Monday, 15 February 2016


Or, as a rather less influential songwriter put it, what is love anyway?

It's Valentine's day. So there. (Image copyright: Freemantle Media)

Love. On the face of it, I think I’ve always found it hard to get a grip on. Once when I was going out with an old girlfriend, in the early stages of the relationship she said she was looking forward to being taken out and wined and dined in the best restaurants in London. I suppose I admired her directness, but even for a mild cynic like me, this seemed to be putting the materialistic cart before the romantic horse. It didn’t last.

Which brings me neatly to Valentine’s Day. It seems strange to have a day where you’re made to feel you have to make a conscious effort to tell your nearest and dearest how much you love them, via flowers, cards and/or a meal, with accompanying prices cranked up just for the occasion. Shouldn’t you be telling your loved one every day without prompting how much they mean to you? The same goes for Mother and Father’s Day: are we that far gone emotionally that we have to be reminded by consumerism to express what we should naturally feel? The bugger of it is, even if you disapprove of all the commercialisation, if you don’t join in on these occasions you either think you should be on The Undateables or feel a bit miserable. Or both.

This sort of love I’ve been grappling with lately is a long from synthetic schmaltz. Going into a relationship where there are two children involved hasn’t been easy for me, I suppose because I’ve never had any of my own, and because I’ve spent such a long time as a single man; I think you get to a point where you grow some kind of protective emotional crust. Then there’s my mental health issues: for someone who’s got low self-esteem and suffers from a lack of confidence, the thought of being responsible for two children is sometimes enough to make me want to run for the hills. I have a father who suffered from depression and I have it too. At some level, I think I was terrified of being a bad example and passing the predilection for it on to any kids that I had.

Yum yums.
So here we are on Valentine’s Day. Me and the girls aren’t doing much. Poppy’s on the sofa opposite, with a bit of a temperature. Me and her mum Dawn, my partner, were going to see a film later but obviously we can’t leave her. Every so often, we ask Pops if she wants anything and I’m keeping an eye on her. Rose is playing computer games in her room. Dawn’s working on some of her art next door. This morning, she prepared a lovely healthy breakfast for us and, for a lunch-time snack, cooked some heart-shaped pizzas (above). Yesterday, we spent most of the day not doing much except watching stuff on Netflix. It’s all fine.

So, if I’m to stumble towards an answer to the question, love is, obviously, whatever makes you happy. If that means spending a rainy Saturday afternoon and evening tucked up watching Mr Robot, Penny Dreadful and The Flash, that’s just fine. Me being me, more than once I asked Dawn if she was bored. She said she wasn’t and cuddled up a bit more warmly.

This calm, content days is a long way from trying to impress someone by wining and dining them in one of London’s best restaurants. Realising what’s really important has taken me a long time, but I’m glad I finally got here.

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