Thursday, 13 February 2014

13/02/14 - Last-minute Valentine

Ah, Valentine’s Day. That annual shot-in-the-arm for the chocolate industry that adds a healthy pink glow to the high street. Some of you will be planning romantic weekends away. Some will have booked a table at the restaurant you took your partner to on your first date, or will have rented your favourite movie, or sorted out something more bedroom-related.
…but some of you will be reading this in a state of hair-on-fire panic, having realised that Valentine’s Day has once again crept up on you while you were busy with other things. Your loved one is at risk of feeling a little less loved when they realise that you don’t seem to give one single solitary shit about that lobe of their brain that processes romance. You heartless oaf. Do you honestly think that a bunch of cheap flowers from the petrol station will save you?

Well, actually, it might. In fact, for the less well-ordered person who wishes to make a genuine gesture but lacks the organisational skills to get something significant in the bag, your local petrol station offers many viable options. Behold:

A bunch of flowers
The sorry bunch of petrol station flowers has long been a symbol of the uncommitted. But when you think about it, does that actually matter? Your loved one will be glad to receive a bunch of flowers regardless of provenance, surely? Just make sure you peel off the Shell label, weed out the brown bits, and stick it all in a nice vase. Flowers are flowers, and it’s all in the presentation.
The thought, as they say, is what counts. OK, you didn’t put a lot of thought into it, but it’s a thought…

Some petrol
This makes perfect sense. If you’re going to the petrol station anyway, why not borrow his or her car and fill the tank up for them? It’s a reasonably expensive gift, and it’s something they’ll actually use. You’re effectively giving them the gift of mobility.
Alright, they won’t sound especially impressive to their colleagues when that annoying display of one-upmanship rears its head on Monday morning – ‘What did Dave get you for Valentine’s Day?’ ‘Er, twenty-two litres of super unleaded…’ – but it’s a damn sight better than an expensive dinner that they’ll just end up processing into faeces with their fickle, indiscriminatory bowels, right?

Some food
If your loved one is determined to use their gastric monkeyshines to process any romantic gesture that you choose to bestow upon them into brown waste matter, then you can easily indulge them. Your local rock oil emporium has got you covered.
Fortunately for you, it’s 2014. This means that any fuel outlet you visit is likely to feature what Alan Partridge would describe as ‘a mini-mart – scaled-down supermarket, fits inside a petrol station’. On any other day of the year, this is a total pain in the arse – it takes forever to pay for your fuel because there’s always some dickhead who’s decided that the Monday morning rush hour is the ideal time to do the weekly shop - but on Valentine’s Day, this food/fuel fusion will work in your favour. Begin with a bag of Haribo – everyone loves Tangfastics, and maybe you could jostle them in a bowl with some Starmix for variety? Excellent starter. Then rummage around in the fridges and see what they have in the way of Ginsters products; if you’re lucky, they’ll sell those weird objects that are a kind of pork sausage thingy coated in breadcrumbs, stuffed with coleslaw. It’s called a ‘Buffet Bar’. That’s all of the ingredients for a diverse main course rolled up in one bite-size package. And for pudding? Why, a Chocolate Orange, of course! You can make sexy chit-chat around the subject of those annoying adverts that featured Dawn French saying ‘it’s not Terry’s, it’s mine’ as the pair of you slip in and out of consciousness from a surfeit of blood sugar.

Questionable wine
You’re never going to buy a quality bottle of wine in a petrol station, that’s a given. But, perhaps surprisingly, you will almost certainly be able to get some kind of wine in there. It won’t be that expensive either.
The most important part of this, as you might imagine, is to never let your partner see the bottle. Pour the wine into a glass somewhere out of sight, then hand it to them. To mask the taste and horrible acidity, be sure to give them a strongly flavoured hors d’oeuvre first (a bag of the petrol station’s finest onion ring crisps will sort you out here, while some sour cream dip will neutralise those aggressive throat-burning acids), and then just keep changing the subject if the wine is making them grimace. Don’t worry, once they’re a few glasses in they’ll stop noticing.

‘Ironic’ magazines
A risky play, this, but worth a squirt. Grab a handful of those appalling lifestyle magazines whose covers are always emblazoned with headlines like ‘I killed my brother with a biro so that I could sleep with my aunt, who owns a pen factory’ or ‘my vagina is haunted by the ghost of my boss – and he’s still alive!’. Hand them over with a wry grin and say ‘ha ha, imagine if I was the sort of person who’d actually give you this shit for Valentine’s Day! Your real present is coming soon, you’ll see…’
That should buy you a few days. You can do something proper next week.

The till
Fuck it, if desperation really takes hold, just tell the cashier you’ve got a gun. Take all the money home and lie to your loved one about how you’ve been saving up for a holiday or something. They’ll like that.

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