We are approaching a difficult weekend of decision for lovers and would-be lovers. The trickiest date in the romantic calendar, the moment when erotic opportunity and disaster are finely balanced, is almost upon us.
What to say on your St Valentine’s card? Passion is important but too much of it, throbbing away inappropriately on a naff Hallmark card, can be alarming. Jokes are fine, but what if the target fails to get it or, worse, gets it but doesn’t laugh? There are few things more ruinous to a new relationship than humour incompatibility.
Etiquette guides, always useless when they are most needed, have nothing constructive to say about St Valentine’s Day. Fortunately, though, a few people in public life have been prepared to give this column a preview of what they will be sending this year. Some useful lessons on what to do and what to avoid are there to be learnt:
1 Try at least to be slightly romantic. Colette, the wife of the Tory MP Derek Conway, who employs her and (in a virtual capacity) has employed their two sons in his parliamentary office, took an approach which some might find rather too pragmatic:
I bought a card during working hours
For my husband, the famous MP
That’ll be £560
2 Turning to another politician, we discover that it helps to be personal in one’s approach. David Cameron’s St Valentine’s card is admittedly addressed to every voter in the country but still it somehow lacks conviction:
Roses are red
(No, maybe that should be green, everyone likes green at the moment, sustainable and all that, yes, let’s go with green)
Violets are blue
(or any other colour that you like your violets to be, we’re totally inclusive when it comes to colour)
If you vote for me
(or any of my colleagues, they’re all really great)
I’ll love you
(or like, or respect, or have a high regard for you, if you’re more comfortable with that)
3 Some people like to quote the poetry of Elizabeth Barrett, Browning or Keats to give their message a literary flavour.
A better idea, to judge by what Brad Pitt will be sending his beloved Angelina Jolie this 14 February, is to combine the personal with the historical.
Bob Dylan says:
The sky is on fire
And I must go
Ian Dury almost says:
There was Angelina
In the back of my Cortina
A seasoned-up hyena
Could not have been more obscener
Brad Pitt says:
Ain’t you glad
To be had
4 Most lovers will prefer to express their own particular character in their poems. Here is what Russell Brand will be sending to virtually anyone who is up for it.
You’ve seen my bookie-wookie
My pervy pixie face
How about some nookie-wookie
Right now back at my place?
No need for talkie-walkies,
Or witty repartee
‘Cos all I really fancy
Is ickle-mickle me
5 Finally there is the vexed question of anonymity. Tradition demands an enigmatic sign-off, but then entirely successful anonymity defeats the object of the exercise. Whatever you decide, try to be consistent, unlike this footballer in his message to the new England coach Fabio Capello.
My Valentine dream
Is to be back in your team
Who am I? Just answer this riddle
You can play me wide
Up and down your right side
But I prefer to be played play up the middle
From Guess Who???
Yours, David Beckham