Caroline Verdon column: Valentine’s Days. You win some, you lose some...

PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation.
PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation.
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Valentine’s Day – for some it’s just another day, for others it’s all romance and flowers and for a few it’s a painful reminder of being alone. Most of us have felt all of the emotions at some point.

Discounting the primary school years, my Valentine’s Days were pretty ropey until I met my husband at 26. As a child I used to get a card from my parents accompanied by a heart shaped chocolate and that was nice but once I hit teenage years and my friends were all getting cards and gifts from boys, the only thing worse than answering “how many valentines did you get” with “none” was having to answer it with: “One. From my mum”.

I’d had boyfriends but we rarely made it to February 14th. In fact I can only remember two occasions when I did. Once I found out a boyfriend was seeing someone else when I turned up to give him his present and another time when I went out with someone who quite frankly wasn’t very nice who told me that he only did Valentine’s Day if he really cared about the person he was with (another reason why self-esteem classes in school are so important Know your worth kids!)

By far though, the worse Valentine’s Day I ever had was in February 2002. I was in my first year of uni and was living in halls and my boyfriend of 10 months broke up with me the week before. I was gutted.

All my housemates were either in relationships of had been asked out on a date for the big day whereas my plan was to sit in my room, alone, eating ice cream, alone, whilst watching reruns of Friends. Alone. Only it didn’t quite pan out that way.

At about 7pm there was a knock at the door. I trudged downstairs in my pyjamas to find my parents. They lived about 20 minutes away and to cheer me up thought they’d take me out for dinner. It was a lovely idea but they really hadn’t thought it through because when I say take me out for dinner, what I mean is that they had booked a restaurant for the two of them and were pretty sure the restaurant could ‘squeeze in another chair’.

The place they had chosen was packed. Being around the corner from my uni there were also a fair few people I knew in there with their girlfriends and boyfriends and then there was me. With my parents. My mum explained the situation loudly to the waitress. “She’s alone” she yelled. “Her boyfriend broke up with her” she went on. “Can you squeeze her onto our table?”. Everyone turned to look at me.

All of the tables were set up for couples and all of the chairs were being used so the waitress went through the kitchen to the staff room and brought me back a stool so I could perch like the biggest gooseberry known to man on the edge of my parents’ table. The stool was lower than the chairs so to eat I had to put my arms in the air like a child has to do when getting out of a high chair and into a normal seat for the first time.

The restaurant had a special set menu where all of the meals were for two – steak for two, leg of lamb for two, lasagne for two – you get the idea. We ordered anyway and with every course the waitress brought out she said: “Chef’s put the other half in a doggy bag for you so you can take it home and pop it in the microwave for yourself for tomorrow”. It was so humiliating. I opted to drink the wine for two there and then. As if the situation wasn’t as cringeworthy as possible, there was a live jazz band singing songs and dedicating them to people. No word of a lie they sung me a jazz rendition of U2’s “With or Without You” with the singer coming over to our table so he could hold my hand in pity. It was awful.

Dinner over and doggy bag in hand we left in silence and my parents dropped me back home. I slunk up to my room and went to bed safe in the knowledge that this would be all over campus by the morning. I’m not telling you this to relive the horror as I already pay a therapist for that but because if you’re having a lousy day surrounded by couples and desperately wishing you were one of them, at least you’re not being serenaded on a table for three.

A spoonful of chocolate spread?

Our toddler has been a bit poorly this week.

He’s been fine in himself but he’s got a double ear infection which has caused him some pain and subsequently his hearing has gone a bit dodgy and his only volume is full volume.

We took him to the docs who prescribed some medicine to be taken three times a day.

When I was a kid the medicine was always flavoured. Usually banana but sometimes strawberry. This medicine is not. The smell is putrid and given how quickly the first lot got spat out across the room, the taste is no better.

I’ve got friends who somehow persuade their kids to swallow it and others who mix it with yogurt or offer a reward but none of that works with Arthur. The only thing to work is chocolate spread.

I know it’s not particularly nourishing but it stops the arguments and that counts for something right?

Three times a day we’ve mixed his medicine with a teaspoon of chocolate spread and handed him the spoon and he’s lapped it up no questions asked. This was fine in private but he’s gone back to nursery today and still has two more days worth to take so we’ve had to admit to our slummy parenting.

“Is his medicine in his bag?” they asked my husband at drop off. “Yes. Along with some chocolate spread…”

Crazy cash in reality shows

According to the papers this week Gemma Collins is charging £13,000 to turn up to a nightclub for one hour. £13,000!

It’s crazy how much money there is to be made from reality TV shows. It’s not like she’ll even really do anything when she’s there – she won’t be DJing or dancing or anything, just sitting in a VIP area having some free drinks and posing for some photos.

With Channel 4 announcing that their new offices will be based in Leeds I’m thinking we ought to get in on the action and get them to film their new reality show here so we can get a slice of the money pie.

If anyone wants to help us put a pitch together for “Off the Birstall Road” then give us a shout! We’d be happy to give you a cut!

Caroline Verdon is one half of the breakfast show at Radio Aire. You can hear Caroline and Ant from 6-10am every weekday morning.