I was 16 and Anne (known as Teddi) was 14.
Our parents were friends and her younger brother, Paul, went to my school and sort of hero-worshiped me. Had it been a private school instead of a sec mod he would, undoubtedly, have been my fag! As it was, he tagged along every day as I walked to and from school with my mates, begging me to let him carry my bag!
I think there was some sort of parental expectation that Teddi and I would become girl-and-boy friends and maybe in response to that, or in an attempt to prove to myself that I was ‘normal’ rather than ‘not’, I decided, one February 14th, to send Teddi a Valentine's Day card…
I can remember spending ages in the card shop choosing it and the accute embarrassment of purchasing it from Mr Cooling who had known me since I was five! What I can’t now recall is what kind of card it was: silly or sloppy, though it was probably funny rather than romantic…
Anyway, it was bought and signed with a question mark, the envelope was addressed in a disguised hand and the missive posted.
Come February 14, the telephone rings... My mother answers. Gales of laughter! It’s Teddi’s Mum phoning to ask my Mum to thank me for Teddi’s Valentine card!!
The sheer, toe-curling, face-reddening HUMILIATION!!!!
Of course, I vehemently denied it, but my parents knew from my stammering protestations and guilty blushes that it was all too true!
Maybe they were secretly pleased and their worst fears momentarily faded away... Who knows? But it was, for me, a small but devastating trauma! And it was to be a very long time before I sent another Valentine and that was to a real, genuine, bone fide girlfriend in my last days as a reluctant heterosexual before I finally gave up the pretence and went off after the boys instead!
Anyway, today, to my Valentine of almost 17 years (and to lovers everywhere) I say...
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
If you've ever wondered who VALENTINE was and how he became the Patron Saint of Florists and Card Manufacturers, here are a few links to informative sites: