13 December 2017

Love Actually

I’m not really into the ‘mush’ that is February! The big hearts, lovey dovey verses and ‘I Love You’s’ that are aimed at February 14th.

Those sentiments that begin on the day the Christmas card stands are removed from the shop sort of leave me for dead!

The pressure to be loved or to tell the world you love somebody else is extreme and the emphasis on doing it big with big cards, big bunches of flowers, big gestures and a big night out equal one thing – big money!!

Gone are the days of ‘garage cards’ (cheapies bought in the local Petrol Station on the way home) and cute little acronyms like ‘ITALY’, ‘BELFAST’ or ‘SWALK’. They have been replaced by all singing all dancing creations; personally designed on the internet and including verses so poetic and full of goo they would even earn Shakespeare a pound or two!!

Maybe I’m getting old, or cynical, or even worse than that…maybe I’m turning into the St Valentine’s Day Scrooge believing the media hype to be a big con trying to convince us that romance is alive and well.

But I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way – I know at least three other people with similar feelings! These feelings became apparent after a ‘girly’ night out. We did all the normal ‘girly’ things: went shopping, had coffee, moaned about putting on weight, had coffee, caught up on all the ‘bizz’, had coffee…and so it went on!! In the course of conversation someone mentioned a film they’d seen, and this in turn sparked off a discussion that led to our decision!!

We talked about how romantic the film was – it made us all go weak at the knees and we eagerly asked each other rhetorical questions:

“Did you see the bit where he looked across the room and their eyes met?”

“Did you see the bit where he nearly asked her out and her friend butted in?”

“What about the bit when they were standing outside talking and it was pouring with rain – they never even noticed!!”

We got totally carried away – it was such fun!! As each question was asked we shrieked and sighed:

“Yes, oh that was so good!”

“I thought I was going to cry.”

“I did cry!”

“I thought it was so nice the way he kept telling her how beautiful she was.”

The conversation then went off at a bit of a tangent. We wondered when the last time was that someone had made those type of flattering comments to us – none of us could put a decade on it! It was confirmed by all that a ‘longing’ look across a crowded room generally meant, ‘It’s your turn to sort the kids out’, or ‘Let’s get out of here, I’ve been stuck beside your Great Auntie What’s-Her- Name all night’. Also, any prolonged period of standing, talking, singing or dancing in the rain would pre-empt a telephone call to a psychiatrist and a severe dose of the flu!!

On a more positive vein it was mentioned that little notes used to be left in the kitchen saying things like, ‘I Love You – Didn’t waken you before I left because you looked so peaceful’, but the fact that those notes were now more likely to say, ‘Went to work early – your snoring woke me up and I couldn’t get back to sleep’ sort of blew that contribution out of the water! At this the floodgates opened:

“Does he ever notice when you get your hair done?”

“It’s when you say, ‘I think I’ve put on weight’, and he just goes, ‘M mmm’, that really gets to me!” (Men, if you are reading this show some sensitivity – the mandatory response to this is, ‘No you haven’t, I think you look fantastic just the way you are!’)

We were really getting going now – the conclusion was unanimous and inevitable – ‘Romance is dead!’ We’d thought about it, discussed it, rationalised it, hypothesised about it, compared notes, shared experiences and felt we had fairly major evidence that romance was DAB – dead and buried!!

“Mind you,” someone said, “The last time my husband got his hair cut I only noticed when the rest of the washing was covered in hairs!”

A traitor was in our midst – it wasn’t all the men’s fault.

“Well do they ever buy you flowers? I used to get flowers all the time – but not now!” one friend said by way of a come-back.

Everyone nodded in agreement and I cringed! I had ‘given off’ about never getting flowers. So, when my husband handed me twelve beautiful red roses on Valentine’s Day I think he may have been expecting words of gratitude, gratefulness and appreciation. Did I well up with tears? Did I sigh with contentment that I had managed to marry the most thoughtful man in the world? Did I fling my arms around him and coo “Oh darling I knew you cared!” Did I vow never to label him ‘unromantic’ ever again?

No…I put on my Scrooge costume, asked him how much they cost, nearly choked at the answer and ‘chewed the nose of him’ for wasting all that money on something that would be dead in a couple of days and a quarter of the price tomorrow! It was a really nice thought I acknowledged but the florist saw you coming!!

Romantic or what?!

It was round about then that Matthew 7 came into my mind. “Judge not that ye be not judged for with what judgement you judge it shall be judged and with what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Not the most romantic verse you’ll ever read but one that in marriage it may be good to remember. So many times we make judgements, are critical or think we are so right, pointing out the “mote” in our partner’s eye without “considering the beam in our own eye’.” Sometimes we need to stop, look and think! Life is busy and we can become so caught up in what we have to do that we don’t even notice what people are doing for us.

So Valentine’s and its appeal eludes me just a tad – probably because I think I may have killed it! Roses, not a chance…I haven’t had as much as a daisy since!

RUTH RAVEY