It is traditional (although, actually, it seems I skipped it last year) for me, as a single person, to mark Valentine’s day with a facetious post. A post in which I pretend to be filled with bitter, twisted resentment at finding myself surrounded by heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and red rose bouquets – available for a reasonable price from all supermarkets, just a few shelves over from the laxatives and cat litter trays. A post in which I over-egg my opposition to the all-around orgy of commercialised sentimentality that the retail and hospitality industries find to be a useful way of boosting revenue in the slack winter period.
Usually in one of these posts I say some mildly disparaging things about Valentine’s day (); emphasise that I’m just play-acting, not really bitter (); and make the point that my disparagement of Valentine’s day does not imply disparagement of loved-up people themselves, to whom I wish nothing but continued happiness (just done that right here, so ). And then I close with some suitably anti-romantic song.
I had some candidate songs in mind this time round. I considered ‘Without You I’m Nothing’ by Placebo, but discarded it on the basis that it’s too genuinely heartbroken. I also considered ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ by The Smiths (“Sweetness, I was only joking when I said/ You should be bludgeoned in your bed’) and ‘Where Dreams Go To Die’ by John Grant (‘Baby, you’re where dreams go to die/ I regret the day your lovely carcass caught my eye’), both of which add humour to the mix.
But in the end I decided that I didn’t want this kind of thing right now. I’m still feeling pretty dreadful, with the depression bearing down so hard that I’m having a hard time keeping hold of even the slightest tatters of expectancy for the future (hope for the future is quite beyond me). In times like these – when the bleak weather inside my skull is matched by the sleety snow falling outside, and it seems like there is no spark of light or heat anywhere to be found – I have a powerful craving for warmer things. So here instead, for this wintry Valentine’s night, is a gentle song filled with longing for an absent other: a song for looking yearningly forward, not bitterly back.
This night and always, be kind to yourselves and each other.