We don't do Valentine's Day in our house. In fact we don't do romance much at all. The Paramour set out his stall, on approximately day three of our relationship, thus: 'I don't do flowers, I don't do chocolates, and I'll make a fuss of you on your birthday if you like but you'll have to remind me because I'll never remember otherwise.' I thought the potential long-termism of this was romantic in itself at the time, although during the intervening thirteen-plus years, there have been times when I've felt under-romanced.
One of those was today. I'm working a lot at the moment, and the Paramour is working a normal amount. So he was away last night, gigging with friends and having a high old time, while I was here, soberly getting on with tedious tasks. He arrived home at lunchtime today, and announced that he thought he might go to London for the day tomorrow, to see some friends of ours. Then he trotted off to lie on the sofa and watch TV. I ground my teeth at the unfairness of it all. It didn't take me long, though, to realise that if our positions were reversed, he would be happy in the knowledge that I was having fun while he was so busy. But then he's quite often more grown-up about such things than I am.
When I'm feeling under-romanced, I remind myself of how incredibly loving and supportive the Paramour is. He cooks me delicious meals, fixes my computer when it goes wrong, reads my stories and gives me feedback. He listens to me whingeing about work (or anything else, come to that) and offers helpful suggestions, and he cared for me tenderly when I had to have major surgery a while ago.
He surprises me, too, from time to time. A few years ago we were staying with friends near Cambridge, and he decided to go into the city and do some shopping. 'Bring me back a present,' I suggested, thinking maybe a bar of Green & Black's. He came back with the most beautiful top in my favourite colours. I was gobsmacked.
Although he doesn't do chocolates, apart from the odd bar as above, he bought me a bag of Thorntons Viennese Truffles once, out of the blue, because I'd moaned about the unfairness of the Continental Collection only containing two when they're my favourites. Last Christmas Day he promised me a rose garden, and within weeks he delivered - we now have a border full of the most beautiful scented roses (well at the moment it's full of ugly scent-free twigs, but you know how it is in February).
The Paramour isn't verbally demonstrative. Compliments are few and far between. He does tell me he loves me from time to time, but he's much more inclined to show than tell. He doesn't go in for the creation of domestic rituals, and any cause for celebration generally involves a pub. We have developed one pub-based ritual that is almost sacred. It's the pub-and-pizza trip on a Friday night - or, if one of us is otherwise engaged on a Friday, the next available night. This involves ordering a pizza from our rather good local take-away, then going for a drink while it cooks. Not exotic; not really all that special; but it's special to us - so much so that we've even been known to keep the faith when abroad on holiday.
So as the Paramour was out gigging last night, tonight is the night for pub-and-pizza. A text from a friend reminded me that it's Valentine's Day. I suggested, gloomily, that maybe we should scrap the idea, as the pubs will probably be rammed. The Paramour gave me a clear look and said 'I'm not letting a little thing like Valentine's Day get between me and the chance to do pub-and-pizza with YOU.'
I was married, once, to a bloke who did romance. He took me out for dinner one Valentine's Day - I am not making this up - and in the middle of the meal he announced that he'd been using my credit card and had run up a few thousand pounds' worth of debt. I think I'm better off with the current model.