The couples’ camp bombarded not only the gift shops but also the supermarkets, clogging up the aisles while they deliberated over flowers, chocolates or toiletries in the 6 o’clock rush. They were prepared too, wearing the special goggles usually reserved for tube journeys, which somehow make the elderly, pregnant and most other Londoners invisible.
One Upper Street bar – whose manager was clearly fed up of dodging these blind, lurching things while popping out for a bunch of fair trade bananas – took an equally disarming stand. Amid the aggressive ad campaigns for match.com, eharmony and the news that even your virtual self could (and should?) have a date for the big V day, the bar found its own USP: it banned couples. And kissing.
Now I don’t like Valentine’s Day. It’s fake, forced and usually a let down, as a girl can’t help but get her hopes up that this will be the year when she’s forced to love it, despite all evidence, sense and experience to the contrary. But I still felt aggrieved, as half of a couple, that there was a bar I wasn’t allowed into.
It didn’t specify whether two single people meeting in the bar would also be banned from kissing, but I got the feeling that they wouldn’t be, as they were clearly not to blame for the stifling Valentines plague. Only couples are responsible for carrying that one, apparently.
However, if the run up to Valentine’s Day ran to a near delirious stupor, then the day itself was the antidote: cold, raining and dull, couples venturing outside were more likely to be found lugging overfilled shopping bags than long stem roses. Single friends and friends in relationships all told me they stayed at home to save money and stay warm, popping out for a meal in an affordable, comfortable setting. In the evening some fireworks screeched and popped over London, but fizzled out after a minute or two. Another terrifying pandemic reduced to a short burst of noise in the damp.