It's apparently become fashionable these days to be cynical about Valentine's day, and talk about commercialisation, and the packaging of complex emotions, and sexism, and the compartmentalisation of something which should be celebrated every day, and so forth, and I do see the merit in a lot of those arguments. But as with any of these things, your own Valentine's day is as good or as bad as you choose to make it, and fundamentally I think it's a good thing for humanity at large if we have a day set aside in our calendar to communally remind ourselves of the value of loving others.
This morning, from a warm seat on the bus, I watched a fresh-faced boy battling through drizzle on his bicycle, with a bunch of flowers clutched against the handle-bars - and that's nice. In the sandwich shop, they'd drawn little hearts on strips of paper, and stuck them along the chiller cabinet shelves - and that's nice. A girl walked along chatting to her friends, holding a lilac heart-shaped balloon - and that's nice. It would be even nicer to see it every day I guess, but the function of festivals is to remind us to foreground things which might otherwise slip our minds in the daily rush of life, and I think it's helpful for us to have Valentine's day for that purpose.
I can't actually participate actively, since I'm a cold-hearted beeyatch, and frankly the idea of being in a real relationship with another actual human being still gives me The Fear. But I see that many of you are bolder and brighter and braver than me, and to all of you who manage to do it successfully, I say hooray, and good for you. So if you have a boy or a girl to kiss today, give 'em a kiss from me. I may not play much myself, but it's fun to cheer from the sidelines.