Secret Valentine

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Eleven years ago, I was at drama school. Since school, I’d harboured a dream to be an actress and after a successful audition, was a student on an intensive acting course at a drama school in Birmingham. The course was emotionally and physically draining and by February we were all in need of a boost.

So, on February 13th 2002, my friend Cath and I went into WHSmith in the centre of Birmingham, and bought twenty Valentine’s Day cards. That evening, we both set about writing a card for every single student on the Diploma course so that the next day, everyone would feel special. We disguised our handwriting on each card by using different pens, opposite hands, capital letters…etc. so that each card looked to be from a different admirer. Then, in the morning, we seized an opportune moment and hid the cards on a table in Reception behind a huge bouquet of red roses that had arrived for one lucky person. Mid-morning, the cards were discovered and handed to us. Everyone took great delight in receiving them, and even more in trying to guess who the author/authors were. I admit to feeling a little smug when our drama tutor compared two of the cards written by me and said authoritatively, “They’re obviously written by different people”. Cath and I acted as baffled and excited as everyone else and it remained a secret between us until after we’d left drama school.

As I left the building that evening, the gentleman on Reception asked if I’d received my delivery.  “Yes, I got a card with everyone else!” I replied.  “I don’t mean that” he said,  “I mean the flowers”. And there, still sitting on the table that we’d hurriedly left the cards on hours earlier, was the huge bouquet of red roses.  Which just happened to be from a secret admirer, to me 😉

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My Funny Valentine #3

In the run up to Valentine’s Day this year, I’m marking the occasion by sharing a golden sample of my illustrious dating experiences.

On Monday, I recounted the story of “Fishgate” and yesterday, “Fringe Benefits“.  Today, I share with you “Pinter-rest”.

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Pinter-rest

A few years ago, I was seeing C and realised that Valentine’s Day was pending. I was reluctant to do anything at all, but when we talked about it one morning during the commute, he cried “We must!” in a voice too loud for a packed tube, and took it upon himself to make the plans for evening.

Knowing that I like both food and theatre (and probably in that order), he surprised me first with a meal. At McDonalds. Apparently it was an “anti-Valentine’s meal” – a stand against commercialism – which caused (him) much amusement.

Afterwards, we went to see a lengthy play by Harold Pinter. In the warm theatre, and after having stuffed himself with a burger, fries, onion rings and a chocolate milkshake, it wasn’t long before C dozed off, and for the first act, Pinter’s infamously long pauses were punctuated with loud snores from the Upper Gallery.

My Funny Valentine #2

I like Valentine’s Day. I love the role of bemused bystander, watching the girls in work expectantly waiting all day for a show of affection from their loved one, or spotting couples after work through restaurant windows sitting in uncomfortable silence with each other as they struggle to think of something to say.

This year, I’ve decided to mark the occasion by sharing a golden sample of my illustrious dating experiences leading up to the big day itself.

Last night, I shared the story of “Fishgate“.  Tonight’s story, “Fringe Benefits”, is below.

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Fringe Benefits

I was also fifteen when I went out with K. It lasted but a week, only this time I was the one who was smitten.  For a public schoolboy he was a little bit edgy. He drove a scooter and had a shaved head except for a fringe at the front. The Saturday he called round my parents’ home for our date, he’d fashioned his fringe into three thin dreadlocks which hung limply in front of his face. This, in my eyes, only added to his coolness. When I asked what he’d used to style his hair, “Window Cleaner” was the response.

That afternoon, we walked around the perimeter of Heavitree Park (twice), stopping off for a kiss at every other park bench. We walked hand in hand into town, had a McDonalds and later I waved him off at the bus stop. I was in love.

The following week, he waited for me every day after school to walk me home. Only I was nowhere to be seen. I found the strength of my feelings for him too overwhelming to even contemplate meeting him in person and hid in the classroom, paralysed by my passion, until eventually, he just gave up waiting.

Tomorrow’s story is Pinter-rest

My Funny Valentine #1

I actually like Valentine’s Day. Which is rare for a singleton. I love the role of bemused bystander, watching the girls in work expectantly waiting all day for a show of affection from their loved one, or spotting couples after work through restaurant windows sitting in uncomfortable silence with each other as they struggle to think of something to say.

Valentine’s Day this year will be spent like many others; by myself. Thankfully, my mother no longer spends the postage on sending me a card with ill-disguised handwriting. As well meaning as the gesture was, the charade of pretending I received a card from a secret admirer was getting a little tired by the time I hit my thirties.

This year, I’ve decided to mark the occasion by sharing a golden sample of my illustrious dating experiences leading up to the big day itself.

Today’s story is Fishgate.

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Fishgate

I was fifteen the first time I received a dozen red roses. I didn’t really fancy R, the boy who sent them, but he was smitten with me and told me so through the language of flowers. The only time I remember having a date with him involved me going round to his very large family house. He grandly showed me every single room, including the well stocked wine cellar during which he made his move. Unfortunately, that evening, he’d had fish for dinner and had neglected to clean his teeth afterwards. Our romance was short-lived.

Tomorrow’s story is Fringe Benefits

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