So This is Romance?

Posted on February 14, 2013

Aaaah…Valentine’s Day, an occasion for secretive cards to someone you admire, or perhaps a single, humble red rose, as token of undying love…or as Amazon would like it, a Kindle Fire at just £160.00 for that special someone in your life!

The marketing superpowers have really fucked Valentine’s day up and not content with avoiding tax, Amazon are now trying to pressurise individuals via email so they stripe them for £160.00 just seven weeks after wiping them out at Christmas. Amazon aren’t the only ones of course, it was just an email I received that was a good example of what Valentine’s Day has become. Where is the romance in a Kindle Fire?

For men of my age group, Valentine’s Day can potentially be a pressure cooker of a situation, because to most of us born in the sixties, witnessing domestic romance was a rare and almost taboo subject. As a child, I think I saw my dad kiss my mum on the cheek once, an event that sent her reeling and back flipping like a freshly hooked salmon. I think that was about it, apart from seeing some weirdos perpetually hugging and kissing each other on Little House on the Prairie or The Waltons.

Most of my immediate peer group were the same, their parents were either divorced or in such a permanent state of mutual hatred, two way domestic violence was the only potential physical activity. Expectations and perceptions of marriage and women were changing rapidly during the late sixties and early seventies and men were ill equipped to cope with ladies who were becoming more and more ambitious and independent in thought (the film Made in Dagenham is a brilliant example of this period). The days of male chauvinist rugby piss ups whilst the women stayed at home in the kitchen were coming to a shuddering halt. It was a pivotal time.

As a consequence of these changes, many of us men, who are now in our forties, have had a perennial struggle deciding when the right time to show romance is. Flowers for example can be seen as a romantic gesture, a patronising attempt at getting sex, or a pathetic attempt at an apology, resulting in a one in three chance of getting it right. It’s a minefield out there as women are rightly, the masters of self-preservation and take almost vindictive pleasure in playing their romantic cards close to their chests. Second guessing  romance is akin to challenging  Garry Kasparov to a game of chess.

Meanwhile, poor bastards like me are trying to deal with not only Valentine’s Day, but a childhood that was romantically and physically repressed, leaving us like ducks in the desert when it comes to public affection. Last weekend for example, after a few beers had lent me some courage, I greeted an old friend’s girlfriend with a kiss on each cheek, wrongly thinking that I was being some sort of right on, metro-sexual, Guardian reading,  post-modernist. All I got for this monumental effort was an accusation of turning French, probably the biggest insult an Englishman can receive. I’ll give her a firm handshake next time.

So, as I went into Sainsbury’s this morning, I felt genuine pity for the chaps pacing around the empty flower stalls like dead men walking. Marketing pressure had got them in to such state of confusion, that they really didn’t know how to cope with it all; one thing I do know, is that a last ditch effort at a petrol garage will be treated with utter disdain lads, you are better off coming home with a bunch of stinging nettles.

So chaps, just do your best, and ladies, remember, we do love you and we do really try to do the right thing; some of are just useless and ill equipped to show it in the way we, or indeed, you, would like. I just hope to God that no one reading this is one of those desperate people you see in pubs on Valentine’s evening  paying treble money for an over rated meal and a stunted conversation with someone they wish they had left ten years ago.

Right, where’s that email I got from Amazon?

1 Reply to "So This is Romance?"

  • Trevor
    February 14, 2013 (12:42 pm)

    Fabulous post Bob. I’ve no idea who St.Valentine even was, let alone why we exchange cards and blokes buy flowers from petrol forecourts. I was trying to explain the whole thing to the kids this morning & drew a blank. Guess they’ll grow up thinking it’s the day you exchange kindles.

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