Cotswold Mother with Emily Carlisle: Be my Valentine

PUBLISHED: 00:16 20 January 2012 | UPDATED: 20:56 20 February 2013

Cotswold Mother with Emily Carlisle: Be my Valentine

Cotswold Mother with Emily Carlisle: Be my Valentine

Surely it would speed up the buying process no end if Valentine's cards were displayed under relationship length instead of genre...

Cotswold Mother with Emily Carlisle

Be my Valentine

Surely it would speed up the buying process no end if Valentines cards were displayed under relationship length instead of genre

Since Christmas the shops have been rammed with cutesy teddy bears clutching red satin hearts, impaled upon racks of cards. Were encouraged to browse by genre (Arty, Humorous, For My Wife) but I cant help thinking it would be more effective to display them under relationship length categories instead. Surely it would speed up the buying process no end?

At one end of the spectrum they could have a small selection of You Havent Got a Hope In Hell cards, for the bearded IT geeks swooning over the girl in Accounts who wears the invisible skirt and cant work the photocopier. That range would be paired with cards suitable for Could Be In With A Shot If You Play Your Cards Right.

Moving down the aisle youd come to Still Counting The Relationship in Weeks, hen things could go either way and you dont want to burn your bridges by coming on too strong with your Hallmark. An oh-so-amusing black and white card about an elephant breaking wind hits a nice light note for a fledgling relationship; the two-foot tall gilt-embossed musical number with accompanying helium balloon and Stieff bear just screams stalker.

By the time you reach Six Months And Feeling Secure you can probably risk a tentative heart or two, but for Gods sake dont mention the L-word till youve been Together For A Whole Year. Fianc cards are duty-bound to be nauseatingly romantic, but its when you reach the Married section that a whole raft of sub-categories is really needed.

Newly-Weds can still get away with the hearts and flowers but by Five Years And Counting the ardour has faded somewhat and its back to the quips about breaking wind. The Parents Of Young Children section can be pretty small. Lets face it, youre both so sleep-deprived that you could be handed a piece of folded up cereal packet and you wouldnt notice. Fifteen Years Youd Get Less For Murder would be a rather dull section; obviously no-ones having sex any more, so no novelty handcuffs please just some Shakespearian quotes and a tasteful reproduction of some 18th century art.

At the far end of the aisle would sit the In It For The Long Haul range, where anything goes in the way of cards and gifts because youre either a) steadfastly in love and likely to remain so, or b) resigned to the fact that its better the devil you know.

This Valentines Day I am likely to receive four cards. One from each of my three children, lovingly smeared with Pritt Stick, glitter and unidentifiable bodily substances, and one from my husband, mercifully free from any of the above.

Each year I linger hopefully by the letter box, wondering if the postman will reveal I have a secret admirer. Not that Im looking for extra-marital distraction, you understand, but wouldnt it be exciting? An anonymous admirer, the only clue to his identity being the postmark, his handwriting and a predilection for Shakespearian quotes/Teddy bears/jokes about elephants breaking wind.

It hasnt happened yet. In fact the last time I got a Valentines card from someone I wasnt already in a relationship with, I was 14. I spent the rest of the term eyeing up likely candidates and stealing handwriting samples to compare with my by then dog-eared card.

Ive sent a few anonymous cards myself, over the years. I delivered several as a doe-eyed schoolgirl mooning about in the wake of testosterone-fuelled grammar school boys, daringly slipping cards into blazer pockets on the upper deck of the 280 bus. Nowadays I like to supplement my tasteful Coming Up For Ten Years card (delivered by hand with a cup of tea and a morning kiss) with the most garish Valentines missive I can find (delivered anonymously via the Royal Mail).

Gosh, who could that be from? I exclaim, my eyes widening in a performance worthy of an Oscar. I truly have no idea, my ever-loving husband replies, only mildly exasperated by this annual pantomime. Someone with bad taste in cards, it would seem. Cards duly exchanged, Ill be watching out for the Interflora van just in case my so-secret-Ive-never-seen-a-sign-of-him admirer decides to up the ante this year.

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