At a party in a pub around Christmastime, I met a woman who said she had been in love seven times in her life. My mind was blown. “Seven times?” I asked incredulously. Inwardly, I screamed “WHO ARE YOU, WOMAN?” Seven is a lot, but really, so is one: I can’t say I’ve ever been in (romantic) love. I mean, I have loved people very deeply, and continue to do so. I (foolishly?) have no doubt I’m capable of being in love – it’s just not something I’ve ever experienced. Honestly, I don’t think it’s too far off the almost-tangible affection and devotion I feel for my family and friends, except maybe it’s tinged with something extra because of the element of choice: this is a person you have selected to love. And that’s got to be pretty powerful, no?
Anyway. That short preamble brought on by the fact that it’s St Valentine’s Day. Happy St Valentine’s Day! Are you celebrating it with a loved one? Nice. Alone? Also nice. I have no Paris weekend trip memories to give you here. For me, the most easily recalled Valentine’s Days were back in boarding school, when the dormitories rang with calls for packages from boys far beyond the school gates. I remember drivers – usually grizzled older men, bemused but resigned to the peculiarities of middle class courtship and love – waiting impatiently to deliver hamper of sweet and sickly gifts. I remember senior girls, hanging up their cards – always red and pink and awful – above their beds, and idly eating the confectionery that had come from the bakeries of Lagos. Best of all, I remember the quiet but naked envy in the eyes of the loveless, and the glittering triumph in the loved. We were teenage girls playing at being grown-ups, and it was great.
Will you be sending any anonymous V-Day cards? I’m a big fan of crushes (see here) and have always thought that nursing a crush opens you up to a more enjoyable state of being: I’ve got a couple on the go at the moment, and very nice they are too. As I get older, I am letting go of the “do something about it!” urgency that marked previous crushes. It’s just nice to have someone to like, isn’t it? Someone to think about when something pretty and romantic comes on the radio or shuffle? Right? Exactly.
And so. Whether you are in crush or in love, alone, coupled or more, here’s a quick playlist selected by yours truly. Only ten songs, less than 40 minutes, off the top of my head on a rainy Saturday morning, chosen for the wildly romantic sentiments collected therein. Swoon as Tony Bennett’s voice catches in The Way You Look Tonight: “O, but you’re lovely!” Rejoice in the euphoria of meeting someone new, as delivered in Disclosure’s Latch: “What did you give me/to make my heart beat out my chest?” Exult in the raw sweetness of Tammi Terrell’s All I Do Is Think About You, which sounds exactly like falling in love. Gently sway to the comfortable long-term love expressed in Madeleine Peyroux’s (Getting Some) Fun Out Of Life: “When we want to kiss/we kiss”. Yearn for a love lost with Nat King Cole’s These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You): “A telephone that rings – but who’s to answer?/Oh, how the ghost of you clings”.
Oh, don’t mind me. There’s just something in my eye:
1. The Way You Look Tonight – Tony Bennett
2. Your Love Is King – Sade
3. These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You) – Nat King Cole
4. I Only Have Eyes For You – The Flamingos
5. All I Do (Is Think About You) – Tammi Terrell
6. Call Me When You Get This – Corinne Bailey Rae
7. You Send Me – Aretha Franklin
8. (Getting Some) Fun Out Of Life – Madeleine Peyroux
9. Coles Corner – Richard Hawley
10. Latch – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
If you want, I’ve made a handy dandy Spotify playlist too, linked here.
Happy Valentine’s Day, kids.