Rowan Pelling: Roses, scent, a de Beers ring, dinner at The Ivy - that should do it, darling

At last, I no longer need pretend that Valentine's Day doesn't matter


One of the brilliant things about marriage, from a woman's perspective, is no longer having to pretend you despise all the vulgar consumerist trappings of Valentine's Day. Once you've bagged your man, you don't have to feign indifference to roses, scent, lobster, champagne, Tiffany pendants, dinner at The Ivy, gondolier trips in Venice, Persian kittens on red satin cushions and mechanical nightingales whose liquid warble is a miracle of the craftsman's skill.

You can abandon that low-maintenance, girl-next-door routine and explain that ever since you saw that de Beers advertisement in the cinema where a male shadow presents a female shadow with a diamond the size of the Ritz, as an off-screen orchestra reaches an orgasmic, string-heavy crescendo, you've been wanting to say, "Gimme an eternity ring, then."

Is it just me, or wasn't that ad to adult females what the Teletubbies are to toddlers, creating a sinister and overwhelming urge to rush up and hug the screen? Although in adult males' eyes the ad just left them wondering, "What the hell's an eternity ring?" To which you said, "A breathtaking token of eternal love?" To which they said, "Well, what the hell's an engagement ring, then?"

One of the brilliant things about marriage, from a man's perspective, is no longer having to pretend you have a nanosecond's-worth of interest in all the vulgar consumerist trappings of Valentine's Day. There's a disappointing tendency for husbands to say, "I married you, what more do you want?" (An appropriate response to this is: "I squeezed your baby through my front bottom while howling like a wolf, kiss my ass and gimme an eternity ring.")

The average domestic male's attitude towards gifts leaves much to be desired. I bumped into a married male friend just before Christmas as we were both buying last-minute presents. "That for your wife?" I asked, checking out his basket. "Oh no, we don't give each other presents," he said. "Never?" I asked. "Well," he said, "not unless I saw something perfect, and then I would give it to her the same day." "Ah yes," I said, "I see." Because we all know this one, don't we? The greatest male-generated myth of all time: that they don't buy Valentine, birthday or anniversary presents because they're such spontaneous, Byronic souls that on any wet Wednesday they bounce home with an orchid, some Jo Malone scent and a cream satin bias-cut evening frock that you can wear to a tea-dance at the Waldorf.

Of course, there are men who buck the trend. Like male penguins, they constantly drop shiny pebbles in front of their partners and make other women wonder whether a spot of gene therapy with Dr Jekyll could activate a similar impulse in their own defective spouses. Take my dear friends Ros and Anthony, partners of some 17 years' standing. On the odd occasion I've dropped by their house around 6pm I've found Ant engaged in mixing his beloved a cocktail to await her return from work and making blinis with salmon or caviar. He's forever sweeping Ros off for weekends on the Continent, will confidently choose her a frock, and is the only man I've ever known to scour eBay for vintage jewellery. It's just not natural - especially in a man who's also handy with a plane and lathe.

Once I bumped into Ros on a train to London and, as we chatted, a little billet doux fluttered from her Filofax. "Oh, that's from Ant," she said, "he's always leaving me little notes in my pockets or diaries." That night I said to my husband, "Don't you think it's lovely that Ant leaves Ros little notes in her diary?" "Mm," he said. "Why don't you leave me little notes?" I said. "I do," he said, "And you ignore them. There's been a Post-it on the front door for a fortnight telling you to phone the Inland Revenue."

Nevertheless, I know from experience that it's possible to train a man to be a little more romantic. I find that persistent and very vocal yearning for a weekend in Paris may eventually be met with lunch at the Old Fire Engine House in Ely. You may find it useful to remind your man that the female brain is wired to reward the giving of presents with sex, or why do Peter Stringfellow and the penguins get so lucky? Or simply buy your own Valentine's card and hand your partner a pen and a stamp. In a world where there's only one Anthony, demand the moon and be happy with a few specks of stardust.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam