John Woodhouse on Valentine's Day: Nothing says I love you quite like a 7p Asda card
I'M sorry to report I've never received a single anonymous Valentine's card in my life. Not one. Not even one sent by my mum to make me feel better.
At school, fellow pupils would be sent dozens of mysterious missives. In fact, I remember a girl in our sixth form receiving not just a card but an entire bouquet of red roses, a matter explained shortly after when she left and married the maths teacher.
I tried not to let this bother me. I wasn't one to let crushing public rejection get me down. It was just coincidence that I watched Carrie on a loop and became mildly fascinated by arson.
Nowadays, Valentine's Day is part of my annual routine. I know for sure I'm going to receive a card from the wife. Although I find it slightly disturbing that the name of the sickeningly well-built landscape gardener down the road has been clumsily crossed out.
At least, though, I've never received Asda's 'Smart Price' Valentine's Day card, priced at 7p and branded with the supermarket's logo. The only thing in its favour is it's a very cheap way of filing for divorce.
I can see some men might buy the Asda card as a joke. To do so would be absolute folly. A woman might feign amusement but inside she's hurting badly. "Why," she'd wonder, "couldn't he at least have got me one from Poundstretcher?"
When choosing a card, my own preference is for something a little less mainstream. I'm not much of a one for all those cherubs and pink teddies. I tend to go for something rather more heartfelt. Last year I found a particularly touching one featuring a young couple walking hand in hand through the Bullring in Birmingham.
Similarly, I don't buy flowers. I see love as a living breathing organism, and I know she'll think fondly of me every time she mucks out that stick insect.
Some people, of course, say Valentine's Day has become overly commercialised. They tend mainly to be men. And you can tell them because they always arrive at work with a black eye.
I would actually agree that some aspects of Valentine's Day should be banned. Helium-filled love heart balloons, for instance. Did we learn nothing from the Hindenburg disaster? Similarly, I've always seen eating out on Valentine's night as an act of utter lunacy – couples clutching at conversation while a bloke on the minimum wage plays flamenco with the remains of a cemetery bouquet between his teeth.
Much better to get a takeaway curry and stick a romantic CD on – Slade, something like that.
There will, naturally, be those who've forgotten all about Valentine's Day. And, to be honest, I can sympathise with them. There's so many occasions you're expected to remember these days – anniversaries, birthdays, National Sausage Fortnight. I can't keep up with it. In fact last year – call me an old romantic – I decided the best thing to do was buy a job lot of Thorntons chocolates and just dole them out when necessary. I'm not expecting to break my anonymous Valentine's duck this year. To be honest, I'm more than happy not to receive one. It's a fine line between getting an anonymous Valentine and finding a crazed woman crouched behind your shower curtain.
No, I've moved on from my teenage disappointments. I just hope my own boys don't have to suffer the same fate.
I expect, when the time comes, I'll probably end up putting a couple of cards through the letterbox just in case. I don't suppose they'll suspect it's me. In these days of equality it's entirely feasible a female admirer might send a picture of the Transporter Bridge, Middlesbrough.