Mighty Like a Rose begins 31 years ago to the day, on Valentine’s Day 1984. I didn’t particularly mean for the story to start on Valentine’s Day, the more important thing for me was that it was the day it was announced that Princess Di was pregnant with Harry. The fact that it was also the day Torvill and Dean won gold at Sarejevo with their “Bolero” (possibly one of the most 80s moments of the 80s) and it gave me a chance to show that all was not well in the Ryder household was a nice bit of serendipity, and felt like the story trying to write itself.
Valentine’s Day has run away with itself over recent years, back in ’84 Mary could just be mildly disgruntled that Nigel hadn’t bought her a card (it’s not the worst thing he does) but now I know for a fact that tomorrow Facebook and Twitter will be a tidal wave of pictures of flowers and chocolates, and meals in skyscrapers, and #loveyoubabe, and it’s all got a bit competitive.
I’ll admit, I’ve been very grumpy at my partner for forgetting Valentine’s Day on more than one occasion (including our first Valentine’s Day together). His initial defence was (not unreasonably) “I didn’t think you’d care about that crap”, but after a few tantrums he’s got the message that I do care about that crap. It’s no guarantee of a card though. He’s not great with dates, or with shopping. As I’ve got older I care a lot less. A well-chosen card on a very commercialised day is less important to me than what happens every day. One thing I hope that comes across in the book is that big, expensive gestures alone are meaningless, or worse. What is important is a mutual respect, a willingness to support each other and respect each other. I probably don’t tell my partner enough (and he doesn’t read the blog) how much I value his support, his understanding and all the things he does for me.
I still want some chocolates though.