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cheaper Valentines

Cheap but meaningful gestures appear to be the way ahead on this St Valentine's Day.

A survey by the retail division of the British Heart Foundation (and who better to seek the truth on such matters?) reveals that nine out of 10 women would choose a passionate hug or being the subject of a love poem rather than receive a gift of diamonds.

No, I don't believe it either. But in these times of straitened finances let's run with the concept of sincerity, not spending, as proof of Valentinian devotion.

Start the day with breakfast in bed. No need for culinary excesses. A cup of tea and a heart-shaped slice of toast will do, as it's the thought that counts. Leave time to pop back into bed yourself as the partner will no doubt wish to reciprocate with a heart-shaped roll and sausage.

Undomesticated males may sweep a loved one off her (or his) feet by performing a few household duties. Put on the marigolds and give the WC a thorough clean. Accompany this with a romantic poem about being round the U-bend in love.

Literal sweeping-off-the-feet can be achieved by a bit of vacuuming. Sit partner on the sofa and dash about with the Dyson. Similar surprises may be effected with the dishwasher, washing machine, and iron although much reading of domestic appliance operating instruction manuals might be required.

A simple expression of love may be to refrain from operating the TV remote control for the entire duration of Valentine's Day. Staying awake while watching television together is recommended as a token of affection.

But you will want something more romantic than watching TV. Have a shower whether you need one or not and splash on some of that irresistible Lynx stuff. Turn the lights down low (saving on electricity), put on smoochy music, and take your partner dancing in the lobby. Who knows it might lead to a sentimental visit down the back close, if you have one. Or someone else's back close if you don't.

You may be thinking of buying flowers. Don't. Say it with veg. A charming cauliflower or a bathetic butternut squash. Put the pulse into impulse with some lovey-dovey lentils. Then cook a delicious vegetarian meal. Better than a supermarket Valentine meal for two with Romanian horse.

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