x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

My funny McValentine

It's Valentine's Day and our correspondent bemoans the lack of romance in her male colleagues even among her good memories of McDonald's.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day boys?" I asked my two gentlemen colleagues one morning earlier this week. Both have other halves, both gazed back at me blankly. "Well, my birthday's so close to Valentine's Day that we might just do a meal for both," perked up one eventually, in what may be the greatest display of romance since Romeo swallowed a little vial of poison.

But it was, at least, better than the other colleague who continued to look blank. And faintly alarmed. Had he not heard Cupid's soft footstep approaching, flanked by an army of Hallmark nonsense? "Send bundles of love direct to their inbox," screams the greeting card's website. Yuk. Great bundles of vomit more like. Goodness though isn't the pressure on these poor men unbearable? Flowers, card, chocolates, dinner out, a weekend away? Oh the wretchedness of it all, and of (probably) getting it completely wrong in the end anyway. One tip for you all boys: best bet not take up on IKEA's offering this year. Several of its outlets are offering a Valentine's menu of smoked salmon, beef stroganoff and tiramisu. "Why not treat yourself and your loved ones to our special Valentine's meal offer available in our customer restaurant," runs the company's blurb.

Because it will end in divorce, that's why. Being a single girl isn't that much better. I am reminded of my excited, 14-year-old self whose diary entry some years ago read "got three Valentine's cards in the post this morning". The "three" was heavily underscored. But this all came to naught with the next sentence, which announced sadly "all from family". Pitiful, on all sides. Why couldn't they have just disguised their handwriting?

I have spent Valentine's Days with past boyfriends, once on a woeful singles' night (is there anything sadder than a gathering of singletons checking each other out on Valentine's night?) and most memorably, with my girlfriends - best of all was when we were about 19, and I was leaving for six months' travelling in Asia the next day. We stayed up late, laughed childishly at our own jokes and bought supper from McDonald's. Three Big Macs eaten from a paper bag on the Tottenham Court Road may not sound like anybody's idea of romance, but at least it didn't make us feel sick. Which is more than you can say for most Hallmark cards.