Some of us are born romantic; some have romance thrust upon us. Some of us occasionally get it right by accident. I suppose honesty compels me to admit that I’m firmly in the third category.
Once upon a time, (but not actually in a galaxy far far away) my better half was in hospital after having a kidney operation. Anyway I did the whole dutiful husband thing, visiting and whatever. Yet on the horizon, Valentine’s Day was lurking. I pondered this. Admittedly not particularly deeply, and not particularly long, but I did ponder.
So I decided I’d buy a card. I went into the local ‘stores’ and looked at their selection. The problem with Valentine’s Day cards is that they’re either grossly romantic, the sort of thing you’d buy an aged aunt or grandmother, or virtually obscene. This card would inevitably be on display amongst the get-well cards by the side of a hospital bed so I wanted something appropriate. I found it, it was romantic, it was witty, and I snapped it up, happy to pay over a quid for it. I was even happier when it turned out to be only 26p.
So, card purchased, the job was sorted.
That evening, when I went to visit, I was ambushed. At the time there was a flower stall as part of the hospital entrance area and as I entered I was accosted by a young lady with a clip board. She obviously saw the panicked look in my eyes because she uttered the words I hoped to hear. “Don’t worry, this won’t cost you anything.”
I relaxed. Only a little, but I relaxed.
The young lady asked, “Who are you visiting.”
That seemed an innocent enough question, so I thought I could answer it safely, “My wife.”
“We’ve got a free prize draw, win a single perfect rose. Would you like to enter?”
I’d heard the magic word, ‘free’, so I nodded boldly and said yes.
So she asked, “Who would the flower be for?”
Pen poised, she asked, “Why are you giving the flower to her.”
I’m afraid I must have looked at her as if she was wet behind the ears. “Because if I gave it to anyone else she’d kill me.”
With the younger generation put firmly in its place I smiled and walked on.
Next morning was the 14th, when I visited that night there was a ripple of applause in the ward. It seems that there had been an announcement on hospital radio that morning; my lady wife was to be given a single perfect rose.
A male nurse, dressed mainly in sheets as a cherub, presented her with the rose and then fished about in among the sheets for the message.
“You husband sends you this…” here he checked his note, “Because if he gave it to anybody else, you’d kill him.”
But still, not bad value, the full Valentine’s Day experience for twenty-six pence.