What Is Love?

Tomorrow sweethearts around the globe will drink a toast to mark a special day for the patron saint of love……. No, it’s not Chelsea footballer John Terry’s birthday, I allude to the perennial mid-February lovefest that is St Valentine’s Day.

Throughout the world, enamoured couples will make affectionate gestures like the sending of red roses, chocolates and fragrances, which will accompany cards containing soliloquys of undying love.

In some instances these cardboard clad salutations are the sentiments of a genuinely smitten suitor. On occasion the admirer could be of the clandestine variety.

An element, though, will contain the  disingenuous prose of a chancer. A charlatan who, as the sun sets, hopes for the opportunity to romantically utter those three magic words to their paramour,  “Brace yourself, love!”

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The priest Valentine was put to death in 3rd century Rome for undertaking marriage ceremonies against the express wishes of emperor Claudius II.

Cynics claim his ultimate sacrifice is no more thought of by revellers on the 14th February than is the 957 AD Great Barnsley Cheese Shortage.

These people (cynics not Barnsleyites), although admitting there is a genuinely caring element within the global family, proffer that many have agendas and are purely motivated by self-interest, with a solitary goal of fulfilling a primal urge.

Examples of these primitive compulsions being, ‘buttering up’ loved ones to weaken their resolve against a Sky Sports subscription; along with diminishing the ear ache they’ll get for attending the lap dancing club on Frank’s stag night in April.

In the 1980s, British pop singer Howard Jones posed the question “What is love?” …… I don’t know why he asked me, after all I was a 17 year old kid with little experience in the matter. I politely told him to ask my mate Chuffers who’d be able to provide him with greater detail (even if most of it was made up!)

To be honest, 30+ years hence I’m still no nearer being able to answer Howard’s question. What is love, indeed? I’m not sure there is a definitive answer.

If I had to describe it personally, I’d probably declare it as a recurring emotion that, like other conscious experiences, is intermittent of arrival and varying of longevity.

I don’t know, though, what the ‘it’ constitutes.

That being said, I’m not overly bothered that I can’t eloquently explain what constitutes love. After all, I read somewhere over the weekend not to beat yourself up if you cannot find answers to all existential questions. If nothing else, this advice will take the pressure off me during the local pub quiz.

How will I spend my St Valentine’s Day on Tuesday?

On the morning, during a ceremony of pomp and circumstance akin to the annual State Opening of Parliament, Karen and I will exchange cards in the front room accompanied by a lament from a solitary piper.

Last years ceremony was memorable occasion. As the haunting tones of the bagpipe emanated around chez Strachan, the melancholy of the lament was tangible. Moved to tears, Karen gave me a wry smile before turning to the piper to proffer “Hoy Jock! Can you play something more cheerful! After all, it’s bloody Valentine’s Day not a flaming funeral!”

Hopefully, the piper keeps it lighter this year and not perform Jayz’s 99 Problems again. As much as I like JayZ, I don’t really give a toss if someone stole the flake from his ice cream cone!

Other than the ceremonial exchange of cards with my wife, I’ve nothing else planned yet on the 14th February. I’d say at some point, though, it will probably involve online research about 957 AD Great Barnsley Cheese Shortage.

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