Valentine’s Day has long had a bad rap. If you’re in a relationship and February 14th isn’t all rose petals and hot sex, it’s a disappointment; if you’re recently single, it’s a sharp reminder and if you’re happily single, people talk about it around you in hushed tones as if you should be at home weeping into a box of tissues whilst watching Notting Hill. The general consensus is that it’s tacky, it’s uncool and it must be stopped. For comedian Viv Groskop, however, it’s the best day of the year. Here, she tells Stylist why she just can’t get enough of February 14th.
Hands up, who loves Valentine’s Day?
What’s that? No-one? Not even someone half-heartedly holding up a slightly deflated helium balloon with a message on it reading: “Be Mine 4 Ever?” Not even my mum?
Yes, that’s right. I got married on Valentine’s Day. On purpose.
This is what we have come to. The most romantic day of the year. The day when we celebrate the one thing that holds us all together. The one thing that gives this pathetic, short-lived life any meaning. The one thing that allows us to feel truly superior about staying at home for the night because restaurants are just too unbearable. That one thing is love. And this is the only day when we celebrate it. And everyone hates it.
Except for me. I love Valentine’s Day.
And now it’s not just Valentine’s Day, it’s also my wedding anniversary and has been for the past seventeen years. Yes, that’s right. I got married on Valentine’s Day. On purpose. Paid the massive Valentine’s tax on my wedding bouquet and everything. (This is the main reason not to get married on Valentine’s Day. My friend, the cost of the floral arrangements will kill you.)
Over a decade and a half I have realised quite how unusual this is. I have never met anyone else who has their anniversary on Valentine’s Day and I have never met anyone else who looks forward to February 14th. (There must be someone out there. Someone...? Anyone...?)
I can never quite bring myself to admit that I always have plans for Valentine’s Day and they are always unashamedly cheesy, whether it’s making Nigella’s Love Buns, forcing my kids to mix raspberry chocolate kiss martinis or wielding a device for stamping bread before you toast it that says ‘Hot Stuff.’ (This entity exists.)
To be fair, I have brainwashed myself.
On my wedding day it was very easy as I walked down the King’s Road in London towards the registry office to imagine that all this frenzied activity was on my behalf: the love hearts festooned across every advertising hoarding, the champagne cocktails on special offer in every restaurant, the lavish bouquets of red roses spilling onto the pavement. (Meanwhile, inside the florist’s, the owner quietly sips Chateau Lafite and signs the contract for a condo in the Bahamas. Did I mention I paid a massive surcharge for my wedding bouquet?)
If you are a bit delusional, Valentine’s Day is a great day to get married: the whole world is your reception. You don’t even have to buy any bunting. Now it feels the same every wedding anniversary. The world remembered! So sweet!
No-one loves smug marrieds. But everyone loves a newlywed couple on their wedding day. I think maybe people were nicer in the street to me on that day than they have been on any other day ever.
Before I met the man I married on Valentine’s Day there were years when I sent cards to myself
I wasn’t wearing a big puffy meringue dress, just a vintage cream wool dress and a matching coat. I thought I looked like Jackie O. A rather cut-price Jackie O as my coat was from River Island. Never mind. I still looked like a bride and you could see the thought registering on people’s faces: “Oh... they’re getting married... on Valentine’s Day...” And a huge smile would break across their faces, partly with joy, partly at how ridiculous we were.
It was the perfect antidote to all the feelings of rejection, self-loathing and consumerist bombardment that have somehow shackled themselves to this day.
Of course, I’ve had my mid-February disillusionments. We all have. Before I met the man I married on Valentine’s Day there were years when I sent cards to myself (“Dear Viv -- you’re the best!”). There were many times I had “anti-Valentine’s” nights in with flatmates, getting drunk and setting the world to rights. (But that’s also a form of love.) And there was the year when I realised an adored boyfriend was just not that into me as I unwrapped a very average, grabbed-off-the-shelf-in-desperation cheap box of chocolates. “You can eat these in the bath,” he whispered creepily as I struggled to hide the Edvard Munch expression breaking across my face. Don’t tell me what to eat in the bath. And buy some friandises that are specific to me. We split up the following week.
Even Valentine’s fans have to manage the day with care. I don’t do restaurants because they’re over-priced and full of people not talking to each other and because I once had a Valentine’s supper in a hotel near Preston where they gave ‘the ladies’ a large white fluffy teddy bear holding a large red fluffy heart and I have never quite recovered. I felt like I should go straight to the nearest neo-natal unit and demand to lie down in a giant fish-tank, sucking my thumb. Once you’ve had that thought run through your head, it’s a bit of a passion-killer.
This year? Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast at home and the arrival of three cards: one for Valentine’s, one for wedding anniversary and one from a mystery admirer with writing very suspiciously like that of one of my children.
My husband will not definitely not be sending me flowers from a florist because one year I received a bouquet where the florist had drawn “I heart U” and I went into full Victor Meldrew grammar pedant mode. Not attractive. (He had asked for “I love you”.) Lesson: never let the florist write the card. The florist will always be too distracted by the thought of their imminent retirement to the Bahamas to write anything other than textspeak.
That aside, I love Valentine’s. Always will. All I have to do now is not get divorced.