Everybody knows that Valentine's Day is a giant orgy of commercial exploitation and a cynical distraction from our romantic failures over the rest of the year. It's traumatic for those people not in relationships, and hypocritical for those people in them, who pretend they fancy their partners when what they're really thinking about in bed is the company secretary.
The only people who win are the makers and sellers of greeting cards, and restaurateurs struggling with the recession.
Do you feel like you've read all that before? Well, my friends, you have. You read it in every newspaper and magazine over the weekend, you read it in yesterday's Daily Mail, and you read it just before 14 February every year going back that you care to remember. Even this great newspaper had a few choice facts in graphic form yesterday attesting to this case. But I am here to tell you that for the sake of yourself, your family, and all mankind, you must ignore all this caterwauling and get into the Valentine's Day spirit.
Here's why. Everything about modern life, from Twitter to Abu Qatada, is designed to make romance harder to do. This avalanche of information and stupidity is a massive and unforgiving distraction from the essential life-affirming business of being a lover. Yet every day there comes, pouring out of the greatest minds in academia from West to East, scientific confirmation of something we have known for millennia, and which the Beatles immortalised in song: love is all you need.
Love is not talked about much in political circles these days. But politics would be a worthier enterprise if its main aim were to increase the amount of love from kith and kin we all receive, because strong relationships, nurtured over time, are our greatest source of happiness. The demands of modern professional life put those relationships under unbearable strain, and it's high time we got our priorities straight.
If a bit of commercial exploitation is the price we have to pay for a nudge to be romantic, so be it. Romance is huge fun, quite cheap, and basically always worth it. So buy those roses on your way home tonight, slip that dover sole under the grill, and press "play" on the Frankie Valli CD that has been gathering dust in the spare room. It could be the highlight of your year, and it's only 14 February.