Wednesday, February 15, 2006

All Lurved Up...

Being as I have spent the last eight years attempting to become a romantic novelist (current wip, entitled Allotted Time, only two years in the making. My poor hero has been standing in his hallway confronting his ex since well before Christmas. It is about time I rescued him...), I really can't let the most romantic day of the year pass without comment.

I should mention here that I am married to the most unromantic man in the universe. Here is a man who regularly tells me buying flowers is a waste of money (He is totally immune to my cries of But that's not the point...), and once made me a heart out of dental alginate material. It took him years to remember whether my birthday was in June or July, he regularly provides Christmas and birthday presents late, and one year when he realised that he had forgotten my birthday (again) made me a card out of two bits of wood hinged together. Inside it bore the immortal words, Happy Birthday, you old bat. He also despises Valentine's Day as a purely commercial venture designed to lighten his purse and make money for the card and flower industries. So romantic he definitely is not.

The flowers things is partly my own fault. I read in a book somewhere that men start buying their wives flowers out of guilt when they are having affairs, and made the mistake of telling him... I know, I know. But look, I was very young at the time, and it never dawned on me that I would pay for that remark for the rest of my natural born days.

Still, he has improved of late, managing to whisk me off to Venice for my 40th last year (so all those years when I kept on about how much I would love to go there, he was paying attention), and I nowadays generally get birthday and Christmas presents on time. (It helps, I find that he has a nine and a seven year old to give him advice about what Mummy might like). And once or twice I have even had flowers.

But leopards don't change their spots, and quite frankly I wasn't expecting a great deal out of Valentine's Day. Although having been sent out on Sunday (Sunday???) to the local Sex Emporium that graces our shopping centre, to buy his Valentine's present, it was quite clear what he did have in mind.

Apart from having to take a deep breath when going into a shop which advertises that a girl's best friend is her Rampant Rabbit, I actually find going into these places hilarious. Once I get over my natural I-am-a-mother-and-therefore-a-frump tendencies, I can even have a laugh with the girls behind the counter who are all very helpful and are so much younger then me, they think working here is normal. Me, I can't help wondering everytime I go into shops like this what on earth the marketing meetings are like. They must be a hoot.

I always feel slightly panicstricken by the sight of all the more - ahem - novel items on display, so take refuge in looking at the bras, as even frumpy mums need them. And being as I am now the rather unhelpful size of 38B, I tend to look these days now more in hope then expectation. Once upon a time I was a rather more normal 34B, but that was pre-children and now I have ended up in a strange hinterland as far as bras go, and find it nigh on impossible to get them anywhere. So finding not just one, but to my amazement, three bras that fitted meant I was of course obliged to buy them all. Lord alone knows when such manna will come my way again.This cut into my present buying budget rather. But as I already have a wide selection of French lacey stuff with which to delight my other half (why is it always French lace? I suppose Nottingham lace, just doesn't have quite the same ring to it...), I opted to go for something a little more sensual instead. The only trouble is, the panic started setting in again, and I was seduced into a last-minute- grab-and-leg-it buy.

Which is how I came to leave the shop clutching a bag containing two big shiny boxes from the appropriately titled Sin range. One was meant to spice up your love life with the sensuous smell of rose petals, delicately scattered on the bed (I've always wanted to do that, but being of a practical nature, can't help thinking about the mess, and clearing up), while the other was to get you going with smellies and candles in the bathroom. All of which I hoped would help me rustle up what is left of my libido (precious little after four children I can tell you), and at the very least bring a smile to Spouse's face...


As this is half term, all the children were at home come the big day. No 1 has inconveniently sprained her ankle, so we have been stuck in doors all week. Talk about cabin fever... In between bouts of fighting and watching too much tv, I have been getting rather desperate to say the least. Yesterday, however, lurve was in the air and the children decided that it being Valentine's Day they all ought to be nice to each other. So, they spent most of the day making each other cards, and when they had got bored of that, making them for me and Spouse.

No 2 being the most touchy feely of our children was the worst culprit. She started by bringing me a card addressed to: Mum and Dad and loving sisters, (I don't know about loving sisters, most of the time they want to kill each other). Inside it proclaimed that Love is in the air. Where does she get this stuff from? It's not like we encourage her... By the end of the day she was maniacally cutting out hearts and leaving them all over the shop. Spouse got one in the entry to our bedroom, and I got one in the study. Thanks to all their efforts, my eventual haul for the day was about a dozen hearts, and seven cards. Somewhat better then normal then, and just what I would have been after as a teenager. Oh well...

Just before Spouse came home I was explaining to no 1 that he isn't very romantic, while making him prawn cocktail. Why are you doing that? She wanted to know. Because we're not going out, I said. I think it is slowly dawning on her that her parents actually have a life of their own that doesn't include her. But I suspect she also doesn't want to think about it too deeply. It's been enough of a shock to her to work out where babies come from. She probably doesn't need the added horror of thinking that her parents actually did that. Or still do for that matter...

My idea had been to get the sprogs into bed early and have a romantic tete a tete, over a lovingly cooked meal. But it being the holidays, I was later getting them to bed then intended. Plus our enforced stay indoors has meant everyone had far too much energy. So I was still settling the little ones down at 8pm, no 2 had only just got out of the bath, and no 1 wasn't even in yet. I chased her up to bed and then toyed with the idea of getting all Togged Up For Him. However, by now it was nearly nine o'clock, I hadn't finished cooking and I knew that no 1 would no doubt be in my bedroom at any minute to dry her hair. Having once had to hide under the bed from no 2 while in the middle of putting some sexy underwear on, I didn't fancy a repeat performance.

So I didn't bother with the Togging Up (is there any point putting things on to take them off, I wonder? Mr Maniac Mum, he say, yes), but did cook the meal. And a bottle of red wine later, it was time to try out the shiny new boxes from the Sex Emporium.

Oh how I wuz robbed, dear Reader... The petals were plastic and didn't smell remotely roselike. And there was a rather small bottle of some kind of massage oil, which pro rata probably costs about £100 a gram, whilst the candle set was just that. A couple of candles and some bubble bath which produced the most minimal bubbles I've ever seen.

Which goes to show you shouldn't be seduced by nice shiny boxes. Particularly when you're in a shop where you'd be embarrassed to meet your mother, so a tendency to impulse purchases runs high.

I'm beginning to see Spouse's point. Valentine's Day is a purely commercial enterprise for the card industry, and increasingly for Sex Emporiums.

OTOH, candles, baths. They kind of work for me...

PS. I did get: one red rose, Pride and Prejudice DVD and the Kate Mosse book. So the boy done good, in the end...

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