I MEET Simon for coffee.
"Do you mind if I write my Valentine's cards? I need to get them posted today."
He very slightly sneers. "Valentine's cards? Cards? Plural?"
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I shrug. "Yeah... cards. A few"
"What do you mean, Valentine's cards plural? You can't send more than one Valentine's card. Valentine's Day is for secret admirers and single people. You secretly admire," he pauses to count the cards on the table, "five different people?"
"I might. But I'm not sending them cards. These are for my mum and my friends. Valentine's Day is about showing your people love and appreciation. With a card. And a little present. Preferably red and heart shaped. I love Valentine's Day."
"No. No, no. It's not for family members and it's not for friends. It's romantic love. Sexual love. It's Eros. It's not even for couples. I wouldn't get my wife a Valentine's card."
"She's divorcing you."
"Yes, well. I hate this homogenisation of celebration days. Gifts become something you give, not just at Christmas or birthdays. Cards for Mother's Day, Father's Day and Grandparent's Day. You can get Easter trees and bunting. Easter bunting. Little pendants of bunny and egg-splattered schmaltz. Easter crackers. Halloween crackers. It's all crackers."
"You're crackers. February has nothing to recommend it."
"I was born in February."
"Better luck next time. Why not have a bright little festival day in the middle, all about love? And use it to tell folk you love 'em. Why not?"
"Do you ever get any cards back?"
"Yes. From my mum. And my friend Janet."
"Well, there you go then. People don't like your weird interpretation of the festival. They don't want your love forced on them. You're just making them feel uncomfortable because you've bought them a present and now they feel guilty they didn't buy you one back."
"But I don't want anything back."
"Of course you do. You wouldn't expand the festival to meet your own ends if you didn't want validation of your friendships. You're just feeding capitalism."
"But Valentine's Day was invented by capitalism. And you say it's okay to embrace capitalism as long as you're a secret admirer but not if you're a friend?"
"If you buy presents for everyone it all becomes meaningless. Nobody knows what it's all for."
"I know one thing. I know I might just keep card number six."