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Monica Porter

The Perfect Valentine’s Day




Valentine’s Day bills itself as a celebration of romance, but if you are one of the country’s many singletons, there’s no need to feel left out in the cold. Life isn’t always about lovey-dovey togetherness, so if you haven’t got a date, why not celebrate the occasion on your own? As they say, you can’t love another without first loving yourself. So treat the day as an excuse to give yourself an old-fashioned pampering session, whilst reminding yourself of the upsides of being on your tod. Here is our helpful guide to indulging in an enjoyable day of romance-for-one.



Breakfast in bed

A perfect, leisurely start to the day. Load your tray with orange juice and freshly brewed coffee, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, toast and jam. Have the radio on in the background – for your favourite music if you want to relax, or the news if you must know the worst. Breakfasting in the comfort of your bed is a rare treat, and one you can easily provide for yourself. Whilst I agree that it’s good to have someone else make your breakfast and bring it to you, that comes with a price. At some point the someone else will get into the same bed and complain about the crumbs and soon you’ll be wishing they hadn’t bothered.


Close calls

During the morning call the three people who are closest to you for an impromptu chinwag. You don’t need an excuse. They can be your children, siblings, parents or best friends. And it doesn’t matter if they are down the street from you or on the other side of the world, or whether you discuss their recent visit to the dentist or your latest thoughts on the meaning of life. The important thing is that you care deeply about these nearest and dearest and the feeling is mutual. A clear affirmation that you’re a loveable human being, despite being single and without a Valentine’s date.


The prezzie

One of the nicest things about celebrating Valentine’s Day on your own is that you can choose your own present – far better than receiving something you don’t like and pretending to be grateful. The customary gift is a box of chocolates, but not all chocs are equally desirable. For example, chocolate-covered candied orange peel is delicious, but chocolate-covered brazil nuts are a bore. Likewise with flowers. Bring on the fragrant roses, but I would ban those sickly-smelling lilies, with their messy stamens which stain everything they touch.


The card

If you posted it on time, the carefully chosen card you sent yourself should be arriving about now. Obviously I am not referring to some schmaltzy card decorated with little hearts and containing a cloying message inside about true love. No, I mean a satirical card for people celebrating their single status. There are loads to choose from. How’s this for admirable self-irony : ‘Happy Singles Awareness Day. Have fun watching Casablanca with your cat!’ Another good one reads: ‘Nothing says happy Valentine’s Day like a bouquet of finalised divorce papers.’ And my personal favourite: ‘When your ex says “You’ll never find anyone like me again”, tell him, “That’s the point, you idiot”.’ For good measure, you can wear a button which says ‘Cupid rhymes with stupid’. Laugh and the world laughs with you, right?


Avoiding the aggro

Don’t let the everyday frustrations of modern life ruin the day. Your upbeat mood could easily be destroyed by any of the following: trying to park your car legally in an urban jungle plagued by incomprehensible parking signs and lurking traffic wardens; attempting to resolve a problem with your IT provider/fuel bill/bank statement/credit card by having a productive conversation with a human being at a call centre; endeavouring to book the most economical and convenient train ticket from A to B, anywhere within the UK. So stay out of your car, avoid calling any company with an automated phone menu, and put off planning for rail journeys.


The bath

There is nothing more soothing than a lazy, luxurious soak in a warm bubble bath. Dim the lights in favour of scented candles, put on soft music, have to hand a glass of your favourite tipple, cup of tea or healthy homemade smoothie…who needs to spend a fortune at a posh spa hotel? And thus ensconced, you are ideally placed to reflect upon the next (and most crucial) item on the agenda, namely…


The list

This isn’t a shopping list, to-do list or guest list for your next birthday party. No, my friends, this is the vital list of all the indignities you had to put up with while you were in your last relationship and from which you are now blissfully free. Of course the list will look somewhat different for each of us, as the nature of the injustices heaped upon a person in the name of coupledom can vary greatly. But relationships being what they are, the following entries are likely to appear on most such lists: spending way too much time with individuals you can’t stand amongst your ex’s friends and relatives; listening ad nauseum to your ex’s hackneyed anecdotes, which were never very amusing in the first place; fighting over the thermostat, with one of you complaining about overheating and the fuel bills, while the other complains about cold feet and sneezing; pretending not to mind about your ex’s terrible taste in films/TV shows/music/books, despite the cruel assault on your cultural sensibilities; and last but not least, grudgingly tolerating your ex’s irritating quirks and habits, which individually can be brushed aside but when added up form a teetering pile of irritations which threatens to topple over and engulf you. As all of the above is now history, this is truly a list to relish!


The dinner

The much-vaunted ‘Valentine’s dinner menu’ put on by restaurants is perhaps the most shamelessly exploitative aspect of this annual love fest. The occasion provides a cynical pretext for ramping up prices for the same dishes which on another day of the year would cost notably less, and for rip-off charges on Champagne. What a relief, then, to be spared this blatant fleecing by staying home. Which doesn’t mean you should spend the evening cooking for yourself. There is a wide array of gourmet meals-for-one available from the classier supermarkets, as well as from posh home delivery services, lovingly created with fresh ingredients and ready to be slipped into the oven. Beef bourguignon with potatoes dauphinoise and honey-glazed carrots, anyone? Wash it down with a nice bottle of vino and you’re laughing – especially when you consider that most couples paying through the nose to dine out on Valentine’s Day spend much of their time silently gazing into their mobile phones. (This applies particularly to married couples.)


And finally…

Later on, pop out for a stroll through the neighbourhood, along the high street, or round the block. Believe me, it’ll be worth it. For you will observe that the world has not, in fact, been taken over by couples enjoying a night of glamorous romance. Most people are just going about their daily business as normal. Sometimes, even for the most self-sufficient of us, it’s nice to know you’ve got plenty of company.