By Niles Philips
I don’t have a great track record with Valentine’s Day. The first year with my girlfriend we’d only been dating for two months, so I went low key, with a card and a single long-stemmed red rose… and sadly this remains my sole Valentine’s success story to date.
Fast forward to year two and I pushed the boat out by cooking a romantic meal. I’m not bad in the kitchen, so prepared a full three courses. For starters I made a wild mushroom soup. My girlfriend declared it delicious, then collapsed a little way into the main course, having had a massive allergic response to one of the species of mushrooms! Being blue-lighted to hospital is not the most romantic end to a Valentine date.
But Clare is made of strong stuff, and when she recovered, we resumed dating. The following Valentine’s Day I decided I’d surprise her with a weekend trip to London. I booked the full works: meal, show, hotel, and train tickets well in advance, and made sure her diary was clear.
On the way to the train station I tripped up a kerb and banged my elbow as I fell. It smarted a bit but wasn’t a big deal. On the train however, I realised I could no longer bend my arm, which was starting to throb. By the time we arrived in London my fingers had developed a weird purple hue, so our first stop was Accident and Emergency, where I discovered I’d broken my elbow! It took so long to get assessed, X-rayed and patched up that we missed our meal and the show. We did stay in the hotel, but I don’t remember much as I was high on pain-relief! A lesser woman would have cut her losses at this point, but not Clare. She hung around for Valentine’s Day number three. We’d moved in together and I knew she wanted a kitten. I sourced the cutest little ball of grey fluff with amber eyes. I took Valentine’s Day off work and duly collected the kitten that morning, all bright-eyed and bushy tailed. I took it home anticipating Clare’s delight. But by 3pm the kitten was looking a bit peaky. By 5:30pm Clare walked through the door to find me nursing a very sick scrap of fur, on the phone to the emergency vet. When we arrived at the surgery, she told us gently that he had a sky-high temperature, probably due to a virus, and to expect the worst. We left him being fitted with a drip, then waited at home fretting until the next morning.
As soon as we could we rang the surgery and discovered to our delight that he’d turned a corner made it through the night. Valentine (or Val as we call him) is now a robust one-year-old cat with the constitution of an ox, who totally rules our home, so at least that story had a happy ending.
This year for Valentine’s Day I’m cutting my losses and going with a card and a box of Maltesers. The question is do I risk popping the engagement ring at the bottom, or is that just asking for trouble?
Happy Valentine’s Day.