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Roses are Red
, Valentines are Blue...
Rosemary North

... Brief Encounter has taken on a different meaning.

Once, Britain was ruled by Victorian values. Love was a word used only in church or between consenting adults in the privacy of their semi-detached suburban villa bedroom. Valentine's Day was a rare opportunity for shy young virgins, male and female, to send a timid token of their love: bedecked in hearts and flowers, pink to denote affection, red to hint hesitantly at passion. The card would be ornamented by a poetic gem such as
Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
If you'll be Mine,
I'll always be True.

Valentines were never signed. Most of the pleasure of receipt was in
speculating about the sender's identity. (The truth usually brought
disillusion, but isn't that like life!) A discreet blush on the damask cheek of the beloved would indicate to the sender whether attentions were welcomed, feelings reciprocated.
Now hearts are worn on sleeves, and the language of love has evolved. Brief Encounter has taken on a different meaning. The Post-Feminist, Post-New Man generation doesn't need valentines. If a girl hasn't 'pulled' some really cool boy yet, she'll send him a text message saying something romantic like RELE N2U RU3 2NIT 4SX (really into you - are you free tonight for sex?) and boys talk about keeping their 'bitches' in line. Romantic poetry has been replaced by Eminem lyrics. Could this be connected with the growth industry in traumas involving domestic violence and exploitation that make such great family entertainment on daytime television?

Valentine's Day is nothing more than a commercial opportunity. Unsold Christmas merchandise vanishes at the start of the January sales and card shops blossom with wall-to-wall valentines, from individually boxed crimson satin hearts, retailing at ten pounds or more, to sexually explicit cartoon cards stuffed in stands erected specially for the occasion. But a card is no longer enough.

Chocolates come in heart-shaped boxes with wallet-sized price tags. Red roses more than double in price, and only a dozen will do - the eloquence of a single red rose is inaudible in our high volume society. Without Valentine's Day, February would be a flat month for florists, with nothing but funerals between Christmas and Mother's Day. Travel dot com sites also cash in by offering the essential Valentine's Night package to Paris, Rome, or New York. (If she's frightened of flying, try offering New Malden instead if she's ugly and you want her to dump you, take her to the Isle of Dogs . .
Fail to be lavish and she'll believe you don't love her. Pink fluffy dogs and padded satin hearts are passé. Valentine novelties are no longer about love. Every year they become tackier and more explicit. I will be avoiding the card shops until 15th February. Never again do I want to come face to face with a smiling pink velvet penis which, when squeezed, sings

Roses are Red, Violets are Blue,
You look so Fine,
I'd like to . . . .

I don't know how the verse ended. I didn't squeeze long enough.

© Rosemary North

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