Any holiday, event or occasion automatically causes me to reminisce on those from previous years. Does anyone else get that? I’m a contender for the Queen of ‘this time last year’ and every Christmas, birthday – even pancake day, for gods sake – you can bet that I’ll be thinking of what we did, who said what, what I ate, and a whole host of other things from the ones that came before.
I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your notice that Valentines Day is pretty much here. We know this because the shops are currently all packed with one or more of the following: red underwear, teddies inexplicably holding weird little cushions with embroidered words on them, confectionary in the shape of hearts, and ‘dine in for two’ specials which are just the just the regular dine in for two meal at double the price, and with the arrival of all the paraphernalia I’ve naturally started thinking back to previous years.
Commercialised and manufactured to make us spend though we’re all very aware that it is – we’re not idiots, it’s pretty obvious – I’m definitely not averse to a little Valentines or Galentines celebration (or both). I’ve always done something on the 14th, no matter what my relationship status has been, so I thought today I’d share some memories from the day of love in years gone by. They are personal and potentially embarrassing but they’re some of my favourite; the kind that make me smile or snort with laughter when they pop into my head while I’m just walking down the street – they’re also, I just realised, all days that I spent with pals rather than love interests. Of course, there’s no reason why you should care one jot about my previous Valentines Days, but I’m pretty nosy, so perhaps you are too. Let’s get cracking with some snippets of my V-Day history, shall we?
THE ONE WITH THE TOTALLY CLEVER ALAN REFERENCE
Let me set the scene for you; I’m in my final year of University. I live in a house with three other girls and two of them have boyfriends. My University boyfriend, who I’d spent V-Day the year before with, had broken up with me six months previously and while I was over the heartbroken, pathetic crying part, I wasn’t over that embarrassed, angry sting of being dumped.
Said ex-boyfriend had introduced me to Alan Partridge, which was strange since I am from city of Alan itself. There’s an episode of I’m Alan Partridge called Alan Attraction which involves Alan taking a lady called Jill to an owl sanctuary (that’s right). On the way back from said fantastic-sounding trip, the conversation goes like this:
Alan: Urhhhh…that is the best Valentines Day I’ve had in eight years.
Jill: What happened eight years ago?
Alan: I just had a better one.
Watch it some time, it’s fucking hilarious. It was one of my favourite parts and the ex-boyfriend and I would frequently quote it to each other. It was one of those ‘things’ you have with someone, I’m sure you all know what I mean.
These were the days where Facebook was really everything. Whatever you ate, said, did, or felt, you put it on Facebook. You Facebook status-ed every day, sometimes multiple times, and you could be sure that your ex, your pals, that cute boy you spoke to that one time when you were trying to find the right lecture theatre and pretty much anyone else would see everything you posted. If you wanted to say something to someone but you didn’t actually want to say it to them, you just had to write it as your Facebook status and it was job done.
My friend and I decided we would make it the official Best Valentines Day Ever. We were going to buy a bottle of Cherry Lambrini each, we were going to buy one of those Tesco Indian for two bags, and we were going to go to the Student Union bar and get smashed.
So that’s what we did. We scoffed microwaved curry, knocked back the sweet cherry sugar drink of dreams, put something cute that barely covered our butts on and got ourselves out to get pissed. There were heart print post-it notes, I seem to recall. They were stuck on people’s faces, potentially with rude words written on them, or something to that effect. I remember laughing a lot, but I think you had to be there. It was really a cracking time and my little heart felt very full – but no one panic, for it was not quite full enough to remove all traces of bitterness and spite.
The next morning, I wrote a status. ‘*Name of friend*, that was the best Valentines Day I’ve had in eight years’. I thought I was so clever. I am a terribly, terribly petty person.
THE ONE WITH THE LIST
I was very, very single on Valentines Day 2012. Maybe the most single I’ve ever been; there were no prospective dates on the horizon, there was no one I was ‘texting’ (remember texting? Cute) and there was no peripheral ex.
I had moved back to Norwich after University and a lot of my friends from school were either in a relationship or hadn’t moved home. I had taken to spending my every waking and non-working hour in the company of two of the best people you will ever meet. We had a penchant for sitting in our cars eating McDonalds and lamenting what on earth we would do with our lives (ain’t the post-university blues fun?), but it was Valentines Day, you know, and since these two were a better boyfriend than any I’d had before, we decided to do something a bit special.
The something a bit special turned out to be a trip to Bella Italia, because one of my friends might be a great person but she’s got kind of naff taste in special occasion restaurants.
It was a lovely evening. We ate pasta, I presume. We shared some kind of enormous strawberry, chocolate and cream dessert. The waiter went around giving all of the girls on dates roses. He did not give us a rose and I am still outraged about that.
The night took a less wholesome turn when a few wines later we decided to write lists of criteria for our next boyfriends with a biro on the Bella Italia red napkins. It was as cool (aka really horribly uncool) as it sounds, I assure you. It’s best that I don’t replicate said criteria lists here because it really is a bit too embarrassing, but I can tell you that they included things like ‘good height’ (what?), ‘likes dog the bounty hunter’ and ‘rugged’.
The waiter still did not give us a rose, but by this point – considering how loudly we were talking – I can’t say I blame him.
I still have a photo of the lists, because some rascal put it on Facebook. Luckily it was taken on a blackberry and it’s very blurry.
…not-so-luckily, you can still see that my top criteria was ‘Pulse’.
THE ONE WITH THE BEST FRIENDS
A few years ago I think I was seeing someone, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Luckily, he lived a couple of hours away, so it was easy to get out of seeing him; I very much considered myself single and wanted to spend it with my true loves aka the beautiful women in my life.
Galentines plans were go. We got dressed up, and planned to go for dinner together before heading out into the wild bars of Norwich for an official Mad One™. We ate pulled pork, ribs and burgers (I wasn’t vegan then FYI) and drank cocktails together. There is nothing funny I can say here, it was just a bunch of gals sharing the love and laughing about ex boyfriends and it was a bloody good time.
One of said beautiful women surprised us all by producing some gift bags from under the table and handing them to each of us. Inside was body butter, chocolates, and other little treats – but from our reactions, you’d think she’d just proposed to us all with a diamond ring, so thrilled and touched and enthusiastic we were about the surprise. After eating, drinking a bit more and paying, we went and danced sticky floors, clutching plastic cups of rum and coke and our mini gift bags. It’s still one of my favourite Valentines Day memories.
Whatever you’re doing for V-Day this year – whether it’s treating yourself to a long bath and an extra extravagant skincare routine, spending an evening with your gal pals drinking prosecco and eating a gloriously enormous dessert like the queens you are, or having a candlelit dinner for two with your significant other – I hope its just as full of love. (And also, I’d be delighted to hear about your favourite Valentines or Galentines memories in the comments, so hit me up with some stories – cute, hilarious or otherwise!)
What I’m wearing:
Jeans – H&M | Jumper – New Look | Boots – Dorothy Perkins | Hat – H&M
Bangle – C/O Lisa Angel (use code SOPHARSO15 for 15% off until 28th February)
Photography: Rob Poor