A Valentine memory of Casanova's call...
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Could it be the dawning of the most romantic day of the year, when love is in the air ... it’s all around us ... it’s written in the wind?
Yes, tomorrow is St Valentine’s Day, a day where everyone, even the most cold-hearted and cold-blooded, are inevitably forced to feel something.
I’m not a huge fan of the occasion, as you can probably tell. In fact, I’m downright cynical about it, but don’t let that put you off sending me dozens of red roses and boxes of chocolates, all of which will be gratefully received!
In the meantime I thought I’d mark the event by sharing with you a St Valentine’s Day memory from a few years ago ...
It wasn’t long since I’d got divorced and I had just joined an online dating website. Among the many potential cyber-suitors that had appeared in my inbox was someone who really caught my eye.
He described himself as a photo-journalist (ooohh, interesting!) who specialised in wildlife (even better!).
He was from Scotland and from his photographs he looked dark and swarthy, a bit like a young Sean Connery (hallelujah, my ultimate heart-throb!), so I decided to investigate a bit further and sent him an email.
I found out that he was working on a project in the Outer Hebrides islands, photographing and tracking migrant birds as they arrived from or set off to the Arctic, for a wildlife book he was compiling.
Or at least that’s what he told me.
As a life-long birdwatcher and keen naturalist, this was music to my ears. He was also well educated, articulate and intelligent.
Before long the emails were flying back and forth as quick as Cupid’s arrow. He became very romantic, very quickly.
“My darling, I have been gazing at your photograph. You are a truly exquisite creature! Your azure eyes remind me of a peacock’s dazzling feathers; your smile is to me as captivating as an exotic rare bird; your radiant skin as soft and as pure as a dove’s wing!” ... that kind of thing.
Now it did seem a tiny bit over the top, I must admit.
Nevertheless, it had been ages and ages since anyone had uttered anything remotely romantic to me and, well, it was a huge boost to my damaged and divorced ego. So I gladly accepted all his compliments and revelled in the attention.
Now it so happened that Valentine’s Day was just around the corner and this guy decided that it would be lovely and very fitting if we could actually speak to each other for the first time on that specific evening.
So far, for more than two weeks, all we had done was email each other. And, after all, you can often tell a lot more about someone by the sound of their voice and the things they say spontaneously than anything put down in print, so I agreed and gave him my phone number.
The plan was that he would call me from a village phone box (he said there was no reception for mobile phones on the island) at precisely 8pm on the evening of St Valentine’s.
Never before had a single phone call been so greatly anticipated!
I wonder what he’ll say? I wonder if his voice is like Sean Connery? I wonder if he’ll recite a poem or quote Shakespeare? I wonder ... oh my God I was so nervous I actually jotted down a few notes about things to talk about, in case I got all tongue-tied.
Eventually, the time came.
At precisely 8pm the phone rang. I let it ring three times even though I’d been hovering above it since 7.30pm. Well, you don’t want to come across as desperate, do you?
“Hellloooooo? Is that Frances?” he said in a Scottish accent more like Rab C Nesbitt than Sean Connery. My heart sank.
“Look, doll, I’ve only got a poooond on me, so we’ll have tae be quick!
“So go’wan, describe yer diddies will ya?”