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Monday 20 August 2018

Marisa Mackle: Spare a thought for singletons

So Valentine's Day is still going ahead. I have to say I'm surprised. I really thought they'd cancel it this year, especially with the general election looming, and the recession and everybody being miserable and everything.

It's mad having Valentine's bang in the middle of all the economic doom and gloom, isn't it? What will the men of Ireland do? Buy half a dozen of the traditional dozen roses instead? Will they go for a meal minus the starter and dessert? Will it be prosecco instead of Champagne? Portmarnock rather than Paris?

Whoever thought up Valentine's Day anyway? I wonder if they owned a restaurant or a greetings-card company.

I don't like Valentine's Day because it excludes singletons. We can't join in the craic. At least that's what I used to think, when I'd sit at home with the cat and watch something like When Harry met Sally. Now I'm rebelling. I've decided that this year I am going to celebrate Valentine's for a change. Who needs a man anyway? None of them care about roses or chocolate bunnies. They just pretend to for an easy life.

I've had my fill of depressing Valentine's over the years. Last year, baby Gary was one and I was probably in bed early trying to catch up on sleep. The year before that he was in hospital and I was home alone recovering from a Caesarean operation and worried sick. The year before I can't remember what I was doing, so it can't have been very romantic.

This year the baby's kind auntie is looking after him, so I'm going away. I won a bit of money on a scratch card recently and I was wondering how I'd spend it. Then I saw an ad for a romantic night away in a hotel down the country. 'A Valentine's special,' the ad read.

I called the hotel and said I'd like to book a room on Valentine's night. The receptionist couldn't have been nicer. She asked: "Would I like flowers?"

"Oh, yes please," I said enthusiastically.

"And Champagne?"

"Indeed, why not?"

"Chocolates, perhaps?"

"I'll tell you what," I said. "I'll go for absolutely everything."

The receptionist went on to ask me whether I wanted to book a table in the restaurant. I didn't have to think twice about that one. "No, thanks!"

Could you imagine? Valentine's night, sitting in a hotel restaurant at a table for one with a flickering candle and a rose between my teeth surrounded by couples? God, no. "Do you do room service?" I said.

She assured me that they did.

She took my credit-card details and then said she looked forward to welcoming me at the hotel.

"So just to confirm Ms Mackle, you want the flowers and the Champagne and the chocolates. And it's for one night only, bed and breakfast, no dinner."

"That's right."

"And it's a double standard?"

"No. A single."

"Sorry?"

"A single. The ad didn't say singles weren't allowed to avail of the offer, did it? So I'm coming on my own . . . hello, are you still there? Hello? Hellllloooo?"

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