Tuesday 14th February 2012

Hello all

What a horror of a time I had today getting to and from the hairdresser. 

Everything that could go wrong went wrong on the way (on the bus), and then coming home, the same thing happened again! It was exactly like that night that the devil decided to try me and failed! At least I look nice. Now to go on …

This morning, before Geoff went off to a temporary work assignment, I told him it was Valentine’s Day. Note that I used the word ‘told‘ and not ‘reminded’. I did this because no gift or present is likely to be forth-coming and not for want of romance or thoughtfulness.

It is more that we are children of parents of the ‘Depression’ years and so we don’t care too much for Valentine’s Day hype. This is not to say that occasionally, Geoff won’t buy me a rose or a card but it is done more on impulse than due to planning.

Am I offended? Not in the slightest because I feel exactly the same! Still, we do manage to wish each other a Happy Valentine’s Day every year to acknowledge that this day has been put aside (promoted by the retailers no doubt) to celebrate that magic state of being: LOVE.

In fact, about five or six years ago we were both working and agreed we would make an effort to do something nice together and began planning. What to do? We mulled it over and found yourselves getting more stressed because nothing suited us and so we threw up our hands in despair and gave up!

This did not sit comfortably with me and the more I thought about it (without any ‘have to’ attached) the more creative my thoughts became. And so I came up with the solution. We went to a new hill-top estate not far from us with Dinner and Sparkling Wine nicely chilled and there amongst the myriads of spare allotments we positioned ourselves comfortably and watched the sunset over the mountains in the distance as we ate our Dinner. Simple is often best and we often talk about this “date” as a special memory.

I remember, In our earlier years of marriage, during a difficult time, and needing reassurance of Geoff’s love.  I did ‘remind’ him (and this included a lot of hinting also). When chocolates and/or flowers were not forthcoming that evening, I expressed my disappointment and questioned his love for me. Do you know what Geoff’s answer was? “Well, I’m here aren’t it?!” He’s still apologising for that one! But we do laugh about it.

The thing is, “not everyone has a love  lurking around” to use the expression of Lara Wild, a woman who is on ABC radio every Monday talking about outback Queensland. She is an amazing young woman, who does PR and always seems to be in a different town every Monday. She calls Valentine’s Day “National Singles Awareness Day!” Isn’t that delightful?

She talked at length last night about men in the outback and the romantic type of things they do out in the bush for their women. One of the more interesting things she talked of, was knowing women who find towns in the bush with a high men to women ratio and go there to live!  Cloncurry and Mt. Isa (for all you Queenslanders) were the best towns.

But I ask you, have you EVER been to these two towns? Please, they are dusty, dry and hot and not that far from Central Australia. I should know for I lived in Mt. Isa for six months in 1969. And yes, there were lots of men too but that was not the reason I went there! But that is another story for another time…

Getting back to Valentine’s Day though, you do realise that red roses are THE best seller on the day. I watched a show on TV on Sunday about happening in the bush, (which I love) and they featured a great flood recovery story of  a couple who lost everything in the floods at Grantham last year (and almost lost their lives) and  have now rebuilt their Rose Nursery 36 ks away. They decided to grow nothing but RED ROSES and concentrate on having a bumper Valentine’s Day after so much loss last year. Their roses were magnificent. So think of these people when you buy or receive red roses!

Now, I will ask you before I conclude, to spare a thought for those who have “no love lurking around” this year. Not all of us have a “someone” who will remember us (or even forget us!). There are plenty of people ‘out there’ who are alone. I spoke to two women at the bus stop coming home from the hairdresser today (and I missed two buses due to this chatting … could you believe? But they were so interesting and yes I got carried away). One lady was 89 years old and told me how lonely she was now that she was on her own and just when she got really interesting with her tale, her bus came!

The next lady (Robyn) that sat down in her place (ok, one bus now missed) told me that she had been married for 47 years but “really” she said, “I would have been better off on my own when I think back on it, he hasn’t been the best of husbands…” My heart broke. And just when THAT conversation was getting interesting, a fellow from my Book Club appeared in his wheel chair and parked next to me so I found out no more.

However, I introduced them and the three of us chatted more generally and then all of us missed the second bus because we hailed the driver a minute too late! Things were not going well.  But, then I got on the third bus and chatted for the next 30 minutes to my Book Club friend and he shared his story with me: telling me how he had an accident in 1978 (as a young man) and has spent his life on his own in a wheelchair. Yet he works four days a week and manages to do a myriad of interesting things.

So I believe I was meant to miss those buses. I simply love finding out about people and I had been privileged to spend considerable time having an insight into the lives of three people (two complete strangers) who, I am sure, would not be having any special gifts or dinners or flowers tonight. No. Robyn was having chemo for cancer and had the difficult husband. Mark was going off to work after an appointment. The old lady was going home to her lonely house (“why haven’t I died before?” she said to me “all those I love have died or are dying…”

So I say to those who have someone to love: appreciate and love each other every day and not just on Valentine’s Day.

To those who have “no love lurking around”, take heart and think of St. Valentine, for whom  the day was named in 496 A.D and who died a martyr . (It did not become a romantic celebration until courtly love flourished in  the 15th Century).

I  like the idea of some Latin American countries who celebrate love AND friendship on Valentine’s Day. 

But it just proves that it is better to be alone than to die a martyr like St. Valentine! Enjoy the day as best you can (if you can ignore all the hype around you).