14th February is a day which suits WhyNotSmile well, being, as it is, a day devoted entirely to despair and crushing disappointment, and an opportunity to shore up the already hard-pressed greeting card industry. You will have heard the story about the primary school in England which banned children from sending Valentine cards in case some of them didn't get any and were scarred for life. Now WhyNotSmile was that child, and can testify to the common sense of this approach, but on the other hand, the annual devestation afforded by this ritual was very helpful in shaping my well-rounded cynicism and lifelong depression, and so was not entirely a waste.
But how much do we really know about St Valentine? As it turns out, not much, except that there may have been lots of him as it was, inexplicably, a very popular name in Those Days. Thankfully, this has not stopped the growth of a rich tradition of making things up, and it is to this that we now turn.
One would think that being patron saint of love would keep one fairly busy, but now that Clinton Cards have been enlisted, old Val has a bit of time on his hands, which he uses to turn to his other charges, viz:
1) Engaged couples, happy marriages, lovers. blah blah blah.
2) Bee keepers. Which is nice. Because it is good that bee keepers have their own patron saint. It may also go some way to explaining why so many Valentine's Day cakes are inscribed with 'Bee Mine', even when they do not have pictures of bees.
3) Epilepsy. Because love and chronic neurological disorders go together like a horse and carraige, if the carriage has a chronic neurological disorder.
4) Fainting. See point 3.
5) Plague. Because St Valentine has something for everyone, even those of us who are more likely to catch the plague than receive a pretty bunch of roses and a nice box of chocolates from the man of our dreams. And those of us who would, in fact, rather catch the plague than see more of our time and money go towards the annual beefing up of salaries for the fat cats who sell flowers and chocolates and other nice things which we do not need and do not at all want, because we are quite happy with what we have, thank you very much.
And that is the spirit of St Valentine, and I trust we all feel better for it.