Happy 15th February!
How you react to that opening line will determine so much about your personality. If you are in a relationship, do not own a calendar or just have yet to find the TV remote from the bottom of the Christmas sweet wrappers (big up my piggy hermits), then this day will mean nothing to you. If, however, you are single (be it happily or unhappily) this statement screams one thing:
HALF PRICE CHOCOLATE DAY!
A day where (in theory) all the loved up couples can move along with their roses and stuffed teddy bears and make way while the singletons of this world feast on the leftovers. Granted, that’s a desperate and somewhat depressing way of looking at it, but that’s really what it’s all about.
For me it’s simply another year, another day eating cereal, another evening wondering if I should actually have a go at ironing that nice shirt I’ve only worn once. My Valentine’s meal for instance was this bad boy:
For me personally the day has no great bearing on my life in the same manner that it used to. Last year for example I proposed that single folk be allowed to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, alias Pancake Day, in the same over-the-top manner couples tend to apply to Valentine’s day. Still waiting for the Archdeacon and the Pope to get back to me on that marketing idea.
But although I don’t care about V Day nearly as much as I used to, I know and am sure of plenty of other people out there who probably do care about their single status at this time of year. How do I know this? Because I’ve been there. Let me take you back… (wiggle lines, wiggle lines…)
(This will help set the tone)
Back in the mid 00’s was a meh-time to be a young person in the Cotswolds. I studied at an average sized school with a uniform that basically consisted of a baggy jumper and long skirts, however because we were conservative in every sense us girls were spared the torment of wearing a tie. With my hair forever tied back and the world’s thickest fringe, at the age of 15 I was hardly going to win any beauty awards.
Into this mix of greasy hair and textbooks the school decided to up the social pressure. Every year around Valentine’s they set up a stall to encourage students to buy their loved one or crush a rose. You’d pay £4 (a pricey figure, just think how many Starbursts you could buy for that!?) to reorder and then ever year on, or close to, the 14th, students would come round form rooms reading out names and handing roses over to lucky students (often girls) who in turn would squeal and compare numbers received. Some girls got just the one from her boyfriend, others would t four or even five.
Guess how roses yours truly ever received.
Now don’t go all sympathetic on me now, you’re years too late. Looking back on it, the popular girls were in fact buying roses for their friends, or worse, themselves and by lunch time people were dashing about with wet paper towels in a desperate bid to keep the cheap, dead, things alive. Sat here now it seems like a joke. A highly profitable one.
At the time though I felt rubbish. Why didn’t anyone want to give me a rose? The world around me is screaming that this is the season of love. It’s in shops, online, heck, even CBBC is playing romantic episodes of cartoons, or that Tracy Beaker episode where she gets it off with that geeky guy.
Thank God it was a teenage phase and once at University it had thoroughly passed. But with all the lovey dovey stuff going on at this time of year it got me thinking: why isn’t there a semi-official day for those who are single? For instance, in China it’s actually a big deal, it’s actually bigger than Valentine’s Day itself:
Yet in this country (and the West in general) we don’t seem to do anything. Many years ago on the television show The Apprentice, the teams were tasked with creating a new commercial festival. One team came up with Green Earth day (kinda failed given you were supposed to send cards to each other), the other put forward the idea of celebrating single people (including widowers, single parent families and single people in general). They won the task hands down, the commercial companies only complaining over their choice of date. The 15th February was seen as too close to V Day.
Despite the companies declaring (much to their surprise) that The Apprentice had actually cottoned onto a brilliant idea, nothing ever happened following on from the show. A year later another series rolled onto our screens and the same companies went back to rolling their eyes at cat pyjamas.
Now I’m not saying card shops need to start radically commercialising another aspect of our lives, but does it not seem just a little unfair that we live in a society that openly celebrates those who are together, but not those who are not (even if the choice is not always theirs?) As a single person (oh yeah, by the way, I’m single) it would be nice to have a day which was unattached to V Day, a day where we could get cheaper cinema tickets, get store discounts or even go to somewhere knowing that I could have a good time and if Mr Darcy happens to be two rows in front then yippee there’s a good chance he’s single!
But taking me out of the equation, I think it would help those who find the whole V Day experience rather depressing. Here would be a day that says “you’re not alone, we all love you just as you are” a day where you can buy chocolate for yourself and not have to ignore the big “I Love You – reduced, now 50p” heart-shaped box. With the rise of social media in the past 10 years it’s no wonder that more and more people are feeling depressed. It’s bad enough with people taking endless selfies or boosting about their amazing lives, but Valentine’s just takes it one stage further. One overrated event is blown vastly out of proportion and we have nothing to balance it out.
Again, I’d like to stress that despite my rantiness over the subject, I personally do not have any feelings towards Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, when I actually do go through the 14th February for the first time with boyfriend in tow I’m sure I’ll be absolutely unbearable. There’ll be chocolate and teddy bears and expensive meals galore (at least one of us will be getting that at least). But right now I don’t see the harm in bringing in a National Singles Day, at least trying it out. The best thing I ever received on Valentine’s was a bag of fingers and this message from my housemate while at University:
It was a little message but it meant so much. It also came around the same time that I finally started to realise that I didn’t need to change or be made to change to fit in or be liked. I was thoroughly respected and loved already. We often say or think things but don’t realise how much a difference it can make to someone to see it written down.
If the commercial companies are failing to acknowledge and clock onto the single market, then what’s to stop us creating one for ourselves. A card, a posit note, just once day where we can say to someone “you’re single and that’s actually not a bad thing. You’re pretty awesome and I wouldn’t want you any other way. Now, lets watch Bake Off.”
Oh, and FYI supermarkets, I know what your game is. I w into several of your establishments today and found no trace of reduced chocolate. Try and palm off your roses on me? Hah! Keep them! You can try and convince us as much as you like to try and buy full price Easter chocolate instead but seriously how stupid do you think we are. Never underestimate us singletons. We don’t have to think about others when we shop. Our standards may be low but by golly or savviness and spending potential is high. And don’t you go forgetting that.