There must be at least one or two lovelorn mooners hoping that they will catch a sympathetic eye, ear and heart with a well-chosen card, poem or maybe a heartfelt compilation CD whose tracklisting will, with hindsight, reveal far more about their state of mind than they had intended (we've all been there, right?)
Well, if the following conversation that I overheard at the gym this evening is to be believed, then romance isn't dead. I was minding my own business in the privacy of my shower cubicle, when two voices caught my ear and I couldn't help but listen....
"So go on then, what's her name?"
"I'm not going to tell you. You don't know her anyway."
"Did you....you know?
"Yes. Last night. But you don't know her, so there's no point me telling you who she is"
"I'll find out, you know I'll find out. I'll ask Benton".
"He doesn't know her either. He didn't even know about me and Liz"
"You and Liz?"
"When did you knob her?"
"Just before I went on holiday."
"Yeah. It was definitely a one off though. I was wasted, totally off my face and next thing I remember we were waking up together...."
"Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes,
Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers' tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet. "
Truly, we are living in the new age of chivalry.