JANET STREET-PORTER: Roses are red, violets are blue, I HATE Valentine"s and so should you

Roses are red, violets are blue, I HATE Valentine's and so should you

Don’t call me a grump because I loathe Valentine’s Day — a phoney event driven by florists and greetings card manufacturers, and which has nothing to do with modern relationships.

We worry about bringing up little girls with pink toys, frothy frocks and pre-teen cosmetics, but that’s nothing compared to the rejection they’ll feel the first time they don’t get a card on Valentine’s Day. Even worse is finding out that your mum sent you one.

Valentine’s Day has been hyped into an occasion when couples send each other costly tokens they don’t mean, and pretend they still fancy each other. What utter hypocrisy!

Don't say it with flowers: Janet thinks Valentine's Day is an over-hyped occasion when couples send each other costly tokens they don't mean

Don't say it with flowers: Janet thinks Valentine's Day is an over-hyped occasion when couples send each other costly tokens they don't mean

Even our political leaders sign up to the myth. Cameron, Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander were all meant to discuss the Budget over dinner tomorrow night — until (we are told) their spouses complained because it’s Valentine’s Day. And so the nation’s finances will now be examined next week. Talk about the wrong set of priorities.

Any restaurateur will tell you that Valentine’s night is a disaster: a dining room full of couples who never spend more than ten minutes a day talking to each other (according to a recent survey) condemned to make small talk for at least an hour, with a sad red rose in a vase and a flickering tea light attempting to conjure up a romantic atmosphere. No chance!

I’ve already arranged to go out with my partner and a couple of gay female friends. At least we’ll have a laugh, even if those around us look miserable.

Do you really think that a bunch of horribly over-priced flowers or a cheesy card with a nasty red heart and a corny verse inside makes up for the lack of oomph in our lives for the rest of the year

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The sheer lunacy of women refusing to look their age



As a nation, we are failing at relationships. (The Government plans to offer separating couples mediation to try to stop the flood of court actions over the division of money and property.)

Marriage as an institution is on the ropes, with Nick Clegg trashing it at every opportunity and refusing to support tax breaks for married couples. And divorces are up 5 per cent as the recession places a huge strain on households.

The people most affected by divorce are between 40 and 44 and over 60. Life isn’t a load of laughs if you end up living by yourself in old age — and Valentine’s Day is hardly going to conjure up a friendly partner for the remainder of your days, is it

Last year, we spent more than 20 million on Valentine’s cards alone. Wouldn’t it have been easier to just scribble a few thoughts on a Post-it and donate the money saved to Age Concern — especially when care homes are spending just 2.27 a day on food for their elderly residents

I’d rather buy an old lady dinner than send a bloody Valentine card that will end up in the recycling bin by Thursday.

If we want to emphasise the importance of love in our lives, then let’s start with the elderly, the needy and the sick. When a man we’ve just met says ‘I love you’, we know it’s generally a ploy to get us into bed.

Most modern aids to romance are marketing inventions. Take ‘date night’. Dave Cameron proudly tells us he and Sam have these, as do the Beckhams.

That alone puts me off. Is ‘date night’ a euphemism for ‘a night we highly successful professionals lock the kids in another room and have nookie’ Just thought I would ask.

Even dodgy films like The Vow are touted as ‘perfect for date night’. Well, the idea of sitting in a cinema full of snogging couples makes me feel slightly queasy.

For the past week you haven’t been able to open a magazine or newspaper, or log on to any website, without being offered Valentine’s Day deals — weekends in over-priced country hotels with a bottle of cheap bubbly on arrival and a couple of chocs on your pillow.

Or you can spend 100 at Swarovski and get 10 per cent off — which doesn’t sound like a bargain to me.

Women I know who try internet dating in order to find Mr Half-OK have had very mixed results. The men rarely bear any resemblance whatsoever to their on-line profile, and it’s expensive, constantly getting yourself looking reasonably attractive in order to meet Mr Potato-head for a warm glass of wine before you make your excuses and catch the bus home alone.

The best thing to do on Valentine’s Day is tell yourself you’re fabulous. It’s cheap, and deep down you know it’s true!

Don't be bland, Kate

A hard day's work: Kate at the National Portrait Gallery

A hard day's work: Kate at the
National Portrait Gallery

The Duchess of Cambridge sailed through her first solo engagement last week, touring the Lucien Freud exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery as their first royal patron.

Kate spent four hours at the hairdresser getting ready for her debut. Does that count as work

Perhaps she was practising sitting still for her next big task — posing for a portrait to be hung in the gallery.

I hope Kate will be adventurous and choose a youngish British artist.

The NPG already has some bland Bryan Organ portraits of Charles and Diana, and our newest royal has a chance to break with tradition.

Tracey Emin could draw her as a cheeky sparrow.

Or award-winning Stuart Pearson Wright, who painted the Duke of Edinburgh with a naked chest and cress sprouting from his finger, could come up with something memorable. (His latest exhibition features naked tattooed taxi drivers.)

Or ex-stripper Stella Vine, who painted 30 pictures of Princess Diana in 2003, one of which was entitled Hi Paul Can You Come Over I’m Really Frightened Collectors of her garish portraits of celebs include Charles Saatchi, George Michael and the late Alexander McQueen.

What about Damien Hirst His spot paintings are showing at galleries all over the world, and he is our most successful contemporary artist.

He’s painted me as a gorgon — and I’m sure Kate would find the encounter memorable.

Amanda's back to work already

Forget maternity leave: Amanda Holden totters back to work on Britain's Got Talent three weeks after giving birth

Forget maternity leave: Amanda Holden totters back to work on Britain's Got Talent three weeks after giving birth

The sight of Amanda Holden tottering back to work in high heels and a tiny pair of shorts in sub-zero temperatures only weeks after having a baby is worrying.

Is she aiming for the Victoria Beckham prize for ‘commitment to career at all costs’

Having emergency blood transfusions and spending time in intensive care must be extremely exhausting.

Is Simon Cowell really worth this effort

Surely, bonding with your baby is more important than collecting fluffy toys from Ant and Dec

An inspector palls

For months, I’ve looked forward to Saturday nights on BBC4, with The Killing, Wallander and Borgen — all first-rate, intelligent, well-made drama series.

Last Saturday came proof that the BBC ignores what viewers want: the utter drivel that is Inspector Montalbano, a second-rate Italian detective series set in Sicily.

The BBC has already shown four of the ten episodes made since 1999, and they received negative reviews. So why foist the rest on us now

It’s thoroughly sexist. Any ‘old’ women in last week’s episode were all of 40, and the detective’s girlfriend had to get her kit off for some inconsequential bedroom action. Can the Beeb please dump this rubbish

Sun, sex and sweaty Italians are no substitute for Baltic misery.

Service with a sneer (continued)

I know why up to one-third of our High Streets are in crisis. It’s because customer service is an unknown concept in so many retailers.

I took a tube of expensive foundation that had turned into water a couple of weeks after I bought it back to Space NK in Chelsea last week — a journey that took almost an hour.

When I refused another tube of the same brand in case the same thing happened again, the assistant found me a substitute costing 8 more!
She took the money off me, and didn’t even offer any little free samples to placate me.

If you buy a faulty product from a shop, surely they ought to try a bit harder to keep your custom. It’s no wonder that people choose to shop on-line.