***ing Valentine?s Day.  No sooner have you made it through the bleak, never-ending-horror that is January, then when without warning, we are forced to parade our relationships, or lack thereof, to the goddamn world.   Up and down King Street the promise of disappointment hangs thick in the air as shop windows fill with pink and red decorations, that make you feel patronised and desperate at the same time. In Jersey, Valentine?s Day isn?t just a relationship milestone ? it?s a bloodless assault course.

So what, I wonder constitutes a ?successful? Valentine?s experience in this island?  Having, frankly, in all my years never experienced a Valentine?s Day that wasn?t humiliating/nauseating/devastating/worrying (delete as applicable), I decided to ask a Jersey cross section?

The Jersey Singleton I spoke to is what I would describe as a ?once-burnt-twice-shy? girl, or rather a, ?once-burnt-and-if-you-do-it-again-I-will-set-you-on-fire-you-bastard? type of girl.  Her standards for a successful Valentine?s Day are as follows – Firstly, the man in question only gains points if he clearly confirms that he intends to marry her, thinks of her every waking hour and will never hurt her, though he has only known her for a week.  Secondly, he must not expect her to confirm the same thing until they have been going out for at least a year and she has had time to have him followed, check his phone bills and organise something called ?honey trapping?.  She broke up with someone for phoning an hour later than they said they would, despite his protestations that he had spent the last hour in A&E getting fifteen stitches and could provide medical records to verify his story.  She was not sympathetic and did not believe him.  With her, men lose points on Valentine?s Day for being, well just men.

I spoke to one half of a Jersey Power Couple, now a new mum.  Her husband gains endless thanks for simply watching the baby long enough for her to wash her hair and/or sleep.  It is unlikely that he will be in trouble for forgetting V-day, as she is so sleep deprived she?s not even aware what day of the week it is, let alone the specific calendar date.  When I asked her about her Valentine?s Day plans she replied, ?is it February??

The Jersey WAG-a-bee I interviewed was, as expected, a traditionalist.  Though not in a relationship at the moment, she has a strict points system for anyone lucky enough to be allowed to date her.  Expensive chocolates + vintage champagne + bouquet = 1 point.  Add on Michelin starred dinner = 2 points.  If dinner is in Europe for the weekend = 3 points (move to 4 points if they go away for the week).  To gain further points, he must buy her a car, and for 8 points he must propose with a 2-carat (minimum) engagement ring.  He gets a whole 9 points if there are matching earrings to go with ring and 10 points if?actually, she doesn?t give 10 points as a matter of principle.  Deduct all points if chocolate is not handmade and Swiss, if the champagne is not a good vintage, the flowers are not from the right florist, dinner is unrated, the weekend is in Eastern Europe (former communist nations are not her thing), the holiday is all inclusive, the car is not new or the diamonds are too small.  She believes she is harsh, but fair.

The slightly older, married woman I canvassed seemed cross. I am sure that she loves her husband, but I don?t think she remembers why.  He gains points on Valentine?s Day for doing anything nice at all, to give her a day off from fantasizing about what she would wear to his funeral if he suddenly died and wanting to throw her shoe at his head.  He must not however do anything so nice that he will expect her to have sex with him.  He loses points for doing anything that could legally be considered grounds for divorce. Or maybe that gains points?  She is undecided regarding this but has the number of an excellent solicitor handy.

And what about the Jersey men?  Well in terms of the male half of the Jersey Valentine Expectation Equation, all men seemed to have just two objectives 1) to not get in trouble, 2) to hopefully get laid.  Erm, fair enough guys! (See guideline overleaf)
So what will I be doing for Valentine?s Day this year? I suspect it will mostly involve hard liquor. Obviously I wouldn?t mind a

massive, romantic, surprise fuss made, but  what I?m really looking for is basically a nice guy who gets me. For instance,

he?d know that a folded note, secretly slipped in my pocket is better than a card, and daffodils are better than roses, because those things are more ?me?. I?d like a man to show that he knows me, that he?s paid attention when I?ve spoken?and noticed when I?ve sighed. And to be honest, my perfect gift would be a mix tape?

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