- Met an old uni pal for dinner – she was in town with her hubby to see Cirque de Soleil, so we met for dinner and it was really lovely to catch up! We were never particularly close but always got on and kept in touch (in the way we do over social media), so we’ve never gone out of our way to see each other, but being a few tube stops from my work, it was too good an opportunity to pass up, and well worth the trek in the rain!
- I had a 10pm conference call. That’s definitely NOT a happy thought, but I met with a couple of the girls who were going to be on the call before it, and it was really good to chat and offload. I love my job, but it can be chaotic and stressful, and – much like most people I imagine – no one really gets it if they haven’t worked in a similar role and company, so sometimes nothing works other than sharing your troubles over a glass of wine. Or sparkling water in this occasion – we thought the wine would send us to sleep.
- As I didn’t leave the office we had our call at til nearly midnight, I caught a taxi home, and had a really nice chat with my driver. Sometimes I can’t handle smalltalk and just want to play a game on my phone or zone out and watch the world go by, but he was really friendly and lovely to chat too – nothing particularly deep, just about what he loved and hated about driving a taxi, how it gave him time with his family etc. I think London can be so cold and anonymous at times, but these little exchanges are everywhere if you’re open to them.
- Bonus one – even though I got home after midnight and Will was in bed, he had a cup of tea waiting for me. I have busy periods like this where I make his life hell, waking him up early when I get up, keeping him up late as I get back late etc – but rather than being annoyed at me, he feels guilty that I usually leave before he gets up and sometimes get back after he’s in bed and really looks after me. I’m a lucky girl.
- It’s Valentine’s Day. That means very little for me and Will, but I did rather enjoy watching some of the lovely romantic acts I saw today – personal favourite was one of my work pals getting some amazing looking doughnuts from her boyfriend who’s currently away in Dublin for work. Plus it gave me a legitimate excuse to buy Will an insulting card.
- And in our Valentine’s tradition of not doing anything romantic, we watched Point Break. And Girls. (New season – yay! Last season – boo!)
- OK, OK, I did get a couple of (non-slushy) Valentine’s presents… The boy done good.
With Valentine’s day looming, it’s time for a confession.
I suck at romance.
Actually that’s not quite accurate. I don’t really suck at it, it’s just that I hate the cheesy, tacky schmaltz that’s become known as romance, so I try to actively avoid it. Sure, I like flowers, but I’d rather you bought me a bottle of gin than spend a small fortune on two dozen red roses. Nothing says love like a gift with a limited shelf-life, destined to die.
And yes, I like chocolate. But I’d rather you bought me a bar of Lindt’s dark chocolate with Sea Salt when it’s on offer for £1.50 in Sainsbury’s than a box of soft centres from Thornton’s. That would prove you really know me and my love for sweet and salty bargains.
Teddy bears? Actually those I don’t like so much. Call me a killjoy, but that’s no present for an adult. They have no purpose. They don’t even serve as a joke present.
I think it’s at least partly coming from a very straightforward, practical, and frankly Scottish family. A few years ago, my dad gave my mum a Christmas card and didn’t even sign it. His response? “It says “To my wife” – who else was it going to be from?”. That’s not to say my dad isn’t thoughtful or romantic in his own way, we’re just not a family that goes in for any sort of unnecessary sentimental crap. My mum likes it that way – you should see the face she pulls if you give her a card with a soppy poem in it.
So I count myself lucky to have landed myself a husband that has more imagination. I don’t often get flowers, and I certainly don’t get them when I’m expecting them.
I don’t get a cliched proposal on top of the Empire State Building, but I get a really cool, unexpected one at the zoo which was reminiscent of Rocky’s proposal to Adrian and genuinely took my by surprise (even though I knew he’d made a point of seeing my dad to ask for his blessing a couple of months before our trip).
I don’t get chocolates in pink and red foil packaging. I get an entire healthy meal’s worth of ingredients peeled, chopped, grated and portioned out in tupperware so that when I get home, alone, late from work I’m not tempted to order takeaway.
I don’t get teddy bears. I get archery lessons that I mentioned might be fun 8 months prior, or a t-shirt printed with an obscure film reference or a DVD box set for us to watch together.
We don’t drink prosecco because it’s Valentine’s Day. We pop open a bottle because it’s Saturday. Or Wednesday.
What does he get? He’s a very practical chap, so he’d hate it if I spent lots of money on frivolous or extravagant presents he doesn’t need. This is a guy who’s literally *just* got his first smartphone because his 8 year old Nokia was still capable of making calls and sending texts despite going through the washing machine. Twice.
So I tend to get him what he wants, which is usually what he needs. Plus a few surprises thrown in because I’m not made of stone and I do get real joy in giving great presents.
But I just can’t take Valentine’s Day seriously. We don’t usually do gifts at all, and if we do we’ll set a very low gift budget. We tend not to eat out, and if we do it certainly won’t be on Valentine’s Day itself, eating an uninspiring set menu which is almost certainly mass-produced, lower quality and worse value than you’d get any other night of the year.
So I’m not giving in to the pink and red tat every shop tries to sell you from the second the Christmas cards are taken off the shelves. I’m staying true to myself and appreciating him in my own way. For our first Valentine’s Day together, I bought him a Mr Potato Head. And the card he’ll receive tomorrow calls him a knobhead.
Maybe I do suck at romance. But it works for us.
- Got Will’s Valentine’s card today. I won’t share in case he reads this, but it’s one of the best ones I’ve ever got him.
- The tube is a very angry place. It brings out the absolute worst in everyone. So it’s a rather happy moment when an inconsiderate twit pushes on before everyone’s got off the train, and as thanks for their idiocy they misjudge what space they have, get whacked in the face by someone swinging their bag over their shoulder AND still lose the race for the single remaining seat on the carriage. Schadenfreude is a beautiful thing.
- New black skinny jeans. So black, so skinny. No fading, make me feel like Catwoman. (Michelle Pfeiffer, obvs).
- Asos delivery arrived yesterday, so today I donned a new rusty orange top (£8 down from £25 – boom!) today. It’s a small thing, but sometimes that’s all it takes to put a spring in your step.
- On the tube on the way home this evening, I saw people fighting to give up their seats for an elderly couple. Every day I see people fight far too energetically for seats, get unnecessarily aggressive about claiming the armrest, manspreading and all sorts of other examples of bad tube etiquette, so this was an absolute delight to witness.
- Sometimes I take my hubby for granted – I’m sure I’m not the only one. But tonight I came home, worked out as he made dinner, he made me laugh goodness knows how many times just doing stupid little things, and then rubbed my shoulders while we watched TV – sometimes it pay to be married to a trained masseur. But more importantly, it pays to be married to a bloody lovely chap. What’s best, is that it’s not even a rare occurance. He does stuff like that every day. Just because.