VALENTINE'S CARDS. LIKE DIVINE INSPIRATION AND A clear prcture on Channel 5, have always eluded me. At the age of thrrteen, when your card tally drrectly correlated wrth the number of frrends yOu had, I took the unprecedented step of affrxrng my name and address labels to anythrng wrthrn a 30-yard radrus of a man When the fat sarnt's day arrrved and the doorrnat remarned rnysterrously unladen, my hurnrlratron was complete,

Publrcly strrpped of a decent excuse, the frarl house of my teenage prrde came tumblrng down and left me exposed to the brtter wrnds of peer pressure, As I ran for the safety of a clotted cream eclarr, I resolved never to acknowledge Sarnt Valentrne or hrs Jauntrly cherubrc prmp, Cuprd, ever agarn Over the years, my

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rndrfference became spectacular - students of apathy flocked to wrtness rt rn all rts splendour. l wrllrngly subscrrbed to the growrng never-buy-cards movement and toyed for a whrle wrth a huge consprracy theory rnvolvrng Hallmark, the TV networks and sales of canned cream, related to me by a sweatrng man rn Cumbernauld trarn statron,

I found frrends, srmrlarly traurnatrsed, who were erlrng to bolster my rncreasrngly laboured objectrons wrth tales of schoolyard trauma and socral rnadeguacy, When Cuprd, the seedy hustler, eventually got me hooked, I felt confrdent enough to proclarm to the ObJOCi of my affectrons that thrs partrcular love Junkre drd not need her prescrrbed annual frx of romance, The brg day dawned and brought Wrth It a harsh lesson for both of us In true Wonder Years style, I learnt that, lrke most women, l was gurlty of wantrng to have my cake, eat rt and keep hold of the recrpe. And he drscovered that the lack of card was not a d-splay of respect for my belrefs, but a clear rndrcatron that thrs relatronshrp was gorng nowhere untrl he learned to rnrnd-read

Later, I resolved to enter the scarlet-hued hell that rs a \‘alentrne Hrgh Street and embrace the free

expressron of affectron. In the greetrngs card Bundersleague, 'Be My Valentrne' consrstently retarns the champronshrp and comes loaded wrth more meanrng than a Gold Blend ad. By takrng thrs standard eprthet and teamrng rt Wrth a never-endrng varrety of rmages and trrte rhymrng couplets, even the most stunted among us can free ourselves of our unchecked clesrres

So, love rt or hate rt, St Valentrnc-Vs Day rs one tradrtron that refuses to follow St Swrthrn and srnk rnto the mrre. Chrrstmas caters for sceptrcs by offerrng getaway breaks and good TV Easter rolls around and you can convert, But \t/alerrtrne's, lrke the Strathclyde Regron, has an all-encompassrng catchment area No one rs safe from the pressure to rush out and buy hastrly adapted Santas clutchrng hearts that lrght up

Love, not gmvrtatronal pull or complex astrophysrcs,

No one is safe from the pressure to rush out and buy hastily adapted Santas clutching hearts that light up.

makes the world go round and nobody can get off before therr stop, Faced wrth thrs unrversal truth, one can only ask why those rn love don't celebrate :1 every day and bankrupt thrs Fat Pardoner lrnrng hrs pockets at the expense of our ernotronal rnadequacres Those that aren't can take comfort that thrs year Valentrne's Day falls on a Sunday, tradrtronally a day of rest for our beleaguered postrnen and a once-every-seven-years excuse for a no-show on the card front

Gill Mills is on Radio Scotland, Suns 7—8pm.

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