When I was a kid the St Valentines Day marketing machine had yet to get into full swing. I remember watching the iconic children's TV show Blue Peter as they 'told the story of how St Valentine's day came into being' accompanied by a montage of hand drawn pictures - where is that kind of TV now!!! And then they showed us how to MAKE a Valentines card - I'm not even sure that you could buy one in the 60's.
The whole point of the Valentine was to send it to someone you Secretly Admired WITHOUT signing it. It would get them guessing and the next time you were around that person you could smile in a knowing way and she/he might put two and two together. Oh, such innocent times.
Nowadays the card shops are full of red Valentine cards/balloons/mugs/cuddly toys/plastic roses/dangly key ring things/badges (Be My Valentine)/bags/wrapping/inflatable sheep. "For my Husband/Wife/Girlfriend/Boyfriend/Ex/Next/Newsagent. Every possibility is covered. I've just watched a news report where the Duchess of Cambridge (Kate) was handed some flowers by a little girl who said 'Happy Valentines Day'. All meaning has disappeared.
Me, I'd like a card with some gangsters on.
St Valentines Day was the day in 1929 when seven mobsters were gunned down as part of an on-going war of the hoods between Al Capone and Bugs Moran. It also featured in Billy Wilder's 'Some Like It Hot'. It's the event that puts struggling musicians Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in jeopardy. Once the gangsters know the boys have witnessed the killing they have to be silenced. Quipsters though they may be, Curtis and Lemon don't hang around long enough to try and talk their way out.
As we all know - and if you don't, shame on you, go and find this film immediately - their way out was to dress as 'Dames', join an all girl band and take a train heading for Florida. I don't know how many times I've watched this movie over the years but it never gets tired. Curtis and Lemon are on top form, Marilyn Munroe was never better.
So forget the chocolates and the roses and the Simpson's novelty Homer-Valentine underpants, the perfect Valentine's present for me? A night in with a magical Billy Wilder film.