It’s time to crank the Barry White up to 11 and talk about LOVE. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, we at ZmG HQ have asked some of our friends what Valentine’s Day means to them. It ain’t all crotchless panties, a romantic meal à deux at Taco Bell and anal beads you know?

Kate Tunstall tells us;

Historically, Valentine’s has always meant a weekend away. I’m not a fan of the clichéd romantic getaway, just because it’s mawkish and that’s not really me. But, it so happens February 14th falls bang between mine and my hubby’s birthdays. So we’ve always used it as an excuse to go and do some local sightseeing, with an overnight stay.

Our favourite cities are Brighton and Cambridge – we’re suckers for the quaint Englishness of the cobbled streets and the clashing bohemian atmosphere. We usually try to get to a comedy gig, and treat ourselves to a nice dinner with a cheeky bottle of red. (It’s also become a rather dangerous tradition to buy proper fudge on these trips…)

Last year was somewhat different, as our daughter was 5 months old and I was exclusively breastfeeding. (Also, I think I expelled my last shred of romance with my daughter’s placenta.)

But what that means for us this year is… We’re back on. It’s on like Donkey Kong.

This will be our first night away from our baby girl and I am very emotional about that. To the point that nothing has yet been booked – under the pretence of ‘the actual weekend of Valentine’s will be extortionate’! But hubby is playing along, and I think in reality – though we both desperately want this weekend away – ideally she’d be sleeping in the hotel room down the hall from us.  Just. In. Case.

And so we can sniff her before we go to sleep. (If you’re a parent, you’ll get it; if you’re not, yes, it’s a thing. We like to sniff our babies, it’s the best thing ever. And a parent’s prerogative.)

So it may be a little later than Feb 14th, but we’re totally going to get through a whole bottle glass of red wine each, and we’re going to be so drunk on that entire bottle glass of Merlot. And we’re gonna have rampant sex all night without worrying about the neighbours sleep uninterrupted all night, without worrying about the baby. Or, you know, most of the night apart from when we wake up. To worry about the baby…

@JessHelicopter tells us about past Valentine’s Days;

I heard a friend online refer to Valentine’s day as a bit “eggy” the other day. It bought me much lols. It IS a bit eggy. And for teenagers and the single yoof of today (aging myself with a reference to yoof there) it’s probably a miserable-as-sin day if you don’t get that ever lusted for fluorescent pink envelope shoved through your box first thing. Especially if you’re a bit of a billy no mates. I wasn’t but I had a big gob and the boys especially were a bit scared of me. Plus I was a mega plain to look at. It’s basically why I trowel the make-up on now….to try and carve attractive features out of my plain Jane piggy-eyed, lantern-jawed face. So I only have a few Valentine’s stories to look back on with glee/horror.

My first memory was a bit creepy and I still don’t quite understand it. I was 7 or 8. In my first year at Junior school. One of the boys in the (then) 4th year (um, year 6?) had taken a shine to me and used to come to my classroom to chat to me every break time. Mark Grimshaw. He had a friend who came with him too. I decided to make them both cards for Valentine’s day. I wrote them both to “Mark” because I assumed that Mark and all his friend’s were called Mark. Mark the original came by my classroom that day with my card (heart burst of love!) to tell me that his friend wasn’t called Mark (heart shattering to tiny pieces!) I was so humiliated that I could never bring my young self to speak to him again. It was probably a good thing because I’m pretty sure it’s not normal for an 11 yr old to take such an interest in a 7 yr old. But I don’t know if they had “grooming” in the 80s….

So that was my first joyous foray into Valentine’s day. The next year I had managed to bag myself a boyfriend (ahem, ok I was an early starter) but I didn’t get any Valentine’s card because he was too embarrassed by my loud mouth that we had to have our love affair (!) in secret. This included a secret code where we crossed fingers to show each other we loved each other if other people were around. His name was Owen Tyzack. The only other Welshie in our London school (one of the main reasons I thought he was the biz!). Needless-to-say that didn’t last too long. I think I blabbed about him and got dumped.

I had quite a few barren years after that. Skip forward to age 11 when another creepy boy who tried to put his hand up my skirt sent me a Valentine’s card but then was too shy to ever talk to me when i saw him. Again, just as well because he made me feel a weird sick feeling in my tummy every time I looked at him after the incident with the skirt.

It’s not going very well is it?

After moving up to Wales aged 11 I went to a boy’s school which had just gone co-ed. I was one of only 10 girls in the school and the only one in my class. I was quickly re-named “mouth”. No one wanted to go out with Mouth. Not even Matthew Powell who was my big crush in his 70s style aviator glasses and blond poodle-curl hair.

After a year I was dragged, kicking and screaming to an all girl’s school where I had virtually no contact with males of my own age until 16. By that point the boys I met in our local “alternative/indie” bar were more forgiving of my gobshite ways and I managed to get a few boyfriends here and there. But by Valentine’s day my gob/teenage obnoxiousness had got me into trouble once more and I was ceremoniously dumped on Valentine’s night. I took it on the chin though and said “I was cool about it” and then spent the next year drowning my sorrows with Southern Comfort, listening to Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell and sobbing into my tie-dyed pillows. Ugh.

By uni I got it right though. I’d only been going out with my hunky Greek boyfriend for a few months when Valentine’s day arrived. I proudly handed over the Thornton’s chocolate heart I’d got his nickname piped onto and he handed over a brand new £400 12-string acoustic Fender guitar! True love at last! Within a few months he was history but my beloved 12 string is still in my possession 20 years later! Hoorah for Valentine’s day!

A previous guest writer for ZmG, @NorthernPeasant views Valentine’s Day with more cynical eyes. Or does she?

I would like to say that I’m not remotely interested in Valentine’s Day. I’m 42. Valentine’s Day is for kids playing tricks on one another. It’s for teenagers who want to tell their dream boy/girl they fancy them. It’s a day made into a circus by Hallmark. If you fancy someone why wait til Valentine’s Day to tell them? If you are in love then you should be bloody well showing the object of your affection that you love them every day, by making them a cup of tea, bringing their slippers downstairs or by opening your mouth and saying the words when they least expect it.

When I met the man I had been single for 9 months after an 18 year relationship/marriage. I wouldn’t say my heart was broken, I’d say it had been ground down gradually like the heel on my daughter’s school boots. I got married because I believed in forever. Accepting that wasn’t going to be didn’t happen overnight. I felt like a failure, not just for me, but for my children. I didn’t want them to grow up between two homes.

So, yes, when I met the man, I had resigned myself to being a single parent. I had no confidence in my own judgement. My self-esteem was battered and to be honest it still isn’t great. I wasn’t prepared to risk my heart again. It just seemed too hard and so unlikely. I’d had my shot.

Our relationship sprang unexpectedly from my phone. I would sit at night after the children had gone to bed and tweet. Interact with other folk with an eye on the telly and maybe doing a bit of work. I fell upon the man thanks to a retweet by a celeb. A picture that made me go “what the what the?” I replied. We followed. Over the course of a few weeks we tweeted; we emailed; we instant messaged on Facebook; we talked on the phone. For hours. And then for some more hours. I started to think “shit this could be a thing”, but quickly grounded myself with a “why would he want you.”

I could wax lyrical about how our love blossomed; how he travelled 450 miles in one day to take me to lunch; how our first weekend and every weekend together was heavenly, that I cried when he left and physically pined for him when he wasn’t here. But I don’t have a big enough word count for all of that.

What I will tell you is I am a different person from the one that met my ex-husband when I was just 21. But I do still believe in forever.

So yes, I would like to say that I’m not remotely interested in Valentine’s Day, but I can’t. I thought the whole love thing was over for me and now that it turns out its very much not I intend to embrace every opportunity to make a hoo-haa about it – and I do.

Of a similar mind is @Silly_Daddy75 who says;

Personally I think it is a clever ploy by card manufacturers, florists, chocolatiers and others to get us to part with our money!

Who decided that we needed a specific day to be romantic, do something special for our loved ones? What is stopping you from doing that any day of the year? On the opposite site of that if you receive a wonderful and romantic gesture out of the blue and you think “what has he/she done now?” or the other one “what’s he/she want now?” You ought to re evaluate your relationship. Are you just one big cynic or do you genuinely not trust your other half?

I decided a long time ago, and my wife completely 100% agrees with me, that the most I would ever do on the day is give her a card.

But really isn’t it a bit like all the other special days, like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, grandparents day etc? Don’t get me wrong since having kids I have found a completely new appreciation for Mother’s Day etc. The joy on my kids faces doing something nice for mummy is priceless.

Talking of kids I suppose my slight animosity towards this day comes from my own childhood. I did not have good memories of Valentine’s Day when I was younger.

Some schools encourage their pupils to make valentines cards. If you are, like I was then, a bit socially awkward or just plain weird ( as I was often referred to as a kid and not just by other kids ) you definitely dread having to try and make something for Valentine’s Day. Or God forbid you actually got a card and you manage to give the card to the person you had a crush on. It can have quite a profound impact on you if you are being made fun of especially on an occasion such as Valentine’s Day.

As I said, there is this one day in the year where it is expected of you to be all filled with love and be romantic, or with Mother’s Day, there is this one day a year where you are supposed to be extra appreciative of what your mother is doing / has done for you. Do we really need a special day to be romantic/ appreciative of the special person in our lives, shouldn’t we try and make a point to be like this any time of the year?

And so say all of us!

Thanks to our contributers for sharing their views, but what say you? What does Valentine’s Day mean to you and yours? Are you gonna do something special or is every day Valentine’s Day in your house? Is it your birthday? Is it an anniversary of something awful, or do you just ignore it all together? Please show us some love, and let us know what you think in the comments section.

Kate Tunstall writes at The Less-Refined Mind: A Mouthpiece on Motherhood, Marriage, and Mischief, @NorthernPeasant has written for The Face, MixMag and countless other organs, @JessHelicopter is Mrs Helicopter writes, and @Silly_Daddy75 can be found at MisterDoctorBeckyMark2. Please check out the rest of their work and thanks for reading.