Archive for February, 2012

If You Must Celebrate V.D. My Funny Valentines…

Ah, I have so many wonderful memories of V.D. down the years…

Picasso LoversPicasso – The Lovers

My favourite Valentine’s Day was in Hungary, where I lived with my lovely fiancé, who was a very romantic man but afraid of heights.  He took me out to this wonderful place on the Great Hungarian Plains then standing in a field of weeds, pointed to a row of couples leading up to a large wicker basket and said, “You are going up in a hot air balloon for your Valentine’s!” Yes, he did say YOU and not WE! 

As I floated up into the sky, a singleton in a cloud of couples, my darling fiancé waved at me from the ground like my Granddad.  I remember thinking, One day!  – One. Fine. Day! – this romance thing will kick-in like it does in the movies…

My first Valentine’s Card
came through the post.  It said, “Be my Valentime!” 

– Yes, ‘ValenTIME’!

The word was on the front of the card in BOLD RED PRINT! How could he have then misspelled it?!?

On the upside, the guy who worked behind The Chuck Wagon in The Grand Ole Opry (where I worked as a Barmaid) never looked me square in the eye again.

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day never measures up to your expectations, so, instead of getting hung-up on creating ‘romance’, why not just spice things up a bit by reviving some ancient mating traditions:

1. Get him to run naked through the streets of your hometown with a thorny whip, spanking all the bare bottoms of all the local women.  He will enjoy it no end and none of these lassies will ever flirt with him again (Lupercalia).

2. If your Valentine calls up to your window brandishing a single red rose, just chuck a bucket of hot piss over him.  This ancient mating tradition of Gardy Loo was the modern forerunner to the romantic Golden Shower and is still widely practiced in parts of Scotland today. Mainly on Saturday nights in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket.

Men Modern versions of this tradition also include regurgitating kebab meat over the object of your affection before kissing him. Men really get off on that shit.

3. But they do get their own back on their wedding day, with a tradition known as Blackening the Bride.  This involves the male throwing all manner of debris – sour milk, moldy cabbage, rotten apple-core and hot tar – over the woman of his dreams ensuring that nothing he ever does during their long and arduous marriage will ever be as harrowing. And for that, she will be eternally grateful.

Alternatively, why not stay in with a carry out curry and a marathon run of Come Dine With Me and just slob about in your comfies. It really is very sexy. 

These are just some of my suggestions to help you to spice things up a bit. But you can try a few of your own. Feel free to share them with us. And, remember, whatever you are doing with your loved one today, don’t forget to bring…


The-Kiss-Rodin_2480287bRodin’s, The Kiss

Valentine is like Santa… He doesn’t exist!

It’s a sweet tradition and a nice bit of history and folklore that has been hijacked by commerce.

The myth of Saint Valentine is hard to trace, he was like Santa in as much as he was drawn from folklore and legend and there were loads of him. Quite how he became linked to romantic love is not reasonably clear. There were a few guys called Valentine knocking about in Ancient Rome, there are eleven Saint Valentine’s in the Christian callendar, most of them martyrs with no love in their lives apart from a range of deities and possibly the odd donkey. Yes, some of them made sacrifices, but not for love, maybe for pies. Nobody knows.Pope Gelasius I declared a Feast Day for Saint Valentine in 496 AD, without really knowing who the guy was, just that he had done “something good known only to God”. However, it seems that Gelasius was just trying to deflect from the established, rather wilder feast, Lupercalia, which was some kind of Pagan key party taking place between 13th and 15th February and involving pairing lovers by pulling names out of an urn; an infant-suckling She-Wolf; a bunch of scone-baking vestal virgins; the sacrificial blood of a slaughtered goat being anointed on the foreheads of two young lovers then wiped off with milk-soaked wool; nobles and magistrates laughing and running naked through villages and whipping women on their bare bottoms with shaggy thorns to rid the town of evil spirits and to promote fertility (who needs IVF?) and, presumably, to give themselves perverse pleasure.

Interestingly enough, Gelasius abolished Lupercalia in the same year he declared 14th February Saint Valentine’s Feast Day – coincidence?  So, instead of thorny whipping, hysterical laughter and beast blood, a more ‘Christian’ approach to courting was encouraged, sadly.

Bring back Lupercalia, I say. 
So, who was Valentine and how is he connected to the card?

A nice wee fairy-tale, embroidered and perpetuated by the world’s largest greetings card company (who shall remain nameless), runs that in early mediaeval Rome Valentine opposed a law by Claudius II who, wanting to grow his army, banned young men from marrying. This Valentine was a clergyman who married sweethearts in secret and when caught was arrested. Then, the story goes, that whilst awaiting his imminent beheading he wrote the first Valentine card to the daughter of his jailer – of whom he had earlier cured of blindness with his magical hands. He wrote, “From your Valentine”.

So, anyone who believes this romantic story to be true also believes in healing hands and, no doubt, the Tooth Fairy.

Sentimental customs grew from this folklore and romance connected to Valentine blossomed and permeated perennially down the years. But, apart from the archaic fertility rite in Ancient Rome, nothing about romantic love connecting Saint Valentine can be found until Chaucer, who wrote these lines in his poem, “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”. But the date was 2nd May, the feast day for Valentine of Genoa, and a more likely time for birds to be mating in England.  Nevertheless, the love birds were born.

A court was set up on February 14th 1400 in France to deal with love contracts, betrayals and violence against women.  The High Court of Love selected their judges based on poetry readings (how very French!) and thus began the tradition of the now clichéd love poems written in Valentine’s cards.

The poem, “She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew, And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew” is from Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene, written in 1590 and adapted down the years in variant forms.  I remember writing “I like you in blue, I like you in red, but most of all I like you in bed” one year, rather innocently, on a birthday card for my Dad!!!!! with a drawing of him sitting up in bed, happily watching the golf.  A mortifying fact! Just mortifying. Still mortified even though he died a long time ago. Still cringing. Crrrringing!

In 1797, The Young Man’s Valentine Writer was published containing scores of sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. Embroidered lace and gilt-edged letters were exchanged containing these wonderful poems and other messages of love. And with the Victorians came the Penny Post, making sending letters affordable for all.  It was not long before custom-made Valentine’s cards were produced and sending them became very popular, not least because they could remain anonymous leading to racy verse from the otherwise prudish Victorians, but also because it made the card producers very rich.

In 1969, Pope Paul VI abolished the saint’s day on the 14th of February because the history was all a bit tenuous, and since we all know how unlikely it is for the Catholic Church to actually change anything, it must have been well dodgy.

In the UK, around 1.3 billion pounds are now spent annually on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, with an estimated 25 million cards being sent and around 15 million e-valentines cards exchanged.  Not to mention the money spent on glue and glitter by the cheapskates who make and hand-deliver their own.  That is absolutely the very last time I will ever date a student.

Business is business, and I have no problem with that; if that’s what people want to throw their money on, so be it. But is everyone who is sending cards and purchasing gifts actually sending the love? Or, are they just bowing down to a commercial holiday for fear of spousal disappointment?

It’s a sweet tradition, and a nice bit of history and folklore that has been hijacked by commerce.  Yes, I have had some fun and happy Valentine’s Days down the years myself, but I have also had far better romantic times on other days of the year. Seems clichéd, but, seriously, if you love your spouse/lover/gardener, why not tell them every day?  And if you want to give them gifts, don’t wait till Valentine’s Day or, for that matter, Christmas Day.  I mean, if someone wants to send me roses, chocolates or precious gemstones wrapped up in red satin, I will happily accept them any day of the year.

Sending the love 24/7

Billy Connolly, My Hero…

I have had Billy Connolly in my bones since I was a wee girl and now, as an adult, I still adore him as much as, if not more than, I did back then.  He is the reason I do comedy.  He has had a massive influence on me and my life.  He gave me permission to make fun of everything and go boldly into this world, daring to speak the truth and to have no fear.  He is like some kind of uncle-Godfather figure to me and now I get to write about him as part of my job.

I wrote this piece a week ago and, by coincidence, this week he was voted the most influential British comedian of all time.  I knew that already, of course, and to the Glasgow comics and fans, this comes as no surprise.

In recent years I have heard people saying things like, ‘Billy Connolly’s not funny any more’ and ‘The Big Man’s lost it’ and it infuriates me.  What more do they want from him? He’s almost seventy, for f’s sake!  And he was the one who started it for us all; there would be no Frankie Boyle, no Kevin Bridges, no Janey Godley without him.  He talked about the tragedy of the human condition; ‘life with the knickers down’ – and made us laugh at ourselves. He paved the way for the rest of us who dreamed of doing the same. But none of us can or will ever touch him; he is the original and still the best.

We must remember what he gave us: He has recorded around 30 albums, written three full-length plays for theatre, appeared in around forty films, made hundreds of television guest appearances – over and above his constant touring all across the globe and endless charity work for Comic Relief and beyond.  He has already given the world more than enough.  He is a genius and an inspiration to millions.  And he came from nothing.

This was published today in The List, and I couldn’t be prouder.  Gaun yersel Big Yin!  You are – and always will be – my number one hero!

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