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PERSPECTIVE: True love? Yeah, sure . . . just pass me the Viagra.

Byline: RICHARD MCCOMB

Did you get a pretty fabric-padded card this morning, pull it from its ribbon-decked box and delight in the image of a smiling teddy bear cuddling a red heart?

Was there a single red rose lying on your crisp white linen pillow, morning dew dripping from a perfect petal?

Maybe your lover greeted you with a bowl of fresh strawberries and a frosted glass of pink Champagne before leading you from the bedroom to the bathroom for a seductive, warm, bubble bath for two.

Or perhaps, like the rest of us, you stared bleary-eyed at the clock radio, heard Cheesy FM playing Chris de Burgh's The Lady in Red ("This one goes out to Tracey in Bloxwich. Darren says he's sorry for hitting you ") and thought: "Oh, Christ, it's Valentine's Day."

It makes your heart sink, just the thought of it, all that enforced cutesy-cutesy behaviour, people thinking they have got to buy their wife/ husband/ boyfriend/ girlfriend/ lover/same-sex legally-recognised civil partner SOMETHING because if they don't they will look cheap, uncaring and, the worst crime of all, unromantic.

There is a place for Valentine's Day and it is in the playground, for school children. The trauma of the day is a vital education for life, teaching youngsters valuable lessons about the frivolity of infatuation, the cruelty of betrayal, the pain of ridicule and the cost of a box of newsagents' chocolates. It should be a compulsory requirement of the national curriculum.

Why people persist with a slavish adherence to the traditions of this dreadful day beyond the sixth-form is baffling, particularly among married couples and long-term partners. Surely they already know they love each other, or at least tolerate each other, without having to go through all the rigmarole of buying a naff card and a bouquet of forecourt carnations.

I recall being stunned when I was told Valentine's Day was the busiest day of the year at restaurants. Having worked on newspapers for a number of years I have seen plenty of press releases and promotions for oh-so romantic candle-lit Champagne dinners (with complementary coffee and Matchmaker chocolates).

However, I didn't realise people actually went to these places.

It sounds like hell, attempting to eat one's confit de canard with raspberry jus surrounded by love-crazed goons. All that feeding each other, dangling asparagus across the dinner table, positioning the slippery spears into a partner's gaping mouth and watching the butter dribble down their chin. Such crass exhibitionism makes my stomach churn.

Then there are the couples who send flowers to each other at work, just to make sure all their co-workers know how truly, madly, deeply they love and are loved.

In my experience, romance does not conform to a calendar date, less still does it require you to dig into your pocket and jump on the consumer treadmill in a public show of adulation.

So I won't be popping down to Harvey Nicks and buying a bottle of "Love Potion," which, allegedly, is "designed to have aphrodisiac qualities with a potent concoction of blueberries, passion fruit and herbal ingredients such as muira puama, damiana and passionflower." Muira puama?

If your sex life really is that desperate you'd be better off taking a cocktail of Vimto and Viagra - and trying sucking the helium out of the "I LOVE YOU" balloon that has just arrived at the office by courier service.

This and previous columns can be found at www.icbirmingham.co.uk/post/mccomb
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 14, 2006
Words:580
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