My Not So Funny Valentine?

February 14th is normally associated with St Valentine, the patron saint of love. But there has often been a darker side to the date…


Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers and plague!

St Valentine is an elusive character. The only thing historians are sure of is that he was martyred then buried north of Rome. They’re not even certain if he’s one person or a mix of two. Most of the legends about him were made up in 14th century England, mostly by Geoffrey Chaucer. It wasn’t until then that Valentine became associated with romance.

Even since that time, Valentine’s Day has not always been an occasion for hearts and roses.

Elaine: There have been wars, battles and massacres along with many sporting events and memorial plays such as Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance Of Being Earnest” opening in London. Of course, we also can’t forget Aretha Franklin’s recording of Respect.

Francesca: Indeed. Though not much ‘respect’ was shown to Richard II who was starved to death in Pontefract Castle in 1400, by the man who became Henry IV. Nor to James Cook, killed in 1779 by native Hawaiians. Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand weren’t much into love for their fellow human beings when they issued a decree in 1502 that began the Spanish Inquisition.

telephoneElaine: The valentine’s card as we know it started in the 19th Century. Until then, any flirting and declarations were made through the coded use of fans and, in a more formal way, the giving of jewellery, with gems being set in order, so all the first letters spelt a word.

Francesca: On 14th February 1876, Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for the telephone. I guess after that, you could ring your loved one and say, ‘I just called to say I love you.’

Elaine: When I was growing up, I don’t remember it being about a gift or going for an expensive conveyor belt meal that was surrounded by commercial sentimentality. I do remember being excited and worried at receiving a card that had no name of the giver inside and looking at people I knew for days, trying to decide if it came from any of them. It wasn’t commercial; it was fun and feeling happy that someone fancied you.

Hum, I wonder if Al Capone ordered the killing of seven gangsters in 1929, known as The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, because he never received a card. Now there’s a thought.

valentine-houseFrancesca: Perhaps these days, Scarface could channel his violent tendencies into making films on You Tube, launched on Valentine’s Day 2005.

However you celebrate Valentine’s Day, we wish you all a good one. 






Love Is All Around Us, Or Is it?

Is romance alive and kicking? Elaine & Francesca give their take on it.

Elaine: It’s Valentine’s week. The week of love, romance, hearts and flowers. As romance writers, we write about attraction and love.Hearts

“Their eyes lock and she swiftly looks away.”

“Her body tingles at his touch.”

These are typical words from romance novels describing the first flourish of desire and love. What if you’re in a long-term relationship? What if you have children, does love and romance get lost as life takes over? How does the modern world and romance sit together, or don’t they?

I’m married, between us we have five children and one grandchild, my home is described as having a revolving front door. Or like living on Waterloo Station, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is a main train station in London. Would I change it? No, I love it. Family is everything to me.

Roses2So how do we fit romance into our lives? I get random texts during the day, when we are at work, saying, “I love you”. My husband will pop out for milk and return with a bunch of flowers as well. We are tactile people so there’s the touch of the hand, the kiss when we part company. When we are not in a position to touch there will be looks across the room, (I was so tempted to say across a crowded room).

The question is, do we need Valentines Day with its commercialism and pressure to make grand gestures. Where restaurant meals, in my experience, tend to be overpriced with extra tables crammed in. I sound quite cynical, but then maybe I am. For me love and romance isn’t about one day a year and no one should be judged on how they perform on that day. Love and romance is about all the little things that happen, and oftenLove taken for granted. When someone gives his or her heart and time to you, that is more precious then any amount of money spent on a gift or card. Let me know what romance means to you? I’m sure it’ll be different for all of us.

Twitter: @RobertsElaine11

Francesca: I agree about the commercialism, Elaine. I like receiving a card and flowers on Valentine’s day, and love going out for a meal, but it has all been rather overhyped as the years have gone on.

heart porcelain teddyDo we really need endless Valentine’s keyrings, mugs, cuddly toys, noticeboards, photo frames, figurines, notebooks, fluffy pens, lights, cookie cutters, tea towels, mittens, tote bags, measuring spoons, ice cream scoops and hot water bottles? These are just some of the items I’ve come across on sale this year for February 14th. I am ‘guilty’ of having some of these items myself, but at the same time get tired of seeing them rolled out every year even before the last of the yule log crumbs have been swept away.heart votives

Romance isn’t about what knick-knacks you buy someone.It’s a walk on the beach at sunset (corny but rather lovely anyway). It’s a glass of wine and a DVD, listening to your favourite music together by candlelight or a picnic in the country, stale sandwiches or otherwise. For me, romance is about being together.

love me do badgeTalking of favourite music, I didn’t know that my husband and I had an ‘Our Tune’ until a few years back when someone asked us. I was surprised to hear Andrew tell them it was Take Me I’m Yours by Squeeze. It was played a lot in our “courting” days (does anyone apart from our parents’ generation use that term anymore?) Normally it’s the men who are accused of not knowing such things!

So, do you have an ‘Our Tune’?

Twitter: @FCapaldiBurgess

Link: Take Me I’m Yours by Squeeze

heart house