Diary of a Crap Lesbian: Valentines?

A colleague calls my mobile. ‘I know it’s a long shot,’ she says, ‘but can you work Saturday seventeenth’? I reply positively and she is stunned. ‘Seventeenth February’? she asks again, ‘You know that’s valentines weekend’? Yes, yes, yes, I am painfully aware of the fact that this is the weekend that I should be holed up in some middle-of-nowhere country hotel doing whole manner of unspeakable things with my beloved on a four-poster, but the absence of said beloved suggests that this is highly unlikely. Thus, I am left spending the most romantic weekend of the year conducting investment reviews in Croydon. Jealous, ain’tcha?

My social life is mapped out for months ahead, with events pencilled in as far away as August (which has three out of its four weekends booked out already), yet every time I flip open my diary this weekend catches my eye. In years passed I took it upon myself to organize a little group therapy for my single girlfriends around February fourteenth. We would arrive en masse at a terribly snug little bistro where a our table, conspicuous by it’s size among the cozy tables for two, would be waiting. We’d enjoy hearty Italian fare and get liquored up on cheap cocktails, customarily proclaiming love to be for the weak and slighted lovers to be the cause of all our problems. My hopes for a similar evening this year were sunk at the planning stages when counting my single girlfriends. I got as far as two. One of those was myself.

I’ve allowed myself to feel depressed over this lack of romantic activity and beaten myself up for it. I am, apparently, a strong, independent woman. I have neither my looks nor my health in any great measure, but I have at least the capacity to earn and certainly I don’t need a partner to complete me. Still the thought of standing by while my (in all other aspects wonderful) housemates snuggle with their honey’s* loads me with anxiety.

Now, a history lesson. Saint Valentine, the patron saint of lovers, was by all accounts a bit of a slimy bastard. The legend refers to one of three martyrs, who are revered by men for acts apparently known only to God. Personally, I ain’t buying it. The associations of romantic love with their feast day seem to have emerged in the Middle Ages in Europe for reasons unclear.

I’d like to know who the patron saint of the terminally single might be. There are around sixteen patron saints of bachelorhood, but ‘bachelorhood’ implies that a temporary state, and I’m looking for one for the terminal cases. He was probably called Trevor and had excess ear-hair and a comb-over. Saint Trevor of the Lonely deserves a dedicated day to him too, even if I did make him up. March 8th, I reckon, it being a sufficient period after V-day to allow Hallmark to market a range of cards and gifts, but not so long that the Day of Doom is forgotten.

There is a patron Saint of spinsters, Saint Catherine. St. Catherine’s Day is 25th November. Send me stuff. **

I must point out that this Valentine fixation is not the only thing that has occupied me over the last few weeks. I have also been concerned with the dating game in general. ‘Ho ho!’ I hear you cry, ‘Our Crap Lesbian has something to say on the subject of pre-marital relations? I am all astonishment!’

Okay, you probably didn’t use quite that turn of phrase, but I have recently rekindled my love affair with Pride and Prejudice, having recently purchased the Andrew Davies’ 1995 BBC adaptation on DVD. It has affected my way with words and my piqued my interest in flattery, courtship and scandal.

Pride and Prejudice has long been my favourite novel. I’ve read it countless times (once justifying my lateness to meet a friend for coffee with the excuse, ‘But Mr. Darcy was about to propose!’) and I still get excited by Darcy’s witticisms on the ‘fine eyes’ of Miss Elizabeth Bennett. I like Elizabeth, she does after all share my name, but I identify more with the youngest Bennett sister, Lydia.

Lydia is immature and easily led. She brings a scandal upon her family by eloping with the dastardly Mr. Wickham while the rigid social conventions of Georgian England dictate that a courtship should be protracted and its participants toe the line.

At just fifteen years old Lydia is a feisty bird, ruled by her lust rather than the customs of her class. Had she been born, like me, in the early eighties she would not have suffered the shame of a runaway marriage in order to fulfill her desires. Nor would she have had her mind corrupted by the superficial necessity of marrying a man of title and money. Whether she would spend her Friday nights as I did at fifteen, that is pressed up against the wall of a nasty rock club by a Goth girl whose personal fashion concept is ‘consumptive’, is debatable.

Things definitely have changed since the days of empire-line dresses and bonnets, but I do admire the ritual and ceremony of it all (not to mention the heaving bosoms). While all that running around the country and attending balls with the militia does look exciting, I daresay the reality of the situation is somewhat different. With the liberation of women and the sexual revolution still some 150 years off good little girls of moderately well-off families like me and the remaining Bennett sisters had little more to do with their time than practice their accomplishments and wait for a husband. I am accomplished only in shoe shopping. My French is little more than average, and when asked if I play the pianoforte my answer echoes that of the other Elizabeth, ‘Aye, but very ill indeed’.

I should note too that, if Pride & Prejudice and novels of it’s ilk are to be believed there’s little room even the occasional same-sex tryst, never mind anything of more substance. Of course, this rule does not apply unless you are a) very very poor, in which case no one cares or b) very very rich, in which case you can do what ever the hell you please.

So for me I think not the waiting game. Should I wish to find a special someone to Be Mine on Valentines Day 2008 I shall have to seek that person out myself. The road to happily ever after starts with a single step; for me that step is ‘stop complaining and get on with it’.

Libby

*This later transpires to be false, since housemate A has a partner who abhors Valentine’s Day in all its forms and housemate B’s partner will be out of the country. The word that springs instantly to mind is schadenfreude, but don’t tell them that.

** There is also a patron saint of those falsely accused of cannibalism, which is handy to know. Her name is Saint Blandina and her fear day is 2ndJune. I love the internet.