Valentine's Day: Wet smackers and too much mush
Valentine's Day is peeping over the horizon so put on your sunglasses because you're about to get caught in the glare of red helium balloons and sickly love mush.
Even if you weren't aware of the calendar, you could tell Valentine's Day was looming by retail windows displaying all manner of "giftware for her" promotions which nowadays stretch from the obviously romantic (perfume and lingerie) to the functional (a decent iron and a set of knives).
I've never been one for V-Day, proof of which will follow, so I'm not even happy to see this latest Valentine gift invention.
A London store, in the achingly hip area of Shoreditch, is selling a sort of "customised ex and hex" package for a bit of light-hearted yet legal revenge.
Scorned lovers are being offered "magical recourse" in the lead-up to Valentine's Day with tailored voodoo dolls of former flames.
The Voodoo Your Ex service costs [PndStlg]20 (NZ$40). Send in a photo of your former flame and choose your fabric (because witchcraft can be stylish too), then choose five afflictions. Say, male pattern balding, enlarged testicle and repellent body odour. You can even choose unfortunate situations, for example "zero Twitter followers" and having your "football team relegated". They are all stitched together into a voodoo doll for your pricking pleasure.
Or, if you prefer the more personal touch, for roughly the same price you could throw a glass of red over them and follow it up with a dry cleaning voucher.
The trouble with Valentine's Day is that once everybody realised they could squeeze a buck out of it, it lost a bit of magic.
Even McDonald's climbed into the act this year with one branch in America putting up a poster advertising a romantic Happy Meal for two and saying: "All you have to do is just sit back, relax, and enjoy your romantic evening with your date". And below that, the real clincher: "Featuring musical selections by Ron (who is presumably the patron saint of burgers)".
Myself, I have long been anti- Valentine. I've been like that since some kid called Mark pinned me down on the ramp to the library at West Primary School in Timaru during a February 14 game of kiss- and-catch and gave me a wet smacker right on the lips.
I was against it at primary school and I was against it as an adult living in London, though this was probably more to do with travelling home on the tube on Valentine's Day after work and being sandwiched between women carrying large handbags and large bouquets of flowers. Gypsophila brushing past the nostrils will literally make you snarl.
OK, so a handful of martyrs called Valentinus had the good fortune to die on the same date in February but it's a seemingly arbitrary day that drives up the price of one particular colour of rose. It's a joke. Or at least it's basic supply and demand economics.
The other thing about love is that it is represented by Cupid, a chubby, nude toddler and from what I know of chubby, nude toddlers, they do very little for romance (unless there is something very wrong with you and in that case, seek help).
I have always liked the idea of the anonymous note but stalkers ruined that for everybody, too.
Still, each to their own. If you're into it, good on you. Enjoy the day.
If, like me, you are not that way inclined, stick rigidly to this list:
1. Avoid all chubby toddlers carrying bows and arrows.
2. If you already have a stalker, identify their handwriting ahead of time. Call the police.
3. Do not get on packed public transport with women bearing bouquets. Especially if you have hay fever.
4. Avoid library ramps.
5. Do not leave the house.